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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sunflower Cookies: A Collaboration with GourMaya

I first met Maya a bit more than a year ago. Her sister-in-law, a friend of mine, had suggested her to attend one of my classes while she was still in maternity leave from her job in finance. "Your cup of tea," she had written in the subject when forwarding her the email I had sent promoting a healthy cooking class series.
Her baby nurse failed to show up that morning, so Maya came with her gorgeous--then newborn-- baby girl in tow. We were all in awe and there was this aura of serenity and softness around Maya and the baby that made the attendees and the hostess (my dear, dear, dear friend C) feel very zen and maternal. A lovely kitchen scene!
Since then on, Maya and I remained friends, shared recipes, tips, ideas, questions and information. She started her own blog, GourMaya, last year, and in it she shares clean eating recipes, and the experience of feeding her family, while balancing a busy career, healthy meals and beautiful aesthetics. In her own words: "Super Foods for Supermoms."
Not long ago, she came over to bake. We had a great time, and I didn't want her to leave! Since there are some allergies (mainly nuts and soy) in her family, we made Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies, which were given thumbs up in her home. The recipe was so well received, that Maya created a filling for them, turning them into lovely clean cookie sandwiches. Click here to get Maya's recipe and to check out her blog.

This cookie recipe is one of my most favorite ones! It's fast, easy, vegan, gluten free, nut free, and also free of refined sweeteners, cane sugar, white flour and gums.'s full of sunflower seed goodness.

For some reason, sunflower seeds are a very underused ingredient, and that's a shame, as they are high in vitamin E (just 1/4 cup supplies 90% of the recommended daily allowance), a very important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that protects our body against disease.
Sunflower seeds also contain selenium, which together with vitamin E promotes DNA repair. They are rich in magnesium, fiber, vitamins B1, B5 and folate, copper, selenium and phosphorous, all nutrients needed in different pathways of our metabolism.
They are a good source of protein and good fats. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to find. So I know I just convinced you....

To obtain the maximum nutritional benefits of these seeds (and most seeds and nuts), it's best to purchase raw ones (unsalted, of course) and soak them overnight in water, to make their nutrients more available to our bodies. Just drain and rinse before eating them.


You can either make your own or use store-bought sunflower seed butter. I personally like the Sunbutter brand in the "organic" version, as it's the only one from that brand with no added sugar. This company's facility is nut free, in case there's an allergy issue, as most other sunflower seed butters I've seen are processed together with nuts.

However, my favorite way of preparing them is with homemade raw sunflower seed butter. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Martha Stewart, and whenever I can find a short cut, I take it. But, making your own is way cheaper, super fast and a food processor does all the hard work (minus the washing, which is my least favorite part of cooking/baking. I bet Martha doesn't like it either. But then again, I'm sure she just doesn't have to do it).

Homemade Raw Sunflower Butter:
In a glass (or plastic BPA-free) bowl, soak 1 1/2 cups of raw, shelled sunflower seeds in fresh water (enough to cover by 2 inches).
Cover with plastic wrap (or lid) and refrigerate overnight.
Next day drain seeds and rinse them. Pat them dry with a paper towel and throw them in the food processor along with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste).
Process until smooth. You can stop pureeing when there are still some smaller pieces, if you are the chunky nut butter kind of person.
Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Besides the following cookies recipe, you can use the sunflower butter instead of nut or peanut butter. You can add a bit of date puree or maple syrup to sweeten it.

All said,  I present you, the COOKIES:


1 ¼ cups (10.5 oz) sunflower seed butter
7 tbsp (3.5 oz) pure maple syrup
7 tbsp (3.5 oz) coconut palm sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil or expeller pressed grape seed oil
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ (7 oz) whole oat flour (use gluten free oat flour if needed)
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 sheet pans with

In a bowl, mix with a spatula the sunbutter, maple
syrup, coconut sugar, oil and vanilla.

Once incorporated, whisk in flour, baking soda and

Scoop dough out with cookie scoop into lined pans
leaving 2 inches in between cookies, then with a fork,
press cookies in a crosshatched pattern.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly golden.

NOTE: These cookies might turn green after they are baked. Especially if they are made with homemade sunbutter. This is due to a chemical reaction between the chlorophyll in the seeds and the baking soda added.
It's not a sign of spoilage, and they are safe to eat. Just a fun natural change of color!


Makes about 70 cookies
Both cookies and cookie dough freeze really well.