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Healthy Spinach Balls with Sunflower Seeds and Manchego Cheese

Spinach balls get a healthy makeover with a paleo flour made out of sunflower seeds and a smidge of manchego cheese. These are a great gluten-free appetizer recipe, or you can serve them as a vegetarian main course in place of falafel.If you don't have time to make the turmeric honey yogurt, plain yogurt or tzatziki also works well!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • One 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 small onion (about 1 cup), finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or aged Manchego cheese (see note)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

for the sauce:

  • 4 ounces plain full fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small food processor or blender, pulse the sunflower seeds until ground into a fine flour. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the thawed spinach in a clean dish towel and squeeze the water out—the result should be a compact mound of spinach the size of a baseball. Add to the mixing bowl containing the sunflower seeds, along with the onions, basil, garlic, Parmesan or Manchego, eggs, butter or ghee, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix until full combined.
  4. Using a melon-baller or tablespoon, portion the spinach batter into 1 1/2 inch balls and arrange them on the lined baking sheet. You should have about 20 to 24 total. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce: combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. taste for seasoning and set aside.
  6. Bake the spinach balls in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a light brown crust has formed on the bottom. Remove the tray and turn the balls to rest on another side. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until crispy all around and browned on the second side.
  7. Serve the balls warm or room temperature, alongside the turmeric yogurt for dipping.

Recipe Notes

An easy way to grate the parmesan or manchego is to simply pulse it in your food processor into crumbs after you’ve created the sunflower seed flour. You can also substitute almond flour for the sunflower seed flour (1 1/4 cup total) or use any other type of nut. This recipe would also taste great with Feta. If you like spice, 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes would give it some kick.