Sunflower Seed and Carrot Pate

by Gena on August 19, 2009


This is my little tribute to sunflower seeds.

You guys know I love cashews. And why wouldn’t I? They’re the most versatile nut: so mild and creamy that they can be used as a base for nearly any dessert, pate, or sauce. They’re the reason why I love my raw alfredo, and they’re the secret ingredient in my raw whipped cream.

Even so, I’ve gotten some feedback from you guys saying that you find nuts a little heavy, especially in the summertime. I love nuts, and consider them a very important source of fat and protein in the raw diet, but I understand this concern: too many nuts can sit like like a brick in one’s belly. And when it’s 95 degrees outside and as humid as a steam room (as the fair isle of Manhattan is right now), this is no fun.

Here’s the good news. Most people find that seeds–including sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds–are a little bit easier to digest than tree nuts. And yet they boast some of the same wonderful health properties: healthy fats and oils, antioxidants, and (depending on the seed in question) magnesium, selenium, and calcium. Best of all, they’re versatile and easy to transport: you can carry them around in a baggie to throw on salads at lunch, to a restaurant if you want to liven up a veggie plate (sesame seeds on sauteed or steamed veggies is a favorite of mine) or simply to snack on.

Or, if you’re in the mood for something lunch or dinner worthy, you can try a seed pate.

A few nights ago, in the midst of trying to cool down my-apartment-the-sauna, I found myself craving a nut pate. But I wanted one that would be a bit lighter than my old stand ins (pizza cheeze and walnut pate). Fortunately, I had sunflower seeds on hand. I knew they’d make for a light, quick digesting pate, and they (unlike almonds or walnuts) can be soaked quickly.

I’m often asked about precise soaking times for nuts. (If you rawcurious readers are asking why, it’s because soaking nuts before you eat them renders them more digestible, not to mention more tender for blending.) The truth is that I’m not particularly diligent about my soaking times. I rarely go through the trouble of germinating or sprouting nuts before I eat them–I just soak them until they’re tender enough to use. I will say, though, that if you’re going to use almonds in a pate or sauce, they’ll benefit from being soaked eight hours or overnight. Cashews are soft enough to only demand a few hours. And in my experience, while it’s ideal to soak sunflower or pumpkin seeds five hours or more, they’ll be totally fine after an hour or two.

On the night in question, I happened to have an hour of free time (imagine that!). So as I soaked a cup of sunflower seeds, I came up with the following recipe: a light, lemony pate that’s perfect for summer months.

Sunflower Seed and Carrot Pate


1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 1 hour or more
1 tsp nama shoyu
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsps lemon juice
2 dates
1/3 cup water
1/2 carrot, grated
Several sprigs of dill


Blend the first five ingredients in a food processor until it begins to form a paste. Drizzle in the water until it reaches a consistency you like. It should resemble a hummus or any other spread. Next, throw in the carrot and dill, and pulse the mixture until everything is well incorporated. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

I’ve blogged before about the variety of uses for nut pates. Like hummus or cream cheese or guac, they’re perfect for stuffing into wraps or sandwiches, for using as a dip, for layering between stacks of veggies (like a Napoleon) or for simply plopping onto salads. Tonight, I made a feeble attempt at culinary creativity with the green pepper I had on hand. I cut it into slices, filled each with about 1-2 tbsps of the pate, and sprinkled it with some zucchini and carrot. Like nachos. Kind of.


OK. Not so much like nachos. But I get points for trying, right?

I served this alongside one of my typical giant salads: a kale/lettuce, carrot, tomato, zucchini, and pepper mix.



It was a perfect summer dinner: light and refreshing, yet not without substance.

And just in case you’re wondering? Sunflower seeds happen to be an incredible source of Vitamin E (the most important fat-soluble antioxidant), thiamin (or Vitamin B1, which is important for the nervous system and carbohydrate metabolism), and phytosterols (which help to lower bad cholesterol). Not so bad for a little seed.

I hope you’ll all try this–or another pate–soon!

And if you need inspiration, I direct you all to my new and refurbished recipe page! I’ve gone too many weeks (OK, months) without updating it, for which I apologize! Now, you should all be able to search for recipes (cause I updated my tags, too–thanks Mel) and to explore the recipe page for ideas.

And next to it, you’ll notice a new “kitchen tools” page. Please, please check it out! Questions about the appliances I use at home and requests for recommendations are among the most prevalent sorts of emails I receive. I hope this is a useful resource.

OK kids, I’m out. Have a wonderful night!


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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline August 19, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Yum! I love the flavor of sunflower seeds, as evidenced by my recent addiction to Sunbutter. Have you ever tried making simply raw sunflower seed butter? I bet that would be delicious as well. Thanks for the pate recipe!


Kelly August 19, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Ah, thanks so much for this. My sister is allergic to all nuts and although I’m interested in raw foods, I never make things that she can’t try! I’d love to see more nut-free raw meals in the future. :)


Emily Eats August 20, 2009 at 12:04 am

Lovely dinner ~
& thank you for the kitchen tools and recipe page updates!
Have a good day,


Nae August 20, 2009 at 12:52 am

Oh my gosh. I miss kale :( You just made me want to visit the nearest Whole Foods. Only Doha doesn’t have spinach, let alone a Whole Foods.

Silly desert climates.


