Do da doo doo. It’s been a long, long lonely winter.

When George Harrison penned the song “Here Comes the Sun” while walking around Eric Clapton’s English garden, I think he might have meant “Here Come the Sunflower Seeds” but couldn’t make it work musically. That’s just my guess, because someone should have written a song about these little nutty gems by now. The sun gets too much airplay…it’s time to give it up for Sunflower Seeds.

Hi there. Would you like something that will make you less tired, more protected against cancer causing free radicals, help regulate your blood pressure, and make you happier? Oh, and it’s legal?

Have some sunflower seeds; they do all of the above and more. Sunflower seeds are best know for their high content of Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps counter free radicals that can damage cells and reduces your chances of developing certain cancers. The seeds also give you your daily does of iron, as well as zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium. The regulating of blood pressure happens because of the presence of good fat, or unsaturated fat, which I talked about in a previous post. And the happiness factor? That’s from the Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps process serotonin. The more serotonin we have the more relaxed we are; the more relaxed we are, the less anxious and depressed we feel.

Here are two of my favourite recipes that feature sunflower seeds. I bet these will be like bonus upgrades on your new healthy outlook – once you have them, you’ll wonder how you lived without them. How did I live without my remote car starter and heated seats? How have you lived without these recipes?!

The first recipe has all the flavours of summer. The sunflowers are nutty, the lemon mixed with the tamari is powerful on your tongue, and the cayenne pepper is the heat that we need this time of year. The sundried tomatoes and basil add the freshness that come with longer sunny days.

1 1/2 cups of unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup of tamari (it’s like soya sauce, which you can use if you don’t have tamari)
3/4 chopped sun-dried tomatoes
juice from one lemon
a handful of chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

Mix cayenne pepper, lemon juice and tamari in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and basil. Cover with tamari mixture and mix. Eat within two days.

The second recipe is a pesto that is dairy-free. I have basil plants and I find I can’t use up the basil fast enough. This recipe requires a bunch of basil, so it’s the perfect excuse to trim your plant. And I am aware how dirty that sounds, but it’s the truth.

A big handful of basil leaves
1/4 cup of sunflower oil
a clove (or scoop) of garlic
1/4 sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 tbsp of nutritional yeast (if you have it)

In the small cup of your magic bullet, or in your blender, blend all ingredients
Use on pasta or as a spread for crackers.