As you’ve probably gleaned from the title, this is not a nut butter, nor is it a single-seed butter; instead, it’s a super seedy butter concoction. There are a total of 5 seeds in the mix, and, if you’re more daring than me, that number could definitely be amped-up to include more (though I personally will be leaving the concept of poppy seed butter on the burner, at least for now…) Pumpkin seeds make up the bulk of this butter, but you can definitely switch and swap the amounts of the other seeds to suit your fancy (think sunflower seeds are for birds? No offence taken, you can simply swap them out for more sesame or hemp seeds). For the sake of brevity in the title I adopted the Australian term for pumpkin seeds; “pepita” is also a far lovelier sounding name, don’t you think? “Pepita butter” tickles my fancy quite a bit more than clunky “pumpkin seed butter.” Some of my other Aussie word-translation favorites include: dragon fruit –> pitaya, papaya –> paw-paw, tomaytos –> tomahtos, cappucino-latte-espresso hybrid –> flat white. And now that I’ve traversed that tangent, I’ll get back to the point: I realize that the thought of “pumpkin seed butter” may seem a little frightening; it’s green and, perhaps for that reason alone, automatically conveys strangeness. The idea of doing anything other than apathetically sprinkling the seeds on top of your bowl of morning oatmeal may sound bizarre, but I’d like to convince you why you’re missing out if that’s all you think they’re good for.
To start: why seed butter? And why these seeds, in particular? Well, the odd truth is that I was beginning to feel a little strange about the inordinate amounts of almond butter I was consuming; almonds are a delicious, nutritious, all around amazing nut, but they also require a disproportionate amount of water to grow compared to other nuts and seeds. Also, my daily heaping-spoonfuls-of-almond-butter habit was beginning to wear down on it’s rightful novelty (which is never a good thing when a product is pricey, both in terms of $ and resources). I tried, and failed, to hop on the tahini-over-oatmeal bandwagon, but I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s a viable nut-butter replacement (but, as you’re probably thinking, why listen to me anyway? Tahini over oatmeal may in fact be your jam). Before re-resorting to my childhood obsession with peanut butter, I realized, in a moment of underwhelming epiphany, how much I like pumpkin seeds, how much I like butter, and how well those two things theoretically go together.
Suffice to say the transition to a seedier life has been smooth; this seed butter ticks all the boxes (creamy, tight-budget-friendly, healthy, not-gross). Having said that, however, there may be one caveat; it’s no new fact that the taste of “sweet” has to pervade nearly everything we Americans eat, but this seed butter will not deliver on that desire (unless, of course, you add a few pinches of sugar to the mix). The lack of naturally occurring sugars in these seeds (say, compared to almonds/cashews, which are actually very sweet relatively speaking), may come as a surprise, especially if you’re used to sweetened nut butter. Nonetheless, as murky colored as this butter may be, the resulting flavor is far from lake-water. In fact, it’s rich and delicious, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a healthy change to their daily breakfast/snack/margarine-on-toast routine. I hope you enjoy this somewhat wacky concoction as much as I do; and let’s say goodbye to palm-oil-laden store-bought butters forever (or at least until we’re in a pinch and really need some).
3 cups raw shelled pumpkin (pepita) seeds
1 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
3 tbsps chia seeds (or hemp seeds!)
2-4 tbsps flax oil* (add based on desired consistency)
Pinch or two salt (optional; add to taste)
Granulated sugar to taste* (optional; I prefer to omit this, but if you’d like a bit more sweetness simply add it gradually by the tsp)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Measure out flax seeds and grind in a food processor/spice grinder until they resemble a powdery meal. Set aside.
2. Spread the pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and sesame seeds out on a baking tray (if using hemp seeds omit them from this step), and bake for 10-12 minutes, until a faint toasted smell emanates from your oven and the seeds have taken on a slight golden hue (be very watchful, as overbaking them even slightly will dry them out too much!). Allow to cool for ~15 minutes before pouring into your high-powered blender or food processor.
3. Blend the seeds on low-medium speed for 4-6 minutes, frequently pushing down on the seed butter with the tampering device if you’re using a blender; if using a food processor, you will probably have to stop it a few times to scrape down the sides with a spoon. Add 2 tbsps flax oil and continue to blend, adding 1-2 more tbsps to achieve your desired consistency. 5 minutes may feel like eternity, but eventually the fats in the seeds will break down and spin into a creamy, luscious butter. Lastly, add a pinch or two of salt and/or sugar to make things pop a bit more. It’s as simple as that~ and now it’s time to drizzle/spread it on (nearly) everything!!! I especially like this butter with sliced apples, pears, and drizzled (of course) over granola and oatmeal!
* Flax seeds are difficult to absorb in their whole form, plus they have trouble breaking down once added to a blender full of other, particularly creamy/liquid, ingredients, so pre-grinding them a bit will help ensure you absorb the most of their rich, omega-3 profile.
* You could also use coconut/macadamia/walnut/etc. oil, but know that the flavor may vary slightly; I wouldn’t recommend sesame oil because of it’s strong savory flavor.
*Granulated sugars are preferable here because liquid sweeteners have the tendency to make butters seize up and lose their creamy, flowing consistency.