Every day, Sadie gives me the countdown till the end of summer. School starts early this year, so as of today, we’re ten days out.
Honestly, summer’s a little bit over already. Yesterday we spent our annual hour in Staples buying school supplies. We walked through those automatic doors optimistic, clutching the holy school supply lists and excited to BUY BUY BUY! But what started out well quickly dissolved into the panicked scavenger hunt I always forget it will be, and before we knew it we were sprinting down the aisles, searching, begging anyone in a red polyester vest for the right brand of pencil sharpener or the binder that seems to be the one size that’s not on the shelf. We left heavier, a little defeated, poorer, but with most of what we needed.
Now is also the moment when we start thinking about school lunches. I scrub out the lunch boxes and come to terms with the fact that every single reusable container is missing a top. We start thinking in terms of sandwiches. I start thinking about granola bars again. We dream of soup in cute thermoses, carrots cut into shapes, and new exciting containers for homemade yogurt.
I will not get bogged down. I will get intimidated by lunch box pictures on instagram. I will not try to vary from the the tried and true sandwich.
This is also the moment when I have to start to read every label to make sure what Joey and the girls are taking to school is nut-free. I’m good with this. I know a lot of kids who have crazy allergies and I’m happy to do my part to keep them safe.
Enter sunflower butter. It’s grey. It’s filled with sugar because boy does it need it. When you can have peanut butter or almond butter, sunflower butter is usually going to be left untouched. But sometimes it’s necessary, and finally I’ve found a way to make it that I really like. It turns out the key (as it so often is) was maple syrup. It brings out the nice nuttiness of the seeds, adds a richness to it, and even improves its color a bit.
Maple Sun Butter
Makes about 2 cups
1 pound raw sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons honey
3 teaspoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until aromatic and just beginning to color, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the seeds cool for a few minutes.
2. Place the seeds, salt, and honey in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the seeds break down into a coarse meal, then gather around the blade, then loosen up again, 3 to 4 minutes. With the motor still running, drizzle the oil into the bowl through the shoot in the lid, and process until creamy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup during the last few moments of processing. Store in the refrigerator.
That’s starting early? We always start Sept 1 out here in WI but my family in IN headed back nearly 2 weeks ago! I lucked out with my kid – she loves the predictability of the same lunch every day all year long, yogurt, string cheese, raw veg, fresh fruit, and pretzels/crackers. And heaven forbid I mess with that by sending something as crazy as a sandwich. Makes the nut-free world pretty easy to live in.
It’s funny- I feel like it’s early because it’s pre-September, even if just by a day!
My boys returned to school yesterday. They bring the same sandwich every single day and they’re happy with that.
Their school is not nut free which is a very good thing. My very tall, very thin boys with BMIs of less than 8, need all the protein and calories they can get before cross country practice and practically live on peanut butter crackers and protein granola bars that are filled with peanut butter and nuts.
Margaret Roach says
I am sending nobody to school soon with lunch, but am “putting up” sauces and soups and such for the offseason, into the freezer. And so when you said “come to terms with the fact that every single reusable container is missing a top,” I hooted.
Perhaps I have yours and you have mine? Wouldn’t that be a relief.
Still meaning to get all those tupperwares lidded…. one of these days!
This is the very first year I’ll be sending my little boy to school. The feeling is bittersweet, I’m so happy and exited for him but also so sad to say goodbye to his baby-days.
On another note I was wondering what just a touch of turmeric would do to this spread. Would it taste good? It would definitely make it more…sunny! 🙂 I will try this recipe and get back to you as how it turns out for me.
Enjoy those last days Sadie!
Ah- happy first year! I think turmeric wouldn’t quite give you the gold you want- the maple darkens it, which bring it more to a golden place. But try! Let us know! I do love turmeric in pretty much everything.
Thank you so much for this recipe. My son is anaphylactic to all nuts. He loves a good sunbutter sandwich and will be excited to try this with maple syrup. Also, wanted to thank you in your kindness to happily participate in sending your littles safe lunches! It means the world to an allergy parent!!
Alana, I just made this – delicious! It makes such a difference toasting the sunflower seeds properly!
Yay! SO glad to hear it.