3 girls with sunflowers covering their faces

The Edible Parts of Sunflower Plants

We grow sunflowers for their beauty and as food sources. Sunflower seeds are a delicacy for birds but can also make an excellent addition to your favorite salads or bread! Seeds are not the only edible part of sunflowers as you will see as you read further.

3 girls with sunflowers covering their faces
Photo by Florian Doppler from Pexels

Sunflower plants are edible in their entirety: the leaves, the petals, the roots, the stalks, the shells, and our favorite, the seeds. Yes, every part. Commercial products include roasted seeds, oil, sun butter, and sunflower meal usually feed to animals. Uncommon foods, but gaining in popularity, are cookies, bread, and muffins.

Yes! You Can Eat Sunflower Shells

The sunflower shells are rich in calcium and fiber, making them a great option for people who wish to add more nutrients to their diet. Caution should be taken not to eat too many due to their high fiber content. Also, be sure to chew them adequately to prevent any chance of puncturing the digestive system or esophagus.

They’re not just there to protect the delicious seed – they also have lots of good stuff like protein, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. They’re great for making soup stock and are often used as a thickener to add flavor and texture. Sunflower shells also have another use: they make excellent toothpicks!

You Can Eat Sunflower Leaves Too

As a general rule, you can eat sunflower leaves raw, fried, boiled, or added in with other foods. The age of the leaves determines how you would want to eat them as they become bitter the older they are. Young fresh leaves will be best.

One of my favorite things about gardening is creating beautiful spaces with edible foods. I like plants that do double duty! Making recipes with flowering plants that aren’t vegetables is not only a challenge sometimes but also very rewarding. Try using the young leaves of sunflowers as a burrito wrap for eggs or tuna salad. Speaking of salad, those leaves can go right in mixed with other leafy vegetables.

The best way to eat them is to boil them for a few minutes in salted water and then fry them with butter, garlic and parsley. And of course, you can always make tea with the leaves or petals.

How To Make Sunflower Leaf Tea

There are many benefits to drinking sunflower leaf tea, including detoxifying your body, improving digestion, promoting weight loss, and reducing cholesterol levels. It is easy to make sunflower leaf tea at home! 

It is helpful to preheat your teacup with some warm water. Boil enough water for the amount of tea you wish to make. Place dried sunflower leaves into a container and pour the boiling water over the top of them. Let steep for at least 15 minutes and then strain. Add lemon if you wish and enjoy! It’s that simple.

Eating Sunflower Stalks and Sprouts

You can eat all parts of a sunflower including the stalks and grow sprouts from the seeds. The stalks are not poisonous and taste a little bit like celery or raw cabbage and can be treated in almost the same way. Sprouts should only be eaten fresh because cooking will diminish their powerpack of minerals and vitamins.

Have you heard that sunflower sprouts are actually a complete food? You don’t want to miss out on how delicious they are when sprouted so make sure these seeds get planted today! The seeds sprout quickly, some within 48 hours, and can be stored for several days in your refrigerator once you harvest them.

Let’s Eat Sunflower Petals!

The sunflower is a beautiful, hardy flower that can be grown in almost any climate. But did you know that the petals are edible too? They’re an excellent source of vitamin A and they don’t have to be cooked to eat them.

One of my favorites and easiest is to simply toss them into a salad adding a bright bold color to all those leafy greens. As the gardening season starts to end, make sure to grab all those petals and dry them for making tea over the cold winter months.

Can You Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, you can eat sunflower seeds. The seeds that we eat are actually called kernels. They are the meat inside the hard outer shell and are a powerhouse for vitamin E. 100 grams of seed (about 3.5 ounces) contain 26.1 mg, almost 50% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

My favorite way to eat them is roasted and sprinkled with salt. Even though the shells are edible, I prefer to break them open and get rid of the shell before eating. Don’t overdo it though, as they contain high amounts of fat.

Sunflower Butter Cookies Recipe

sunflower cookies
Photo by Eve Lina on Unsplash

Have you been looking for a new cookie recipe?

This is the perfect recipe to whip up in your kitchen. It’s quick and easy, but most importantly it tastes great! You can make them as big or small as you want, so they’re perfect for any occasion. Plus, they’re vegan-friendly!

When I was growing up my grandma always had her garden full of the beautiful flowers and there were always plenty in the house for me to eat. She would use them to make delicious dishes like this easy recipe for Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies.

1 cup sunflower butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups oatmeal (old fashioned or quick-cooking)
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sunflower seed kernels (roasted, salted, or unsalted)

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine margarine and sugars until well-blended. Add the vanilla. Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, add to the margarine mixture. Stir in oatmeal, coconut, and sunflower seeds. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are brown around the edges.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. May substitute chocolate chips or raisins for coconut. The dough can be frozen. Serve alongside some Sunflower Tea!

Give this recipe a try today and let us know what you think! We love hearing from our readers. And don’t forget to share with your friends on social media too – we’d love to see how much everyone loves these cookies!

If you would like more recipes using sunflowers, the National Sunflower Association is a great resource for all things sunflower.

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