Nicole August 20, 2009 at 4:57 am

I’ve never tried a pate before! It might just be about that time :)


Metta August 20, 2009 at 5:25 am

This looks so good, can’t wait to try it. :)


dragonfly pie August 20, 2009 at 5:30 am

I had a delicious sort of pate (they called it eggless salad) served over greens at Daily Juice, a raw cafe and juice bar here in Austin. It was quite good—and filling! This pate looks really good as well, I bet it would be great in a nori wrap.


Kimberly@Living Free August 20, 2009 at 5:33 am

I can’t eat nuts at all but I can do sunflower seeds:) Thanks for the recipe! Your dinner looks yummy.


VeggieGirl August 20, 2009 at 5:49 am

Sensational sunflower seed spread!! (How’s THAT for alliteration ;-) )

Thank you for the blog page updates!! Great resources.


Shelby August 20, 2009 at 6:03 am

Yummy! I love every recipe you creative Gena, they all sound so wonderful!
I’ve still got to make that alfredo, it’s just calling my name!


Amanda August 20, 2009 at 6:43 am

I can eat nuts any time of year, they are one of my favorite fats!! Your meal looks delicious! Also, the kitchen tools pages is such a great addition! I just got a juicer, and I just checked out your juicing vs. blending post, very interesting! I am on the lookout for great juice combos if you have any suggestions, I am fairly new to juicing!


Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) August 20, 2009 at 7:09 am

I think I have some sunflower seeds in my cupboard!


katherine August 20, 2009 at 7:10 am

You know, I know soaking nuts makes them better for pates and sauces, but why have I always forgotten then when making such things in the past?? Never again, thanks to you, Miss Gena! :)


Raw Food, Real People August 20, 2009 at 7:46 am

Thanks Gena – this went right on my must try recipes list!


amy (veganissexy) August 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

Oh sunbutter is my favorite of all nut butters. I absolutely adore the flavor. I add toasted pumpkin seeds to all of my stir fries and salads for a yummy crunch. I agree that they sit lighter in my tummy, but never really understood why. Glad to see I’m not the only one! Take care :)


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) August 20, 2009 at 9:15 am

Silly Gena with her “nachos.” Please, I’m much more likely to try this if we call it perfect sunflower seed pate! Or better-and-cheaper-than-Bonobos pate. Both titles would catch my eye. ;)


Laura August 20, 2009 at 9:57 am

Thanks Gena! That’s funny- I was just trying your recipe page yesterday and hoping you would update it! I’m helping host a cocktail party tonight and planning to contribute the zucchini-tomato-nut cheese rounds from your cocktail party- I’m also planning to make some with goat cheese instead of nut cheese. Excited to share the raw!


Evita August 20, 2009 at 10:39 am

Gena these look so yummy and wonderful! Thanks for the recipe ideas!

As for nuts I love them too! And I don’t find they sit heavy with me, but I know I have to get more in a habit of soaking them before eating the raw nuts to increase digestibility.

P.S. As an aside I read your about page and I have to say, you are one of the most inspirational people out there when it comes to healthy eating. There are not a lot of people out there like you, but every time I come across one I think, yes!!!! There is hope and there are people who really care about themselves and their health from a reasonable, common sense, and truly healthy approach. I know I kind of said that the other day on the guest post you wrote, but I had to tell you again – way to go!!!!


erica August 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I absolutely love pates, and this one sounds so refreshing and delicious! Definitely on my “to make” list. ;)


Ada August 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Yum, that pate looks delish! Perfect for summer entertaining:)


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) August 20, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for posting this one…I have seen and made nut pates with almonds and cashews and something about my tummy and too many nut pates…it just doesn’t work for me. So the seed pate gives me hope that it’ll be lighter in my belly. Yay! And those little matchstick carrots and zucch on top…cute. I wish my knife skills were that patient or my new Oxo julienne’ing tool actually would work for me, but no such luck.


Hayley August 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm

It always amazes me how presentable your food always looks. I’d never think to put a nut pate into a sliced bell pepper, but it looks so pretty (not to mention delicious). I love all these ideas! I’m off to check out your blog post on “Crazy Sexy Life.” :)


melissa August 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm

way to update. i know keeping up with tags, pages and updates is exhausting. you need a blogintern. lol create recipe, i love how you lighten up the pate with carrots!


Michal August 21, 2009 at 6:12 am

this is perfect timing – with school starting on monday i was looking for some new ideas to spice up my lunch boxes and this i can tell is going to become a new favorite for me :) wonderful as always gena!


Julia August 21, 2009 at 6:20 am

Can’t wait to try this recipe. I recently tried the coconut chai for the first time at Bonobos, thanks to you, and WOW….it’s a milkshake!


The voracious Vegan August 23, 2009 at 11:29 am

I’m going to make the sunflower seed pate tomorrow for lunch and I can’t wait to taste it. Thank you so much for the great recipe!


ttfn300 August 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

while i love seeds, never thought about making the switch from nuts! sounds like a great summer meal :)


Veganachos September 26, 2009 at 10:58 pm

OMG that looks delicious – I love raw capsicum & sunflower seeds… I’ll definitely be trying that this week!!


Liz February 10, 2010 at 9:57 am

I’ve made this several times and it’s delicious!


Elizabeth November 14, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Thanks for this recipe! I made this for lunch ( I subbed dill w parsley, and dates w raisins), and put it in a nori wrap. It was filling, yet light! I felt energized and light afterwards, which was new for me-since I usually get the post-lunch slump!


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