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DIY Kitchen: sunflower butter

2014 April 1
by Rachel Turiel


Does this picture *help*? As in actually inspire you to make this? I’m terribly unclear on food photography. Being Managing Editor at Edible Southwest Colorado Magazine means I’m heavily involved in planning and editing magazine content. Several issues ago when someone submitted a photo to accompany a story, our photographer, who wasn’t impressed, asked if I liked it “Sure, it’s bright and clear,” I replied. Silence followed.”You mean you like it because it’s not *blurry*?” My input is no longer sought on photo matters.

Right now there’s a chickadee rummaging for insects in the pile of straw raked from the chicken coop. A crow drops down to snatch nest materials. A robin stalks, with one roving eye, a worm who’s relocated into the new domed neighborhood. Soon, this golden pile of fertility will become the mulch tucking in garden plants. It’s an ecosystem potluck; some (chickens, worms) give, some (birds, plants) take. Every last shred is used.

Inside, things are quite different. There’s a mother spinning raw ingredients into food, elbowing another formerly store-bought item onto the obsolete list. She pulls granola bars from the oven, bricks of oats and nuts mortared with honey and peanut butter. She slides ranch dressing jeweled with parsley emeralds from blender to jar. Each recipe discovery—gritty mustard, golden mayonnaise—is as useful and sustaining as a worm for a robin. This is what she has to offer, and unlike the pile of manured straw, which beckons creatures far and wide, there are few takers.


There must be some Universal Snark at work here, some cosmic jokery. Like, in the shaking and sifting and pairing of souls, someone put the woman wearing the neon shirt saying “Make it From Scratch!” with the kids who covet bullets of cheese, yogurt and meat stuffed into plastic casings.

Which is all to say that I made a perfect sunflower butter this weekend. Kitchen angels alighted on my shoulders singing hymns of frugality and food processors, while the kids snapped another lego wing on another lego plane, begging, Wake me when you serve something from the store. 

But, I’m so happy about how this sunflower butter came out (rich, smooth, dense), that I don’t care what new homemade-phobias have sprung up in the last three minutes. It’s the kind of happiness that unscrews the clamped lid on my heart. (Similar to the happiness I feel returning to this gorgeously written book every night. Sorry Dan, check back in with me in 47 pages. FYI, not a book for happy ending-aholics)

Partly, this happiness is because on my current healing regimen all nuts and seeds are out except sunflower seeds; partly because store-bought organic sunbutter costs $7.59 and looks so professionally, impossibly and cohesively swirled; and partly because I use sunbutter to make this amazing paleo cookie dough, which if you’re stoned enough tastes just like the real thing.


~makes approx 3 1/2 cups~


1 pound sunflower seeds (roughly 3 1/4 cups)

4 TBSP coconut oil (melted)

1 -2 TBSP honey or maple syrup or coconut sugar (optional)

Salt to taste


Roast seeds by placing on cookie sheet at 350F for 20 minutes, stirring a couple times. Remove, let cool for a few minutes. In food processor, start by blending 1 cup sunflower seeds with 1 TBSP liquid (melted) coconut oil and 1 TBSP honey. Keep adding seeds and oil until you have a consistency you like. This should take approximately 3-5 minutes.


She *did* taste it. 

Also, I hear you can follow this general recipe for any nut butter.




ps: Speaking of ecosystems, this 5 minute video about how wolves changed rivers in Yellowstone is beautiful and inspiring (ignore the narrator’s erroneous calling of elk, “deer.”)

pps: I’m just 20 “likes” away from 800 on my Facebook Page, hint hint.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. dale in denver permalink
    April 1, 2014

    “Kitchen angels alighted on my shoulders singing hymns of frugality and food processors, while the kids snapped another lego wing on another lego plane, begging, Wake me when you serve something from the store. – and I thought this only happened at my house….

  2. April 1, 2014

    Oooh, love Lorrie Moore, will have to disappear with that for a while. And I’ve told my daughter that there are people out there who do not pay 6 freaking dollars for a bottle of ranch dressing (the only way she’ll tolerate salad this month) and that we will have to learn how to do it ourselves (“won’t that be FUN?”) – so, have you shared that particular recipe here?? and if not, would you please???

  3. April 1, 2014

    haha :) Okay, so we need the paleo cookie recipe now!

  4. Molly permalink
    April 1, 2014

    Let me know if you ever put some jerky in an Altoid box they decorate themselves, if that works kind of, as satisfyingly small and cute packaging. I have explained to my little person the connection between having more money for shiny things in stores (and shiny vacations to see giant mice) and spending less time with her overall. Draconian, but it makes an impact at least temporarily, and it has, as they say, the added virtue of being true.

  5. Jennifer permalink
    April 1, 2014

    I would also love the paleo cookie recipe!

  6. Rachel Turiel permalink
    April 1, 2014

    Jennifer and Sarah,
    Shamelessly, it’s not even a paleo *cookie* recipe, it’s for paleo cookie DOUGH, which actually is neither dough nor something you could cook into a cookie, nor contains any flour, paleo or otherwise. But, if you’ve had neither cookie nor cookie dough in seven months, you may just love it. Will post soon.

  7. Jen permalink
    April 1, 2014

    I’ve been avoiding nuts too and have become seriously addicted to pepita butter. Made basically the same way (in a 30 year old Cuisinart Super-Pro no less!) but I use olive oil, maple syrup and a touch of sea salt. I’ll never eat peanut butter again! Your posts are always a breath of fresh air. Thank you!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 2, 2014

      Pepita butter! Exciting! I can eat pumpkin seeds, too. Will definitely try this.

  8. Susan S permalink
    April 1, 2014

    Please excuse me while I reveal my ignorance–I imagine it would taste about like tahini, right? P.S. Wolf video!!!!!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 2, 2014

      Like a sunflower seed flavored tahini. That helps a lot, right?

  9. Andrea permalink
    April 2, 2014

    I know no facebook.
    But I LIKE you a lot.
    More than 800.

  10. nan permalink
    April 2, 2014

    Thank-you so much for showing this video. I live in Alberta where the wolves were captured and sent to the U.S. There were a lot of people against this ,on both sides. I am so very happy that is working out.I wish people would understand the balance of nature.

  11. nan permalink
    April 3, 2014

    Thank-you so very much for showing the video about the wolves. I live in Alberta Canada where the the wolves were captured and sent to the U.S. There were a lot of people that were against this , on both sides. I am so happy to know that the reintroduction has had such good results. I wish people would under stand that when you remove something in nature, you upset the balance.

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