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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Join Me for Merienda: Vegan and Gluten Free Raw Sunflower Seed CreamCheese/Ricotta/Dip/Spread/Sauce

Hello again,

I started playing around with sunflower seeds a while back, but only recently tried making more things from them because the cost of  most nuts is pretty high (and probably always will be because of how long they take to grow and how they have to be harvested etc. Vegan Cheese and cream sauces made from cashews are heavenly, but you know that it can be pricey to buy those 16oz bags, even from the discounted places. Sunflower seeds however are always usually in a good price range and readily available. I normally pay 1.99 or less for 1lb of raw sunflower seeds at my local markets. Contrast that to cashews at a cost of 7-9 dollars per pound and it quickly eats up your grocery budget. I'm not saying not to buy cashews because, c'mon cashews, as long as you're not allergic to them; they are awesome. I mean cashew nut butter, so good!!!!
Honestly, I feel fancy when I can indulge in some of that ;p

Anyway, sunflower seeds are cost effective and with a bit of finesse you can create something pretty darn delectable with them.  This is also great for any of those who are allergic to nuts or simply prefer to avoid them due to various health issues.

Garlic and Dill version atop a slice of multiseed toast

Jesscaf√© Vegan and Gluten Free  Raw Sunflower Seed Cream Cheese/Ricotta/Dip/Spread/Sauce 
(All of these slashes are making Guns N' Roses nervous ;p


Ingredients:


1 1/3C Soaked Raw Sunflower Seeds
1/3C or less of a neutral oil like Canola etc.
1-2tsp Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
1Tb Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
2-3TB Cold Filtered Water

So let's get into the method:

You absolutely need to soak the sunflower seeds and the longer they soak the smoother your end product will be. My preference is at least 3 days, I usually have a glass jar in the fridge with some soaking in them; so I'm ready to make some;if need be.

After 3 days the water looks like this


Soaked and rinsed
After soaking you'll notice that the water turns kind of dark and that's normal. You need to rinse them well and remove any excess water before using them in this recipe.

I use a nutribullet to process these, with the small cup and the whipping/grinding blade attachment.
You may need to adjust depending on your equipment, but most food processors should work well.
Make sure that you do not go over the 'Max Fill Line,' of the cup or you'll have a messy problem on your hands. 

You simply put all of the ingredients into the cup, screw on the lid and shake everything around for a few seconds and then let it come together for about 30 seconds. If it seems like the blades won't mix it well enough, you'll need to add a tad bit more of the cold filtered water, shake it around with the lid on and then let it go to blend into a smoother consistency. It should take less than 3 minutes total to get everything blended well.

Right after blending

It's pretty much done, once you've blended it, but you of course can build upon this base and add in other yummy components for sweet verisons like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, chocolate or for savory verisons like garlic, nutritional yeast, scallions, red onions, sesame, dill, rosemary, oregano, mint,  roasted red peppers and so forth.

Super duper garlic, dill, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper with a dusting of chipotle on top

I recommend leaving it in the fridge overnight before using; so that the flavors get a chance to bloom. The following day you'll also see that the texture of it will improve and have more body to it. 

As mentioned in my long title, you can use this for a myriad of things, I even have thinned it out to make a creamy sauce for pasta ( add in some extra garlic, black pepper and a dash of nutmeg for something reminiscent of alfredo sauce flavors). It's not going to be as smooth as a cashew cream would be, but the flavor of the sunflower is subtle, still present, but it's really tasty all the same.

I hope that you'll try this out and make some awesome recipes with it.
I know that I'll probably be bringing some to the next dinner party =)
Wanna come? ;p

I'm sure that you might even be able to make some air cured and aged vegan cheese with this mixture, with the right conditions. I unfortunatley cannot test it out at this time because I don't have a great space to set it out, where it wouldn't be disturbed, but I will be sure to post and update about it; if I ever get a chance to make some.

Wishing you all good health
and happy cooking as always <3

Love,
Jessica








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