Many schools and family events are peanut-free or completely nut-free due to allergy concerns. There are several alternative nut butters, like almond and cashew, but if you want or need to avoid all nuts, the only options I know of are soynut and sunbutter. Soy is another relatively common allergy in young children, so it seems like sunbutter is the best alternative.
What is sunbutter? I was fairly surprised the first time I found out about it – it’s a spread made out of sunflower seeds! It has the same color and texture of peanut butter, with similar nutritional values. The protein and fat contents are almost identical, with sunbutter having slightly less saturated fat plus double the fiber of peanut butter. Sunflower seed buter is also high in magnesium and vitamin E. Unfortunately, it’s fairly expensive compared to peanut butter ($5-8 a jar). Luckily, sunflower seeds themselves aren’t that expensive, and I bought a 1 pound bag of shelled and roasted seeds for $1.69 at Trader Joe’s.
You will need a fairly high-powered food processor or blender to get the seeds to a smooth consistency. Mine wasn’t quite as smooth as store bought sunflower seed butter, but it was very close and I didn’t really notice while I was eating it. My homemade version tasted slightly more strongly of sunflower seeds than how I remember the store bought version tasting, which is strange since they don’t add any other flavors to it. It still had a fairly mild taste, and I think it would be great on bread, crackers, apples, celery, etc.
What are other alternatives to traditional foods do you enjoy?
Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter
Yields around 8 oz.
- 2 C sunflower seeds, roasted
- 2-3 T neutral tasting oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.)
- Your preferred sweetener to taste (I used 1 t agave)
- Salt to taste (if you buy salted seeds, omit salt)
(Edited to add: I just read that if you toast the seeds before blending, it helps them become creamier. Toast in a 225°F oven for around 20 mins, checking often and stirring them around so they don’t burn. Once they brown, remove from oven. Let cool slightly, then proceed with this recipe.)
1. Place sunflower seeds in food processor or blender.
2. Process until seeds turn into a fine meal.
3. Add oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, processing in between until you reach the consistency of a spreadable nut butter. Add sweetener and salt to taste. (Note: Check machine often to ensure it’s not overheating – if it feels hot, turn it off for a few minutes to avoid damaging the motor.)
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for