Tuesday, July 23, 2013

S is for Sunflower

S is for Sunflower
Yes, you saw this one coming, didn't you? When I think of "S" for flowers, sunflower is certainly the first one to come to my mind.

When I think of sunflowers, I think of Kansas, the Sunflower State. The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas. Incidentally, I lived in Kansas a couple years, when I was around the ages of my oldest two children. I remember seeing field after field of sunflowers. Such cheery, sunny flowers!
The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head), and its name is derived from the flower's shape and image, which is often used to depict the sun. The plant has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves, and circular heads of tangential petals. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production. (Wikipedia)
Not only are sunflowers beautiful to look at, but their seeds are important nutritionally. They are a tasty snack, but are also useful in various dishes.

I'll share a few recipes:

Sunny Banana Pancakes

3 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp. salt
1 T. aluminum-free baking powder
2 eggs
2 T. oil
2 T. honey
2 ½ cups milk
1 cup chopped sunflower seeds
2 diced bananas

Mix dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat eggs, oil, honey, and milk. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Stir in seeds and bananas. Makes 25-30 small pancakes.

Variation: for extra nutrition add 1 T. each of ground chia seeds, sesame seeds, and 1 T. nutritional yeast flakes. (Sometime I'll experiment with this one, to make it vegan)


1 ½ c. water
½ unfermented soy sauce (Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
4 ½ c. rolled oats
¼ c. oil
1 large onion, chopped
½ t. garlic powder
1 c. sunflower seeds
½ t. Italian seasoning
2 T. nutritional yeast flakes

Bring water and soy sauce to boil; add oats and cook for about 8 minutes on medium heat. Set aside to cool. Saute onions in skillet until tender. Add to the oat mixture. Mix in rest of ingredients. Form into patties. Bake at 350 approximately 10 minutes each side.

Sunflower Seed Sour Cream

2/3 c. sunflower seeds
¾ c. water
½ t. salt
2 T. lemon juice
¼ t. garlic powder
½ t. onion powder

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth.

In case you haven't discovered yet, we love feeding and watching our backyard birds. Their favorite seed is sunflower. We buy large bags of it at the feed store, just plain sunflower seeds, nothing else mixed in.

Here's a fun time-lapse video to show your kids, of a sunflower blossom.

Other interesting resources about sunflowers:

How to draw a sunflower

Can you think of any other flowers or plant which begin with "S"?

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