Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunflower Power

Here’s a riddle for you: What is colorful and happy and smiling at the sun when empty, but bloated and droopy and falling apart when full? Give up? The answer, of course, is the sunflower. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of driving past a field of sunflowers when they are at their cheeriest, basking-in-the-sun splendor, you no doubt have witnessed them well before they are ripe and ready for harvest. Their flowery heads are tilted toward the sun, soaking in the rays like coeds during Spring Break, full of color and promise. It is a sight I never tire of.

Yet when these stunning flowers are ready for plucking, they appear almost depressed: heads bowed by the weight of their plump seeds, once vivid yellow and orange petals now wilted and brown, leaves shriveled and battered by that same sun they once seemed to worship (like those aforementioned coeds, who right about now, after too much exposure to the sun, are just as shriveled and sun-battered).

The sunflower is one of those paradoxes I enjoy, a mystery of nature—a lovely flower that brings both pleasure and sustenance, beauty and, ahem, the beast. For me, there is nothing as picturesque as a blooming sunflower field, nor as sad as one ready for harvest. But once they are beheaded (ouch!) and have had all of their seeds removed, they change from that ugly duckling into a swan of amazing health benefits and tasty treats.

Here’s another riddle for you: How can a city boy harvest sunflowers without making a mess of things? This is how:

How to...Harvest and Eat Sunflower Seeds

Easy to grow and surprisingly easy to harvest, sunflowers are a popular choice for the weekend gardener while also a booming industry. Sunflower seeds are used to feed birds and baseball players; they are great in salads and in baked goods; and delicious as a snack or to start your day in your breakfast cereals. Sunflower oil is considered one of the healthier oils, high in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, while low in saturated fats. It also has a higher smoke point which makes it a useful oil to fry with.

But wait, there’s more!

There always is, Mike.

True, especially when it’s about the healthy stuff.

Knew you’d get to that part eventually.

You know me well. Here goes:


1. high in vegetable protein (around 5g per serving)
2. an excellent source of vitamin E
3. filled with good fats (low in sat fats!)
4. fiber! (Need I say more? Yes? Talk to Bernie.)
5. lowers bad cholesterol (because of the phytosterols)
6. loaded with magnesium (which helps reduce asthma, control high blood pressure, strengthen bones)
7. fights cancer (due to the high content of selenium)
8. a heart-healthy snack (low in carbs and calories; high in good fats and fiber)
9. may make you smarter (from the choline, which helps with memory and cognitive functions)

But wait, there’s even more!

What, some goofy video?

Er, um, I wouldn’t exactly call it goofy…

But it IS a video, right?

As I said, you know me well…

Sunflower Power

One of the staple foods for the Native Americans for over 5,000 years, sunflowers were a popular choice then and still are today.

The next time I pass by a field overflowing with sunflowers, either rich in color and basking in the sun or hunched over from the weight of their delicious seeds, I’ll smile a smile of contentment and knowledge, while offering a silent homage to their amazing power.

Until next time…




Rex Harris said...

Very insightful post concerning the sunflower. It's funny how there are those things in life that I've never given a second thought but when you hear it from the perspective of another it makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing!

Susan Blake said...

Power to the flower, great videos, as per usual! I do love snacking on them. Haven't grown them in decades tho - forgot what fun they are to watch growing too - thanks for sharing! My garden this year is pathetic - totally the weather! No sun, no heat - lots of green tomatoes!

Hope those California fires aren't anywhere near you!

Anonymous said...

A valuable post on sunflower power.

Karim - Positive thinking

Dori said...

I love sunflowers...they are such a happy looking flower. And the seeds are tasty too. Thanks for sharing all this info about them with us :)

Robin said...

Hi Mike - I love sunflowers! And I really like lightly toasted sunflower seeds with rice dishes. Cheers!

(Mike - when are you going to get a gravatar?)

Unknown said...

rex: some of the healthiest food choices around are ones right under our noses...

suz: gardens are tempermental, like the weather...and those fires are hundreds of miles away...this time...thanks for asking

prtricewilliam: thanks for the positive comment

dori: they are a happy flower...until we chop their heads off

robin: tasty treats, but time consuming to get those shells off...i'm signed up on gravatar, what do you suggest i need to do next? i'm all ears...



Cascia Talbert said...

Sunflowers are wonderful and the seeds are incredibly good for you.

