Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Touch of Sun on a Gloomy Day

During last weekend's wedding festivities, I remarked that it was probably the last nice day we'd have this year.  And sure enough, it's cold, rainy and decidedly yucky outside today.  Blah.

So today's post is all about something that makes me happy - sunflowers!

I got to thinking about sunflowers (and particularly sunflower seeds) the other day while I was devouring most of the bag of this delicious stuff:

I actually bought this bag of granola because I thought the pumpkin seeds would be a nice, festive fall food to munch on (and indeed, they were).  I have to make sure not to take the whole bag to my office again though, because I plowed through at least half the bag while mindlessly typing away at my computer the other day (oops!).

Another great way that I like to eat sunflower seeds is tossed into a salad.  My lunch today:

This salad was made up of mixed greens, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chopped apples, dried cranberries and topped with Litehouse pomegranite blueberry dressing (I am obsessed with this), and blue cheese crumbles.  A tip for velvetty, creamy blue cheese - buy it in the block, not already crumbled (the crumbles are too dry), and leave it sit out for a few hours so it warms to room temperature.  The blue cheese is so smooth and tangy, and along with the crunch of the apples, walnuts and sunflower seeds, strikes a great balance with the sweetness of the salad dressing.

I've also been working on making some nut butters at home, since the specialty ones are so ridiculously expensive at the store.  They are actually really easy to make, once you get the proportions down correctly. For this one, I took sunflower seeds, coconut butter, sugar, salt, molasses and vanilla extract and plopped in all into the magic bullet:

After a few minutes of whirring and chirring, this lovely sunflower butter was ready to be spread on some bread (Who am I kidding? It went directly into my mouth):

A few fun nutritional facts about sunflower seeds:

-Calories per serving (1/4 cup): 140. 11.0 g of fat, 3.0 g of fiber and 6.0 g of protein.
-Just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds is enough to make up for about 90% of the daily requirements of Vitamin E in the body.
-Because it contains tryptophan (the sleepy turkey-coma stuff), sunflower seeds help in preventing the onset of depression.
-Raw sunflower seeds are also a rich source of zinc, which helps the body recuperate from any kind of injuries and fight infections.

If any of my readers have any recipes that include sunflower seeds, I'd love if you'd share them.  Have a sunny day!

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