Making And Eating Sunflower Seeds

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The sunflower has been used since ancient times as a food source � carbon dating shows Native American use from as early as 2300BC! With its long and varied history � and scientifically proven worth in keeping people healthy, there are now many uses of these popular seeds.

Growing sunflower seed at home is a rewarding experience and the myriad of uses for the seeds will only enhance your kitchen. The sunflower is remarkably unfussy as to where it will grow so long as it has plenty of sun. Sunflowers are found in such diverse places ranging from the swamps of the Amazon to the Mojave Desert � showing how resilient and adaptable the sunflower is.

The sunflower should be planted after the last frost of the year, with the seeds being planted around an inch deep and approximately 6 inches apart. Once the sunflower seedlings pop out from the ground, you should place them around 1,5 feet apart from each other � dwarf varieties can be closer (around a foot). You should water frequently after planting until they start to sprout - after that period, watering once a week should be enough.

However, if you do not have the time/space to grow your own sunflowers, the seeds are available in most supermarkets. You can buy them roasted or fresh � though cultural preferences will dictate whether they are available shelled or not. In the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe � they are frequently sold in the shell, whereas in Western Europe and America they are favored out of shell.

Sunflower seeds are one of natures most nutritious foods, with protein, vitamin E and Iron all very tightly packed into that little shell. Gram for gram, sunflower seeds compare favorably in comparison to beef, while it has one of the largest concentrations of Vitamin E in the plant kingdom. Vitamin E is linked to reduced heart disease due to it being an anti-oxidant that cleanses the free radicals that cause heart disease.

Toasted sunflower seeds are slightly lower in nutrients than raw, also having more calories and fat content. However, the raw sunflower seeds are high in phosphorous � which could lead to a loss of calcium if taken too liberally. The highest nutritional content comes from sprouting sunflower seeds. It�s not hard to imagine why, due to the fact that the tiny sprout has enough food in it to grow into a 6-12 foot plant. A marked increase in all vitamins and in protein is noticed in the sprouts.

Sunflower seeds themselves can be used in a variety of recipes � from sauces to spreads � to add flavor and nutty goodness, but are most commonly found in breads and muesli. You will often find sunflower seeds on buns, in whole wheat loaves of bread and even in pastas. Despite the heavy emphasis on baked goods, there are a large collection of sunflower seed recipes around and make good use of the sunflower seed�s unique and special taste.

Adding the sunflower seed to your diet will make you healthier, and give a special taste your dishes � could you really afford not to have it on your table?

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