Rod said...

I used to eat a ton of sunflowers when I was young, but I've stayed away from them due to the high salt content I find in the majority of grocery stores. However I can see how you can control the salt content if you grow and harvest your own, not to mention how sunflowers cann make your garden look. Good post Mike, makes want me want to grow some of my own.

redkathy said...

Oh what a great post Mike. Sunflowers are one of my favorites. I see them as a a gift, delicious, healthy, and beautiful. You know I almost planted sunflowers this year. Got too busy with the herbs and decided to leave for next time around.

Unknown said...

cascia: you know, i agree!

rod: a good point--do it yourself and control the sodium...or sugar...or butter...or...you get the picture...

redkathy: i like what you said: a gift. yes, we sometimes take for granted all of the wonderful gifts that nature offers us...



Jackie said...

We are sunflower devotees here at this house. Our entire family loves them.

We always plant extras too for all of the birds and squirrels.

Wonderful post Mike! peace and happy Sunflowers to you!

kRiZcPEc said...

didn't know about these bits of sunflowers before, thanks Mike. :)

Faisal Admar said...

here in Malaysia we fry the seed and it becomes something that we called "kuacee". it's very delicious!

have you ever tried it?

Fin said...

Very Useful and nice info for Sun flower :)

Unknown said...

shinade: one of the challenges is getting to them before the birds and squirrels...smart idea.

kriz: an overlooks healthy food choice

faisal: never tried it, will like to...

fin: thanks for stopping by...



betchai said...

oh, i saw a wide field of sunflower farm somewhere in sacramento valley, and i forgot they were farmed for their seeds :) thanks for sharing the info.

vicy said...

Wow what a great post Mike..I've tried to eat sunflower seeds before..Nways, Thank you so much for the visit and comment..Have a wonderful day..Btw, I am following your blog

Unknown said...

betchai: as i said in the post, they are a sight to behold...

vicy: thanks for stopping by...



Jackie said...

Hi Mike,
I am sorry I forgot to add you today on my post.

I just grabbed this addie and you will be in on my post Sunday!!

Thanks so much for joining my contest and good luck!! If you want your other blog listed then please let me know.

Remember you have all of the month of September to do a mention about it and it does not have to be an entire post.

Happy weekend and peace!

Maude Lynn said...

Thanks, Mike! I didn't know that about the high smoke point.

michael said...

Well its no wonder the birds like them. Great blog

Fat Buster said...

You definitely know your stuff about sunflowers and healthy eating. Thanks for an insight.

If you would like a colon cleanse you can take a look at my site, it's a non invasive variety of cleanse.

Healthy Journey

Unknown said...

shinade: thanks for the information...

mama: good to know when deep frying (something i seldom do) or stir-frying (more my speed)

michael: and if they're good for the birds...

fatbuster: will check it out, though i prefer high-fiber ways for cleansing...

peace and happy labor day...


Unknown said...

I love sunflowers..
nice info blog
i like this info..
thanks a lot

diabetic diets

Amy said...

I've never been lucky enough to see an entire field of sunflowers, only a lonesome one here and there.

I do however have rather a large addiction to sunflower seed butter so it's good to know my addiction isn't all bad!

Jackie said...

Mike I could just kick myself. We just harvested and toasted some sunflowers.

I took photos all the way through the process.

I haven't downloaded and edited the all of the photos yet.

If they turn out I will get a post up with the pictures.

It may be some time next week. But, when I do I will give you a little mention.

I am glad to be here visiting with you today. Thank you so much.

I also have your address again and will try to get you added to my blog roll today.

I lost it the other day due to a power surge and have been lazy in tracking it back down.

This afternoon I am racing against the clock and thunderstorms but I am saving your address to my desktop right now...just in case!!

We thought about you the entire time we were getting our seeds ready and they are delicious!!


Ratty said...

I really like your post about the sunflower seeds. Your information was very complete. I have liked your blog ever since I discovered it close to a year ago. It's always been exactly the right amount of entertaining and informative, exactly what I aspire to for mine. I think I'm going to have to stop by more often from now on. :)

Unknown said...

upin: sunflowers can help fight diabetes too

vegetation: never tried the sunflower seed butter, but will have to give it a try...

jackie: sounds great, would love to see those pics...

ratty: thanks for noticing...i try to entertain while informing...



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