When you have life threatening food allergies like I do, you quickly learn about common offenders and good substitutions. For example, pesto is frequently made with walnuts, which could kill me, but is also often made with pine nuts, which are fine. Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of sunflower seeds and this brand of organic, unsweetened Sunbutter. Sunflower seeds are an excellent nut alternative and I have discovered many great uses for them beyond eating them plain as a snack.

Sunpesto Sandwich - Voices from the Ville

Here’s what I love about sunflower seeds: they’re a great source of vitamin E (an antioxidant) and a source for heart-healthy linoleic acid. They’re high in protein, fiber and healthy fats. They also contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which is great news for people like me who are allergic to fish and walnuts. You can find them in stores either in the shell, shelled, roasted or raw. I’ve developed several recipes using sunflower seeds that don’t involve any cooking whatsoever and are ideal for those super hot summer days when even the thought of my oven makes me sweat.

Hit me with your best shot, summer. I’m ready for you.

Below are my three favorite no-cook summer dishes using sunflower seeds. They are easy to prepare and are perfect for picnics, road trips or long summer adventures.

1. Sunflower Pesto

How to make Sunpesto Sandwich - Voices from the Ville

I usually avoid pesto like the plague out of allergy fears, which is a shame because it’s loaded with flavor and can be a terrific addition to vegetables, sandwiches and of course, pasta. However, with this version mae with raw sunflower seeds, I am safe! Plus, now I have a new go-to sandwich condiment!

How to make Sunpesto Sandwich - Voices from the Ville


½ cup raw sunflower seeds

1 small garlic clove

1 cup arugula

⅔ cup basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

2. Sunflower Snack Balls

Sunflower snack balls - Voices from the Ville

If you are looking for a quick snack that you can feel great about, look no further. These no-bake Sunflower Snack Balls are delicious any time of the day!  They also don’t require any refrigeration and are a fantastic source of energy for kids and adults. Here’s the best part: the recipe can be varied endlessly. Great substitutions noted below.

3 cups dried fruit – I used dates, figs, dried cranberries and dried cherries (you can also use dried apricots, prunes, raisins, shredded coconut)

⅔ cup raw sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup (you can also use honey)

1 cup rolled oats (you can also use instant oats)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

Delicious Sunflower snack balls - Voices from the Ville

Combine dried fruit and sunflower seeds in a food processor and pulse until the fruit gets mushy and the seeds have broken down. Add lemon juice and maple syrup and mix to combine. Add oats, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. Mix well. Roll into balls (I prefer one to two inch rounds but you can create whatever size you’d like). Makes at least two dozen snack balls.

3. Sunflower Butter

Sunflower Butter - Voices from the Ville

I love sunbutter. It’s a perfect snack on a spoon, it’s wonderful on toast and I particularly love it inside a sliced, pitted date. I desperately wanted to make my own but it took several attempts to get it right. I tried a version with maple syrup. I tried a version using raw seeds (not roasted). I realized that what I lacked was patience! I finally had some luck with roasted sunflower seeds but the secret is, it takes 7 minutes in the food processor before this resembles the creamy deliciousness you want. Here’s the story of my successful batch of deliciously creamy sunbutter.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon honey

Place seeds in a food processor. Grind for at least 7 minutes. The mixture will first become crumbly and then, several minutes later, when you think all is lost, the seeds will release their wonderful oils and start looking like a spreadable butter. Add the honey and continue to process until desired texture has been reached (likely another two minutes). Oh yum.

Snacking on Sunflower - Voices from the Ville

Easy, yummy, and healthy snacks

Bonus ideas:

Sunflower seeds are a terrific addition to green salads and grain salads and provide interesting texture and a nutty flavor. You can vary the flavor by choosing roasted or raw, or toasting the raw seeds yourself before adding.

Click here for this easy recipe: Chickpea, Avocado and Farro Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Click here for this easy recipe: Arugula Salad with Avocado, Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds


Image Source:// All Author’s Own

Gillian Fein

Kidville Member

Gillian Fein


Founder of LaLa Lunchbox, a fun, easy-to-use iOS app that takes the stress out of lunch planning and helps families save money and time. Hailed by The New York Times, Parenting, Swiss-Miss and more, the app empowers kids to have a say in their meals, and makes a game out of what was once a frustrating chore. Gillian worked in the public health sector for nearly a decade after receiving her MBA from Columbia University and lives in New York City with her husband and three kids.