The Power of Sunflower

I love being the conduit between the doctor's visit and the grocery store for families with food allergies. Some children must go on multiple eliminations and a family's first list usually focuses on foods a child cannot eat. Parents are shell shocked. “What do I feed my child then? You have taken everything out!” Enter the dietitian with her superhero cape!

I get the fun job of providing a list of foods their child can eat. One of those yummy foods is sunflower seeds.  One ounce of sunflower seeds provides a powerhouse of — count 'em — 15 nutrients. They are an excellent source for five, and good source for five more.

 

 

Nutrient % Daily Value
Vitamin E 84
Phosphorus 32
Selenium 31
Copper 25
Pantothenic acid 20
Folate 17
Protein 12
Fiber 12
Vitamin B6 11
Zinc 10
Magnesium 9
Iron 6.4
Thiamin 6
Niacin 6
Riboflavin 5

Source: National Sunflower Association

Sunflower seeds are such a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a child or adult's diet in a variety of ways. Some of the ideas I suggest include:

  • Sunflower Seed Butter (as an alternative to peanut butter)
  • Ground up and used as a crunchy coating for fish, pork or chicken
  • Added to a salad for crunch and nuttiness
  • Pump up the protein of a breakfast by adding it to muffins, cereal or oatmeal

My family and I make super-easy, no-bake sunflower seed bars that can be bagged up as a snack for school or eaten as an energy boost before a sports competition. This recipe is free of the top six allergens, and it is officially kid-approved by both of my taste-discerning children — Hannah, age 9 and Evan, age 6. I love to throw them in the freezer and then defrost them as I need them.

Enjoy the power of sunflower in this recipe — just in time for summer! One note to be aware of: these bars are not low in calories.


No-Bake Sunflower Seed Bars

Recipe by Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD

Ingredients
3 cups sunflower seeds
1 cup sunflower seed butter
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup agave nectar

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the agave nectar, vanilla and brown sugar and bring to a low boil. Add the sunflower seed butter.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sunflower seeds, cranberries and cereal. Mix well.
  3. Pour warm mixture over the dry mix. Coat well.
  4. Line a 9"-x-13"-inch pan with parchment or wax paper. Pour bar mixture and spread out evenly.
  5. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.
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Angela Lemond
Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD, is a Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice. Read her blog, Lemond Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.