Many of us think of sunflower seeds as the roasted and salted seeds you have to crack from their shell. Sort of a chore to eat, but tasty nonetheless. But there's more to sunflower seeds than crack, crunch, spit.
In fact, sunflower seeds -- especially in this day and age, with the overwhelming spike in peanut allergies and tree nut allergies amongst children -- are proving to be a godsend in the kitchen. And in more ways than one. We're just going to say it: sunflower seeds are the most underrated ingredient of our time, and here's why.
1. They make an awesome substitute for peanut butter. With peanut allergies are on the rise, and the childhood classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich banned in many school cafeterias, sunflower butter is standing up as a great stand in. There are many brands on the market now to choose from -- though be sure that it is being produced in a nut-free facility -- or you can easily make a batch at home.
2. They're cheap.
In the world of nuts and seeds, sunflower is often less expensive than the other options. And because it can stand in for so many tree nuts and other seeds in recipes, they're a great option if you're looking to save a few bucks.
3. You can replace them for arborio rice when making risotto.
This is not a joke.
4. When covered with chocolate, they taste like M&Ms.
Well, almost. But they are good. And they're an awesome solution for people who can't have nuts, but are craving chocolate with nuts anyway.
5. They can be used in place of dairy for vegan recipes, instead of cashews.
What can't they do?
6. When you don't feel like throwing down a small fortune on pine nuts for making pesto, sunflower seeds are the best substitute.
Because of their mild flavor, most folks won't even notice that you subbed in sunflower seeds for pine nuts. You might never go back to the classic pesto recipe after trying this sunflower pesto recipe.
7. They're full of good nutrition.
Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamins and boast anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.
8. They even make great brownies.
Don't doubt it till you try it.