It was funny, in a black humor kind of way. My three sisters and I span the ages of 55-65, and spent a long weekend together last summer without kids or spouses. All we seemed to talk about was brain health and strategies for lowering our high cholesterol! We were all also in various stages of reading Grain Brain and investigating the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric.
And so we cooked, experimenting with swap-out recipes in the kitchen together. One of us had brought along the cookbook Against All Grain, so we tried grain-free bread recipes using coconut oil and talked a lot about being proactive for our health as we aged.
One great takeaway from that weekend was learning more about sunflower seeds. We ground them up into sunflower seed flour for making breads and crackers and I’ve been using them ever since.
A big surprise about sunflower seeds is that they cost less than half the price of other nuts and seeds, and sunflower seed butter is at least 1/3 less expensive. Given that they are also a powerhouse of antioxidants, minerals such as selenium and copper, and vitamins, this is a nutrient rich, economical power food. Its high selenium is an especially good find because it is a mineral that helps stabilize blood sugar and protect against cancer.
Sunflower seeds are of value to the young and old alike as they are also very rich in folic acid, which helps protect against heart disease and diseases of aging such as memory loss, and for pregnant women, miscarriage and the risk of spinal bifida. Their oil mimics the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, and just 100g provides about 234% of RDA for vitamin E.
I found sunflower seeds so flavorful for baking that I expanded to buy unsweetened sunflower seed butter as well as just plain sunflower seeds for sprinkling on salads.
After our weekend together my sisters and I each went grain-free for a few months at least. I offer, below, a recipe for crackers that has become a standby in our grain-free lifestyles. They are especially delicious with, well, unsweetened sunflower seed butter.
Grain-Free, Rosemary-Sunflower Crackers
Adaptation of the grain-free cracker recipe from Against All Grain (Victory Belt Publishing, Inc., 2013)
1 cup sunflower seed flour (grind in a Vitamix, powerful blender, or food processor)
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons cold water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined.
Form the dough in a ball and roll out into a rectangle between two sheets of parchment paper.
Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough into 1”-wide rectangles. Gently slide the parchment paper with the shaped cracker dough onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes
Annie B. Bond is an award-winning and best-selling author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers, 1998) and True Food (National Geographic, 2010). You can find her blogs and more at TheTrueFind.com.
Photo credit: “Sonnenblume ready to harvest” by TanteInge – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons