We try to limit the peanut butter around here (mostly for these reasons). We do get the organic stuff from Costco to have on hand as a treat (or for a PB&J, which is Grant and Jasper’s comfort food), but we just try to think of it like a treat versus a healthy protein source like I used to think of it. It is so nice to have on hand though, so I started experimenting with some other options. You can really make any nut butter using these directions, but we have found that we like sunflower seed butter the best: organic sunflower seeds are inexpensive in bulk, it comes together really quickly and easily in the food processor, sunflower seeds have lots of health benefits, and the taste is really similar to peanut butter (or at least we think so).
You will need a food processor for this one. I’ve read about people doing nut butters in a Vitamix or other strong-powered blender, but I haven’t tried it. I would think it would be difficult to scrape the finished butter out of the bottom of a blender. If you don’t have a food processor, I don’t think you would regret asking for one for your next birthday. I use mine nearly every day.
The first several times I made this, it was just okay. Grant and I liked it, but the kids didn’t. I did some digging and found that I wasn’t letting the food processor run long enough. Since I learned that trick, we’ve been loving our sunflower butter! So go buy a pound or so of sunflower seeds and get started.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the sunflower seeds out on a large roasting pan. I’ll be honest – I don’t typically measure or weigh out the seeds. I just spread out the seeds on the pan like so. Roast them in the oven until they begin to brown, usually about 30-40 minutes, but check and stir every 15 minutes or so.
After the sunflower seeds have started to brown (and smell delicious), remove them from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes or so. Then dump them in your food processor.
Add about a teaspoon of salt for every 8 cups of sunflower seeds. I like to add about a half a teaspoon at this stage, and then decide later if I need more after taste testing it.
Begin processing the seeds. This will take longer than you think – at least a solid five minutes. When Grant makes it, he sets the timer so that he doesn’t try to rush things.
You may need to stop after a few minutes and scrape down the sides with a spatula.
You want to keep processing just the seeds until the oils start to come out of the seeds themselves – you’ll know this because the mixture will clump together like this versus being more powdery like it is when you first start.
Once it reaches this stage, you’re ready to add the oil. I like to use grapeseed oil because it has a very neutral taste, but melted coconut oil is really yummy too. Again, I don’t typically measure this, but if I had to guess, I probably start with about two tablespoons of oil, let it process for about 30 seconds, then add another couple tablespoons. It roughly equals out to about 8-10 tablespoons of oil for every eight cups (I have a large 8-cup measuring scoop, which is why this “recipe” works off of eight cups, but feel free to scale up/down based on your needs).
If you’re not doing the Whole30, a tablespoon or two of local honey or maple syrup is delicious at this stage. Taste, add more salt or oil if necessary based on the consistency you desire, and process for about 30 seconds more. You can’t really screw it up – if you want it a little thinner, add a bit more oil. If you like it a thicker consistency, use less oil.
Now put that on some celery sticks and enjoy a healthy treat!
P.S. I did a little video version of the recipe on Instagram – be sure to follow me over there!