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I don’t receive negative email very often, but last week I received a doozy. A mom who is new to weelicious and has a child with severe nut allergies said she was disappointed with weelicious’ over reliance on nut butters in school lunch. I don’t feel that I’ve ever aggressively promoted nut butters (in fact I go to great lengths to try and offer substitution ideas and even dedicated a section of the website to nut, dairy, and egg-free recipes), but because they’re inexpensive, have a long shelf life, are a great source of protein, and loved by most kids, they can be a life saver for parents.

Coincidentally, the very same day I received the email from the concerned mother, I was informed that there was a child in one of my children’s classes with a severe peanut allergy. In light of these two events I wanted to understand more about the subject of nut allergies. The first thing I learned was the difference between airborne and non-airborne nut allergies. Children with an airborne nut allergy can get extremely sick from just being in the proximity of a peanut. Children with non-airborne nut allergies are generally OK to sit next to a child with nuts in their lunch, but could have an averse reaction if they ingest them. Non-airborne allergies get even trickier since nut butters can easily smear on a table or spread to common classroom objects via sticky fingers and if a child with a nut allergy accidentally ingests nuts by touching something contaminated and putting their fingers in their mouth, they could become ill or worse. What you realize very quickly, is that whether airborne or not, the risk of a child getting sick is almost equal.

The good news for parents of children with nut allergies (as well as parents of non-allergic children in nut-free schools) is that many seeds — sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, and flax among them — are fantastic, high in protein substitutions for nut-free classrooms and can be used in most recipes calling for nut butters. I’ve used sunflower butter for years in recipes like World’s Greatest PB&J, PB&J yogurt and Banana Dog Bites.

These Sunflower Butter Bran Muffins are packed with tons of fiber and are protein-rich to keep kids sated during the day. And since sunflower butter tastes very similar to peanut butter, most kids won’t be able to tell the difference. That’s good news for everyone in the classroom!


Sunflower Butter Bran Muffins

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Servings: 12 muffins
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes



  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a bowl, combine the bran flakes and milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in the egg, oil and sunflower butter.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips, if desired.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 340mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g
Did you make this recipe?Mention @Weelicious or tag #weelicious!

About the Author

Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.


  1. Made them this morning and they were delish!! Relatively easy to make and I had all items in my pantry or fridge. My 3 year old loved them. Just one question – do you happen to have the nutrition information per muffin? Thanks so much!

  2. I made these yummy muffins with almond meal flour and made them mini muffins, but they fell apart. 🙁 Any suggestions how to make them not fall apart?

  3. Best way to store these? Can they be stored in the freezer? If yes for how long? Thanks for sharing great food!!!

  4. I made a double batch of these tonight – the whole family loved them! I made some with and without chocolate chips, and they were both enjoyed. Thanks!

  5. C, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed to bring something to my Son’s school for his bday celebration. It’s a nut-free school. I made a triple batch tonight and am bringing them tomorrow. They are fantastic! Thank you!!

  6. I just wanted to comment to let others know my succes with subbing bob’s red mill oat bran cereal. I found the recipe and they sounded so yummy but I needed them to be wheat free as well. I used one cup of the oat bran and did every thing else the same. They turned out fantastic!!

  7. I made using sunflower seed instead of sunbutter and just blended the sunflower seeds with all the oil the recipe calls for – came out great – just had to add a bit more milk though to the batter.

  8. These are a big hit with my girls (and us parents too.) I’ve been making batch after batch using Wowbutter, mostly because it’s easier to get at the grocery store. Love them!

  9. LOVE your site! A friend of mine whose child has a severe peanut allergy recommended it to me just the other day. I just wanted to point out that peanuts are actually legumes and not nuts. 🙂 As for the mom who sent the doozy email, I’m sure it was from frustration and fear, as I would feel the same way. But, at the same time, she should understand that not everyone is aware of the severity of nut/peanut allergies or that there are even alternatives, like Sunflower seed butter. Thanks again for the great site and I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying your book!

  10. Is there an adequate substitute for bran cereal? I don’t typically buy it and really want to try these muffins without a special trip to the store. Would leftover cooked oatmeal work??

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