Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on April 17, 2009

Peanut allergies can make life rather harrowing for those who must avoid even the smallest quantity of peanuts and any by-products containing peanuts. That means many of the delicious foods made from peanuts and peanut butters are strictly off limits.

But sunflower seeds may come to the rescue! When I attended the Natural Products EXPO in Anaheim, California, in March, 2008, I enjoyed a pleasant encounter with SunGold Foods, Inc., a company that makes Sunbutter, a creamy product made of sunflower seeds.
When I tasted their organic creamy Sunbutter, my first thought was that it was so like peanut butter I really thought it contained some peanuts. I was assured the smooth and rich-tasting “butter” was made only from roasted sunflower seeds—it didn’t even contain salt or sugar. It was thick, like peanut butter, and totally engaging. As I walked away from the booth, the thought of the sunflower seed butter clung to me like my favorite red sweater, and I knew a jar of it would soon become part of my regular pantry items.

Several of the peanut butter recipes in my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet, will taste equally as delicious with this sunflower seed butter standing in for the peanut butter–recipes like the Peanut Butter Carob Pie, Yam and Nut Butter Soup, Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse, Pistachio Peanut Bon Bons, and African Peanut Soup.

And sunflower seeds are highly nutritious with plenty of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and Vitamin E. And as for the all-important minerals, they’re naturally packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc, and copper.


Sunflower seed butter–what a delight and what a treasure for those who will no longer have to miss out on a host of delicious peanut butter recipes! Armed with sunflower seed butter, peanut allergy sufferers and anyone who enjoys a flavorful and zesty dish can now make this delicious sauce for recipes like Indonesian Gado Gado or Satay. For this easy sauce that takes no more than 5 minutes to make, I would suggest using the unsalted and unsweetened variety. You can choose either the chunky or smooth texture.

A word of caution is in order, though. For those with peanut and tree nut allergies, sunflower seeds and products made from them may possibly pose the same risks as consuming peanuts and tree nuts. Always read labels of any products you purchase to make sure they were not made in a facility that processes peanuts or tree nuts. The Sunbutter is made in a peanut and tree nut-free facility, but may still cause serious risks of severe reaction for some people.



Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or organic sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced chives

Combine all the ingredients, except the chives, in a small mixing bowl and stir with a whisk to blend the flavors. Stirring for a full minute creates a thicker sauce. Transfer to an attractive serving bowl and garnish with the chives. Serve as a dip for baked tofu or seitan, or spoon over steamed vegetables, cooked grains, or tossed salad.


  1. Cindy said

    Our family tried Sun Butter and while I thought it tasty, my children didn’t bite. I tried to make Sun Butter cookies and they came out a bit greenish. I did find another product that fills the voide, however. It is SoyNut Butter. I tried one brand at first, but found it not very good even by adult standards. But the IM Healthy brand of SoyNut Butter is delicious and my kids love it. I keep the Sun Butter, but will feed the children SoyNut Butter from now on.

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Cindy,

      Thanks so much for the heads up on the IM Healthy SoyNut Butter. Is it salted or sweetened or totally natural? I used the unsalted and unsweetened SunButter for the Sunflower Seed Butter recipe, but if your family is only familiar with salted or sweetened nut butters, the taste natural nut or seed butters may take some getting used to.

  2. JD Silver said

    In Alberta, Canada, we have a product available called PeaButter. It has a flavor that is very similar to peanut butter, but it has been created with roasted peas. The product is carried by Safeway in Alberta. I have also tried the Sunbutter product, and just love it! I really missed having the peanut butter that I grew up with as a child, now that I have peanut allergies, but both of these products have been terrific.


    • nutgourmet said

      Hi JD,
      Thanks so much for the heads-up on PeaButter–that’s a new one on me but definitely worth checking out. It would be especially great for people who have peanut allergies and can’t enjoy peanut butter. I know that not all Safeway markets carry the same things, but I’m going to explore our local one. Thanks again!

  3. How much potassium does the sunbutter have?


  4. How much potassium does the sunbutter contain?

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Janet, I would suggest you contact the SunButter company at http://www.sunbutter.com and ask them directly. The jar of SunButter I have in my pantry shelf does not list potassium on their nutritional label. That doesn’t mean it contains no potassium. Their website does not provide any nutritional analysis. It’s always best to go to the source. Hope this helps.


    My son was given a free sample of Sunbutter at a FAAN walk last September. He has severe tree nut allergies, this we knew, so we thought this would be a good snack for him. He ate it the next day and went into ana. shock as soon as he ate it. We didn’t know he had a allergy to sunflower. It almost killed him. Two epi-pens and 8 shots of Benedril saved his life. I guess his reaction was very rare, but was told if you have tree nut allergies stay away from Sunbutter.

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks so much for passing this crucial information on. I’m truly sorry to hear about your son’s harrowing experience. It’s a frightening nightmare for any family to have to go through. The common thought is that since sunflower seeds are not tree nuts and not legumes like peanuts, they could be safe for those with nut allergies. Apparently not–some people are sensitive even to seeds. I’ll include a note about that in the article so others will heed the cautionary information.


  6. allergist said

    Excellent way of describing, and nice paragraph
    to take facts about my presentation subject matter, which i am
    going to present in academy.

    • Hi Doctor,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. They’re much appreciated. Since I began this NutGourmet blog I became highly aware of how life-disrupting and even life-threatening nut allergies can be for some people. Have you looked at the feature I wrote about the cashew-mango allergy called Beware the Cashew Allergy–and the Secret Mango Culprit https://nutgourmet.wordpress.com/cashew-mango-allergy? Because of the many comments I did more than one post on the subject. My husband and two sons react with a dramatic array of itchy rashes, hives, and numbness around the mouth every time they eat cashews, pistachios, and mangoes, so caution reigns in my household.

      Zel Allen

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