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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Homemade sunbutter

Sunbutter is a delicious alternative for those who are allergic or sensitive to peanuts. The creamy spread, made from sunflower seeds, has the same texture, color and appearance as peanut butter. It's rich in nutrition but there are downsides: the price and difficulty in finding it in grocery stores.

I have winced at the price but have purchased sunbutter for years. $6-8 for sunbutter recently inspired me to try making my own and see how much I could save.

I purchased raw sunflower seeds for $1.70 a pound in bulk and figured I would need 2 1/2 cups to make a pound of sunbutter. That equates to $4.25 for seeds compared to $6.99 for sunbutter which I paid at my most recent purchase. I calculate a savings of about $2.70.

I also tried making pumpkin butter, another pricey alternative spread ($10-12). Pumpkin seeds cost more: $3+. I haven't done the cost analysis on making my own pumpkin butter yet but I'll figure that out next time I purchase pumpkin seeds.

To make sunflower or pumpkin butter:

Begin by toasting one or two cups of seeds either in a skillet or baking sheet in low heat oven. I set the oven for 325 degrees and kept a close eye on the seeds.

Note #1: don't skip the toasting step. This is key to getting the seeds to turn into a creamy butter.

Note #2: The toastier the seeds the more intense the flavor.

Cool the seeds slightly.

Pour into your food processor and begin grinding. Gradually add in 2 or more tablespoons of grapeseed or other oil, and continue processing until you have a smooth paste.

Add a few drops of liquid stevia or other sweetener if desired.

You also can make your own designer sunbutter by adding your favorite ingredients, such as 1 tablespoon of cocoa or carob powder. Try cinnamon and vanilla sunbutter. Or add a bit of ground flax.

That's all it takes to make some delicious sunbutter or pumpkin butter with a chunky texture. It does take some time but if you eat a lot of the stuff it can save you some money.

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