After a week of hiking and eating PB&J sandwiches once, often twice a day (supplemented with salal berries!), I'm fairly peanut butter-ed out. On the bright side, this has led me to experiment with other nut and seed butters. Here's a peanut butter alternative made from a blend of pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds. It's rich, creamy, and super easy to make at home.
This recipe was inspired by a seed butter I tasted at the Portland farmers' market. I'd had pumpkin seed butter and sunflower seed butter before, but never the combination of the two, which turns out to be addictively satisfying. The addition of ground flaxseed enhances the nutty flavor and healthfulness of the butter. I highly recommend it whether you're allergic to peanuts or just looking for something different to spread on crackers, sandwiches, or apple slices.
One of the best things about making your own nut and seed butters is the ability to control additives. I like the flavor without salt or sugar, but feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking with salt, honey, or other sweeteners. For the oil, I used a combination of half pumpkin seed oil and half sunflower oil; pumpkin seed oil is deeply flavorful but a bit pricey. Another neutral-tasting oil like safflower or canola would also work.
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
About 1/4 cup pumpkin seed, sunflower, safflower, or canola oil
Sweetener such as honey, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup (optional)
Working in batches, toast pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over low heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning and remove from heat when fragrant.
Combine cooled pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and ground flaxseed in a food processor and process for a minute.
With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil. Continue processing until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. You may need to occasionally turn off the food processor and scrape it down with a spatula.
Taste and add salt and/or sweetener, if desired. (Add just a small amount at a time and taste frequently.)
If mixture is too dry, continue to add a little more oil, processing until desired consistency is reached.
Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Related: Make or Buy? Peanut Butter
(Images: Emily Ho)