Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cranberry Sunflower Seed Crunch

I was at a coffee shop waiting in line the other day, which gave me plenty of time to ogle their snack selection, most of which is off limits. The place actually two GF/DF items. Of course, I had to buy them both to test their merits. The first one was a cookie light as air with about as much flavor, resembling a muffin top. The second one was a highly overpriced sesame seed crunch bar of some sort (I recycled the package) that almost took my front teeth out trying to bite into it.

This is my problem. Half the time it seems that if it’s good for you, it’s painful to eat.

Because I’m just sick of the disappointment, I’ve given up on even trying to make cupcakes or cakes or bread. I just don’t feel like compromising on taste just to experience the shadow of the real thing. The other day I decided to give my bread machine one final try with GF bread mixes, but my subconscious had already made up its mind that bread was bad before I even opened the package. I carefully mixed everything together and turned it on. About a half an hour later, after the mixing cycle had stopped, I peered through the little window at the top and realized that I had forgotten a key ingredient: 1 ½ cups of water. I poured in the water. I tried to mix it. When the timer went off several hours later, I pulled a lumpy soggy loaf and threw it straight in the trash. I thought about giving it to the squirrels, but I didn’t want to punish them.

While I watched my Frankenbread rise and then plop down again, sputtering, I figured that it was high time for another experiment. Why not try to make a crunchy snack like the one at the store? If it didn't work out, I would at least have something to give the squirrels.

I started out with the idea of halvah, but without the sugar and crumbliness, then gathered up ingredients that tasted good and threw them all in the blender. I used my grandmother’s little wooden biscuit cutter to make cute little sesame circles after spreading the "dough" onto a cutting board. There's a trick to getting the circles to come out--push down on the biscuit cutter, twist, then lift it up.

While it was cooking, I googled to find out if what I was making actually held some nutritional merit. Sunflower seeds have lots of vitamin E*, sesame seeds have loads of calcium*, and brown rice syrup has a low glycemic index, according to the jar. Plus both seeds are good for lowering cholesterol levels*. As long as you don’t eat the whole batch in one go, they seem to be pretty good for a snack. Crunchy on the outside, a little chewy on the inside. Perfect for that 2:30 p.m. body slowdown. 

Sunflower Cranberry Crunch

2 cups sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
2-3 tbsp coconut milk
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup brown rice syrup

Pulse seeds and coconut milk in blender until a smooth paste forms. You may have to stop it and stir it a little, as it has a tendency to form a big glob on one side. Add a little more coconut milk to make it blend better, but not too much so that it gets goopy. Spoon it into a bowl.

Pulse the cocoa powder, syrup and dried cranberries in blender until it looks mixed together and the cranberries look cut up.

Combine the seed mixture and the cranberry mixture. Roll into a ball and then flatten on a cutting board. Use a cookie cutter or biscuit mold to cut them into circles (or other shapes). Transfer these to a silpat baking sheet.

Cook for about 15 minutes at 325, then turn them over and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Both sides should be light brown.

*info from http://www.whfoods.com/


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