Sunflowers are in full bloom right about now in most of the United States. If you are lucky enough to grow them or live by someone like me who grows them, they are tall beautiful plants that add a great early fall contrast to your yard. However, there are many additional ways you can use sunflowers which people often miss out on. Here are my 3 favorite ways to my fall sunflowers.
Eat the Sunflower Seeds
I like to roast them in the shell. It’s simply a classic. They provide a great healthy snack that also keeps your hands busy trying to get the next seed so it’s also a great natural curb to over eating. Roasting seeds is super easy but does take a bit of time to do it right. First, soak the unshelled seeds in salted water over night. The next day, drain the water away and cook the still wet sunflower seeds on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes.
While most people associate sunflower seeds with baseball, there’s growing evidence that sunflower seeds should be known as the next great super food. Researchers now believe that sunflower seeds could be a great protector of our brains because of a little known connection between sunflower seeds and our brain. Sunflower seeds and our brains contain a high percentage of lecithin. Lecithin is a yellow waxy substance that is critical for basic brain function and may even play a roll in neurological healing. (Read more about sunflower lecithin benefits)
Use Sunflowers as Fresh Cut Flowers
Sunflowers have several great characteristics that make them perfect for fresh cut flower arrangements. First, the sunflowers have long, strong stems which allow them to be cut and arranged tall in the vase. Second, the flower heads are large, colorful, and seasonal. This makes them standout to guests or customers giving you the all important WOW factor. Finally, a cut sunflower placed in water can last up to 2 or 3 weeks. This is at least double the average for most other cut flowers meaning you will save time and money.
Jazz up your Tuna Salad
Tuna salad is a great low calorie, high protein dish but it can get boring and the texture can be a major turnoff. Next time you make tuna salad just add a couple tablespoons of seeds for added nutrition and a crunch.
Finally, it’s important to know that because of the fat soluble lecithin in the sunflower seeds, they can go rancid surprisingly fast if they are not stored properly. Keep them in an air tight container in your refrigerator to maximize their shelf life. Seeds kept in your refrigerator can last for up to 6 months.
About: Chris Wimmer blogs about cooking, gardening, and healthy living at healthsmartliving.com.