Salty snack! Tamari-Toasted Sunflower Seeds

I am a salty snack person. I always have been. As a kid I could barely consume my Halloween candy over the course of months, but I'd buy pretzel-cheese Combos with my allowance money and devour them on the 3-block walk home. My favorite childhood snack was a block of New York State Cheddar and a sleeve of Stoned Wheat Thins. Slice cheese, arrange on cracker, eat, repeat. Supremely satisfying.

In my 20s, I worked on the Appalachian Trail for several summers, and during one stint the crew coordinator laid in a bunch of snacks for us--all candy. I begged for just one thing that was crunchy and salty instead. She got me saltines. Perfect!

In the last few years, particularly since my Paleo stint, my salty-crunchy tastes have become laser-focused on cheesy crackers. Whether bunny shaped, fish shaped, or in small neat squares, cheesy crackers are my joy and my downfall. If I manage to avoid them all day, I WILL find and consume them late at night. They are so delicious!

But wait. Is there a healthy alternative to all of this processed savory delight? From time to time I remember that there is: tamari-toasted sunflower seeds like my mom used to make for party-finger-food. These little loves may be bursting with salt, but at least they don't contain white flour, right? Here's my easy recipe... 2 ingredients!

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 2 T Tamari (soy sauce is also fine)

  1. On medium heat, preheat a reliable flat pan or shallow skillet until you can feel the heat when you hold your hand about an inch above it.

  2. Pour in the sunflower seeds and start to gently stir and scrape them about. (I use a wooden rice paddle for this.) The goal is to leave no one seed on the bottom for too long.

  3. Keep gently stirring and scraping (some brief pauses are ok) as the seeds start to turn slightly golden. If they seem to be browning too quickly, turn the heat down. Be gentle!

  4. After 3-5 minutes (or more if you're being very cautious with the heat), most seeds should be golden and a few may be much darker. That's fine. The seeds have to be as toasted as you want at this point, because they don't cook much more in the remaining steps. 

  5. Pour a good glug of tamari over all the seeds in a circular motion. Your goal is to wet every seed. Then stir to help distribute the tamari among the seeds.

  6. With the heat still on, keep stirring and scraping the seeds as before. Things will get sticky because of the tamari. That is ok!

  7. Keep the seeds moving for another 30 seconds or more until the coating of tamari seems to have mostly dried. Some tamari will stick to the bottom of the pan--also OK. You want the seeds looking matte rather than glossy and wet.

  8. Pour the toasted seeds on a plate to cool.

  9. After cooling, if you haven't already eaten them all, store in a jar for your salty snack purposes!

So what about you? If you were offered sweets or salty-crunchy, which would you pick first?