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Sunflower Seeds Gain Popularity, Have Many Uses

It wasn’t until the past few years that sunflower seeds became a popular snack food for anything other than birds. Now sunflower seeds can be purchased raw or roasted, hulled or with shells.

They can be used in cooking much in the same way as nuts. Hulled sunflower seeds can be tossed into casserole dishes, thrown into stir-fries or used as a topping on baked tofu. The seeds can be ground into butter or even sprouted.

Sunflower seeds are usually a component in vegetable burgers because of their high fat content, most of which is polyunsaturated. They are about 27 percent protein and contain calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. They are also a good source of several B complex vitamins as well as vitamins A and D. My favorite way to prepare them is to spray a nonstick skillet with vegetable cooking spray; saute the hulled seeds for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to brown. As the seeds begin to color, add a little tamari, cayenne pepper or blackening spices and lemon juice. Toss to combine and continue to saute until liquid is evaporated. Then I eat them hot or at room temperature as a snack or salad topping.

Sunflower seeds should be stored in a tightly sealed container, where they will keep for a few months at room temperature.