You Heart What You Eat: Lemon-Lime Basil Sunflower Shortbread Cookies |

You Heart What You Eat: Lemon-Lime Basil Sunflower Shortbread Cookies

Tera Johnson-Swartz
This week Explore's food contributor Tera Johnson Swartz shares her favorite shortbread cookie recipe full of nutrients.
Courtesy Photo

— If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I would bake with herbs or micro greens, I would have sent you to the nearest mental health professional to see if your sanity was intact. Now, I’d beg for the recipe, likely before I even sampled the dish. For this recipe in my four-part Macro Micro Green series, just know I am not a complete nut — at least not according to my sometimes brutally honest husband, who doesn’t usually share in my love for lemon-flavored desserts.

With my overwhelming supply of basil opal and some extra sunflower micro greens in the fridge, I couldn’t bear to let them go to waste, and for some reason — possibly the craving for a lemon cookie — it hit me: “Why not make a lemon basil sunflower cookie?”

The lime came in while I looked in my fridge and saw I had a little left, so I threw it in as an extra, and the flavors just popped in my mouth. Even the batter was delicious.

Now, before you start to fret about the sunflower micro greens, they have a subtle nutty flavor, but otherwise, the coloring and ultimate flavor doesn’t compromise or overwhelm the lemon-lime-basil combination. So if you don’t have any, it’s not a recipe breaker, but if you have the opportunity, give it a try.

Again, you’ll find I don’t use sugar much, so in its place, I used honey. While traditional shortbread cookies call for powdered sugar, I just add a bit of cornstarch to help the binding. The almond meal is another favorite of mine in the baking world, because it adds moisture to keep the cookie from drying out, and the health benefits from the proteins are well worth the investment.

Before you ask or panic — no, the cookies will not turn or even look green. They’re not bleached-white, but rather an off-white shade. Still, even if they were green, I’d proudly eat them, because they’re just that delicious. Oh, and if you’re wondering where to get some of these micro-isms I’m referring to, check out Innovative Ag Colorado at; they’re based right here in Steamboat Springs, so go ahead, and support a local farmers.

Lemon-Lime Basil Sunflower Shortbread Cookies

  • 3/4 cup flour

  • 1/4 cup almond meal

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter
  • 1/4 cup Basil Opal micro-greens
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower micro-greens
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 tbs. lime juice

In your food processor, blend the butter and both micro greens, flour and almond meal until just combined and form a sandy-like mixture.

Add the cornstarch, honey, salt and again, pulse until just blended. Make sure to scrape the sides and then, while leaving your processor on, in the top open cylinder, slowly pour the lemon and lime juices until the mixture forms a ball (if it’s too soft, you can always throw it in the freezer for a couple minutes).

Using a tablespoon, make individual balls (if you’re as particular as me, roll them between the palms of your hands) and place on a cookie sheet, slightly pressing down (or if you prefer, sprinkle a bit of sugar on top for a crunchier topping).

Bake at 365 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until slightly brown around the edges. Cool, then remove from pan and enjoy.

You Heart What You Eat is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you’ll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you’d like included in one of our future blogs should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working on her many side gigs, be it freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children. She couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.

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