Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cardamom Spiced Sunbutter

One of the many great finds at Trader Joe's is their 16 oz. bag of raw sunflower seeds.... for $1.99. That's pretty cheap! As most Paleo Peeps know, nuts can be expensive. What's more expensive than nuts? Nut butters. Especially nut butters that don't contain white refined sugar and weird vegetable oils. I think you know by now how I feel about those two ingredients. Ick.

Like most people out there, I love peanut butter. Well, I used to love peanut butter. Peanuts aren't really a nut, they are a legume, and so they aren't paleo. Why are legumes harmful? Check out this article. Why are peanuts in particular pretty bad for you? Check out this article. Ok, now are we all on the same page? Good, back to the recipe at hand.

So when most people "go Paleo" they go through peanut butter withdrawal, but the good news is that you can find nut butters made of stuff other than peanuts, and it's actually pretty good. There's almond butter, roasted almond butter, cashew butter, coconut butter, pecan butter, hazelnut butter, the super luxurious macadamia nut butter (hello mouthgasm!)... yada yada yada. Now, don't go overboard with nuts and nut butter, because they are kinda high in calories, and it can be easy to overdo it. Though most Paleo Peeps don't necessarily count calories, it's still not a good idea to overindulge on any food, even if it is technically paleo. But a bit of nutbutter is ok for most people.

Another interesting substitute for peanut butter is Sunbutter. What the heck is that? It's a yummy nut butter made out of sunflower seeds, and it is very similar in taste to peanut butter, in my humble opinion. It is also a good choice for people who can't eat nuts at all, since it is a seed. Good quality sunbutter can be hard to find though. The most popular type found in regular grocery stores contains these ingredients:

Sunflower seed, sugar, mono-diglycerides to prevent separation, salt, natural mixed tocopherols to preserve freshness.

 No thanks. I'd prefer an ingredient list to read like a recipe rather than a science experiment. And I would also prefer it NOT to have that GMO, DEVIL WHITE SUGAR in it. I'll spare you the rant. There are other brands of sunbutter that you can find at health food stores that don't contain anything weird in them, but they can be as expensive as $10.00 or more a jar. Well, I'm on a ridiculously tight budget right now, so I am happy that I found a much cheaper alternative.

Enter the star ingredient:

Did I mention it is only $1.99? Yeah, I can afford that. So here we go. You can of course make this recipe plain, without the cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and you can also be a Paleo purist and leave out the honey if you wish. You can do those things, but you would be missing out on this incredibly interesting flavor profile that hints of lands far away in the spice belt. And since I don't yet have the bank account to be able to travel abroad to mysterious lands, I just take a trip with my spice cabinet instead. I suggest you do the same. 

Cardamom Spiced Sunbutter


1 16 oz bag of Trader Joe's Raw Sunflower Seeds (or other raw sunflower seeds, as long as there are no added oils or salt)
10 green cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons of raw honey, to taste
pinch of sea salt


1. Toast the Sunflower Seeds in a dry pan over medium heat stirring often, until most of the seeds look darker, and they are starting to smell delicious and fragrant. This usually takes about 5 minutes. Remove to a shallow bowl or plate and allow to cool. 

2. Wipe out the pan with a towel, and toast the cardamom pods the same way for a few minutes until fragrant. Remove to a cutting board and smash the pods with the bottom of a glass to crack open the pods. Discard the green pods, and collect enough of the seeds to measure 1/4 of a teaspoon. 

3. Put the cooled sunflower seeds in a food processor and process with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom seeds, and salt until smooth. This can take up to 15 minutes, and you will need to scrape down the sides of the machine several times. 

4. When the mixture is almost smooth, add in the teaspoon of coconut oil, and process a minute longer. 

5. Scrape out all of the sunbutter to a bowl, and mix in the honey by hand. You don't even have to add the honey if you don't want to, but I find it complements the cardamom quite nicely. Store in a glass mason jar, and serve with fresh fruit, like apples or bananas. Enjoy!


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