Sunflower seeds are not just food for the birds. This seed is used in many recipes, such as bread, cereal, granola and sprinkled on salads. Perhaps the best way to prepare and eat sunflower seeds is baked. It's the perfect natural snack that is easily packed in lunches or backpacks for hiking or camping. Consider munching on them, while watching television, instead of eating greasy popcorn. These baked seeds can top vegetables, casseroles, oatmeal or replace nuts in cookies.
The first step to preparing baked sunflower seeds is to make sure they are clean. It is important to wash the seeds, removing any dirt, dead insects or pesticides. Proper cleaning will make sure that none of these unwanted items fall into the seeds, when you shell them after baking. Simply place the seeds into a colander or large strainer and run cold water over the top, moving them about with your hand.
Soak the seeds overnight, in water, to soften the shells. By pre-softening the shells, they will be more easily removed after baking.
Salt is the most popular flavoring used, while baking sunflower seeds. To get that salty flavor, you can simply add salt to the water when you pre-soak them. You could also just sprinkle the shells, every so often, as the sunflower seeds bake. The method that assures you salty seeds is to place them in a bowl and drizzle vegetable oil over the top of them. With a spoon, mix the seeds, coating them thoroughly. Spread them onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle salt over the top. To reduce the negative effect of too much salt in your diet, use natural sea salt, which does not raise blood pressure.
If you aren't too keen on salting your baked sunflower seeds, consider alternate flavorings. Use any of the three salting processes to add chili powder, garlic powder, soy sauce or Parmesan cheese. Try different combinations until you find a signature flavoring of your own. Of course, the seeds can be baked, plain, without flavorings.
The process of baking your sunflower seeds is not a difficult one. Simply, preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray oil onto a cookie sheet. Spread the sunflower seeds onto it in a single layer and bake them for approximately 10 to 30 minutes, stirring half way through. Bake them the longer amount of time, if you prefer drier sunflower seeds.