Miserable weather and cooped-up, bored teens and "tweens" can be a recipe for disaster for the parent on duty. Not only are you the designated entertainment committee, but the offspring insist upon being fed -- often, and in copious amounts. Since snacks are often their No. 1 food choice, give them nutritious sunflower seeds. Just don't tell them that these irresistible little morsels are good for them. Bake up a big batch of fresh sunflower seeds and turn it into a household project. It's a great way to entertain youngsters of all ages on a rainy afternoon.
Pour 1 cup raw sunflower seeds in the shells in a colander. Rinse well under cold running water. Hand-pick and remove any debris.
Add the sunflower seeds to 2 qts. of water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours. Omit the salt if you're watching sodium levels. These are delicious without it.
Drain the sunflower seeds in the colander, but don't rinse them. Spread them out on paper towels in a single layer to air dry completely at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the sunflower seeds out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir them around every 5 to 10 minutes while they're baking. They're done when they begin turning a light golden brown.
Set on a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the snacks warm.