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Peanut and Nut Butter Alternatives + How to Make Sunflower Seed Butter

Today my daughter asked me to order her some pre-made meal kits that she could grab and go to her college classes and work.  We usually get one that features sunflower seed butter.  They’re really good and healthy, but a little pricey. Can we do this another way?

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as nut or soy nut or seed butter at the local grocery store. There was peanut butter or there was nothing. Although allergies to peanuts and tree nuts were seemingly not as common as today, there were no alternatives to peanut butter, and no yummy recipes made with sunflower seed butter.

Tahini and Sesame Seed Cookies

Tahini and Sesame Seed Cookies

Alternatives to Peanut Butter, Almond Butter and Other Nut Butters

Seed and soy nut butters provide the perfect substitution. They’re nutritious, creamy and delicious, perfect for sandwiches, dips, spreads, smoothies and more, and of course, for eating right off the spoon. The best news is they are interchangeable in a variety of recipes calling for peanut and nut butter.

(Because soy nuts and seeds contain fragile polyunsaturated fats, it’s important to store all seed and soy nut butters in the refrigerator.)

What are these butters about?

  • Soy nut butter is made from roasted soybeans. It’s very “peanut-butter-like” but because soy is a potential allergen, go cautiously and check with your health care provider if there is any doubt.
  • Sunflower seed butter is made from roasted sunflower seeds. Make your own or purchase ready-to-eat. Use in recipes calling for peanut or almond butter.
  • Pumpkin seed butter is made from roasted pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas. It may not be as readily available as other seed butters but is easy to make at home. Follow the recipe below substituting pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds.
  • Sesame seed butter and tahini are made from sesame seeds, either toasted or raw. For deeper flavor, choose the toasted varieties. Because sesame seeds can be a little bitter, children may prefer tahini paired with honey or dried fruit like raisins or dates, or sweet fruits like bananas and juicy-ripe pears.

Make Your Own Sunflower Seed Butter

To make your own sunflower seed (or pumpkin seed) butter, roast 2 cups of seeds at 325 degrees F until golden brown and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Roasting brings out the flavor, so don’t skip this step. Transfer hot seeds to a food processor. Blend until the seeds begin to release their oil and clump together. Add about a tablespoon of oil such as expeller pressed canola or virgin coconut oil. Continue processing until creamy, adding a little more oil if needed and a pinch of salt. For a touch of sweet, add a little honey or pure maple syrup. Continue processing until the mixture is creamy to your liking. This may take a few minutes.

You can check out my One Ingredient Homemade Peanut Butter post to see the cool transformation the nuts and seed will make.  Key takeaway here – don’t give up on the blender too soon!

Peanut butter and Jelly Snack Muffins (For a nut-free version, swap peanut butter for sunflower seed butter.)

Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Muffins

Inspiration with Seed Butter

Try these fun tips and kid-friendly recipes from Whole Foods using soy nut or any seed butter of your choice: