The sunflower has long been a symbol of peace for Ukraine. It represents optimism, longevity, happiness and brings joy to people. I identified seeds as a trend for 2022, particularly sunflower seeds. Ukraine produces approximately 30 per cent of the sunflower oil consumed worldwide. Along with Russia producing almost as much. This crop and its products will be disrupted due to the war. In case you were wondering, we grow sunflowers commercially in Canada, mostly in Manitoba. From sunflower seeds and spreads to sunflower oil and yes, beverages, let’s give an enormous shout-out to the mighty sunflower and its seeds.
My First Garden
My fascination with seeds began at the age of eight, when I planted sunflower seeds in my parents’ flower garden. Do you remember planting your first sunflower seeds as a kid? It was my first experience as a gardener and I quite liked it. As the summer holidays wrapped up that year, the sunflowers overpowered the garden. My brother and I had fun harvesting and eating the seeds directly from the plant. How fun was that farmer-like experience, growing healthy snacks in your own yard? As a result, it is one of my fondest childhood gardening memories.
Sunflower Seeds and Health
Sunflower seeds are one of the seeds I included in my e-book The Need for Seeds. From decreasing inflammation to increasing brain power, seeds are gaining more and more attention for their amazing nutritional properties. We know sunflower seeds play a significant role in bone and heart health. They are a good source of plant-based protein, fat soluble vitamin E and the mineral selenium.
Like all other seeds, sunflowers are nutrient-dense and calorie-dense. One ounce (28 grams) of shelled seeds delivers one-third of the daily requirement for vitamin E and phosphorous. That same 162-calorie serving also offers up small amounts of plant protein, fibre, zinc, folate, vitamin B6 and choline, which has been linked to better bone, heart and immune health. For a simple snack, I recommend the raw or roasted seeds without any added salt to decrease your sodium intake.
Seven Easy Ways to Add Sunflower Seeds to your Day
I love crunch, and layering textures to my snacks and meals. Sunflower seeds are bursting with a unique texture that adds variety to several dishes.
- My favorite way to eat sunflower seeds is as an on-the-go snack directly from the shell!
- Enjoy a handful of mild, nutty tasting seeds mid-afternoon with some raisins and Greek yogurt to satisfy that pre-supper stomach growl.
- Add sunflower seeds to your favorite tuna, chicken or turkey salad recipe.
- Use fine ground sunflower seeds to coat meats instead of flour before baking or pan frying.
- Sprinkle sunflower seeds onto hot and cold cereals.
- Garnish mixed green salads with sunflower seeds.
- And don’t forget to bake with sunflower seeds in breads, granola and muffins.
- Check out my book for recipes including my sunflower “butter”.
Sunflower Seeds in the Marketplace
Nut-free and gluten-free, sunflower seeds are very versatile. Mild and a nutty taste, they have a firm yet tender texture. When roasted, along with their oils, they have a richer, smokier flavour. Beyond the traditional shelled sunflower seeds snacks, we are seeing several nut and dairy alternatives. For example, sunflower seed spread is a choice instead of peanut butter for people who need to have nut-free options.
On the alternative dairy side, there is sunflower seed “cream cheese” and non-dairy frozen treats made with sunflower seed spread. Ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry’s got in on the action with a selection of non-dairy frozen treats made with sunflower seed spread in four flavours including Creme Brulée Cookie, Change The Whirled, “Milk” & Cookies, and Mint Chocolate Cookie.
Sunflower Seeds Final Thought:
Daily consumption of sunflower seeds can support bone, heart and immune health. They are rich in vitamin E, selenium and contain plant protein. For years sunflower seeds have made an excellent on-the-go travel snack. Now, turned into spreads and added to non-dairy frozen treats, the options are trending! As the mighty sunflower remains a symbol of peace and happiness, due to the supply disruption, if possible, I recommend stocking up on your favourite sunflower oil.