Sunday, April 8, 2012


A lot of people miss peanut butter on Paleo as it is verboten. I was never that attached to peanut butter, but for my husband, it's like human catnip. We could go to the specialty food store and get sunbutter which is a very yummy close comparison, but why pay so much when you can make it at home for... PEANUTS! (Not literally peanuts - you know what I mean.) I searched around a lot online researching the best way to do this and everyone has their own thoughts on the matter. From what I researched, I developed the below recipe which worked like a charm.

Why sunflower seeds over peanuts? Well, they're good for your heart due to having no cholesterol content and containing cholesterol-fighting phytosterols which lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). They’re also rich in fiber, minerals like zinc and calcium, iron for blood and also magnesium, selenium, and lots of folic acid (for cancer fighting!). Sunflower seeds also have very high levels of Vitamins B and E. If you've read the Peanut Manifesto on the Whole 9 website, you know that peanuts (which aren't even really nuts, but a legume) contain lectins which are commonly associated with aggravation of inflammatory and digestive diseases in the body. They can also harbor carcinogenic mold called an “aflatoxin“. Ewwwww.

  • 1 16oz bag raw sunflower seeds (do not get the ones that are already roasted as they will not have enough moisture and result in a mealy sunbutter)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and coat with a light spray of oil. Spread out your sunflower seeds evenly and spray with a light mist of oil. (I buy extra virgin olive oil spray in the grocery store. You could forget the oil completely as sunflower seeds will release their own, but I like to give them a little help. You could also toast them in a pan on the stove if you can't use your oven.)

2. Put the pan in the oven, checking the level of "toastiness" every few minutes. The seeds should be LIGHTLY toasted, not brown. If your pan wasn't big enough to create a single layer of seeds, be sure to mix them up partway through cooking so the seeds on the top don't cook faster than those on the bottom. Mix as often as necessary until they look uniformly toasted. (As you can see in the photos below, some of my seeds that came in contact with the metal sides of the baking sheet became very brown. I just left those few overdone ones out and snacked on them as I made the sunbutter.)

3. Combine the toasted sunflower seeds in a blender with the sea salt and palm sugar. If you have a high power blender like a VitaMix that comes with a tamper (looks like a plunger) then process on highest variable speed and use the plunger to push the mixture down into the blades. If you do not have a tamper, you may have to stop the blender periodically to push the mixture down with a wood spoon or spatula. You could also use a food processor on high, but this may take a bit longer. At first, the mixture may look mealy, but keep chugging along and processing it until it begins to look creamier and get a light sheen. Sunflower seeds release their own oils over time - so have patience! You could be processing the mixture up to 10 minutes straight. At about the 5 minute mark, it should definitely start looking creamy, though. At this point, you could add in your teaspoon of honey.

4. Once the mixture gets fairly creamy, add in your olive oil one teaspoon at a time, processing in between. You can lower the speed of your blender just enough so that it will blend the oil in without need to be pushed towards the blades. The result should be a nice creamy sunbutter.

5. Your mixture may be hot, so spoon it into a mason jar and let it cool off to the side. Once cooled, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. The mixture may separate if left in the fridge for too long, so if that happens, just give it a good stir before serving.



  1. This recipe looks great, but aren't sunflower seeds also quite inflammatory due to the amounts of polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acids in them? - Jes

    1. Hi there and thanks for your comment. Keeping in mind I'm not a certified nutritionist or medical professional, my personal opinion is that a diet balanced in Omega 3's and Omega 6's is essential for good health. Being on paleo, we eat lots of animals and get much of our Omega 3's from them to help balance out our consumption of Omega 6's.

      Also, this goes without saying, but I hope no one is putting away an entire jar of sunbutter in one sitting. This is a treat to be enjoyed in moderation. :)