You have likely heard about the struggle between states and the federal government regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp. But, did you know that hemp barely has any resemblance to the marijuana plant for which it is associated? They both come from the same species of cannabis plant, but the hemp variety has absolutely no psychoactive properties.
Hemp does however, have a great deal of value as a sustainable crop offering seeds, oil, fiber, and so much more. Hemp can be used to make textiles, clothing, paper, many building materials and even food. What industrial hemp can be used for is incredible in its scope and mind-blowing due to the fact that currently (according to federal law) it is illegal to grow it in the United States.
Therefore, all the goodness associated with this crop must be purchased from overseas. It’s sad because it only has a 12 to 14 week growing cycle, and only one acre of hemp could replace 4.1 acres of trees for fiber pulp used in making paper. Thankfully, you can still use hemp and benefit from its wonderful healthful properties in your own life by purchasing hemp products as they become available.
History of hemp
Hemp can be used to make food, fuel and fiber. It grows easily, super fast, and is considered a highly sustainable crop. It is, in fact, one of the oldest crops known to man with records indicating that cultivation of hemp is more than 10,000 years old. Coming a little closer to our own lifetimes, hemp was once legal tender in the USA to use for paying taxes. Hemp cultivation was crucial during World War II with hemp farmers being exempt from military service.
Hemp can be used for many different things throughout history:
Food Products – Bio Fuel Products – Beauty Products – Homes – Textiles – Paper – Rope – Furniture – Flooring – Tables – Cups – Car Fuel
Paint – Books – Bottles – Towels – Toilet Paper – Concrete – Jewelry
and much more…
Currently, it is illegal to grow hemp in the U.S. because during the Hoover administration certain people believed hemp was a danger to their private enterprises. So they did what people often do; they spent a lot of money on an educational campaign and lobbying efforts to outlaw hemp cultivation in the U.S. by linking it to the high THC marijuana variety of cannabis, and noting that marijuana growers could hide their crops among industrial hemp since the plants resemble one another quite a bit.
Unfortunately, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t permit the growth of industrial hemp, although some states are starting to legalize it anyway. Time will tell whether or not hemp will eventually be grown legally in the U.S., as it currently is in the rest of the industrialized world. Regardless of legality and politics, no one can deny the benefits of hemp and the products that come from hemp. Hemp is a safe and sustainable product full of benefits for humans, nature and society.
Benefits of Hemp as Food
In spite of the dicey history of the plant, there are many environmental benefits associated with the ease and speed in which it grows. It could replace many textiles, paper products, building materials and fuels that are currently bad for the environment. There are many different products you can derive from industrial hemp, and food is among one of the most exciting, due to the many health benefits being discovered.
- High in Plant Based Protein – The slow moving protein provided by hemp helps keep blood sugar under control and aids in keeping you more satisfied after a meal.
- High in Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids – Due to the pollution in our oceans, finding a plant based source of important Omega fatty acids is essential. These fatty acids reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, maintain bone health and regulate metabolism.
- Contains Essential Amino Acids – The building blocks of all your muscles, cells, tissues and organs need to have enough essential amino acids available to help ward off age-related mental diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Known to be one of the most, if not the most, nutritional and beneficial seeds on the planet, hemp is a good source of protein, amino acids, omega fatty acids, as well as magnesium, potassium and fiber. It also has many of the vitamins that your body needs to function and stay healthy.
Types of Hemp That You Can Eat
Hemp comes in a variety of forms, the most popular being the seed. You can also buy a variety of other types of packaged hemp products that are good for you, all natural, and ready for your table.
- Hemp Seeds – Hemp seeds are very high in super-digestible proteins, and are one of the few plant-based foods that contain all 20 of the essential amino acids. Hemp seeds are rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the perfect ratios. They’re also high in fiber and vitamin E, have many trace minerals and many of the vitamins that you need to be healthy. Hemp seeds are great sprinkled on cereal, in yogurt, and on top of salads.
- Hemp Protein Powder – Made from grinding the hemp seeds, hemp protein can now be found in practically every health food store and it’s often sought out by anyone who wants to build muscle but doesn’t want to use whey protein. The best hemp protein powder to choose is organic; it’ll have the best flavor as well as avoid contaminating your smoothies with chemicals. Just one ounce of hemp protein powder gives you 14 grams of complete protein.
- Hemp Flour – This flour is made after creating hemp oil, then grinding the leftover hemp into flour. You cannot use hemp flour on its own for baking, but it can be added in small quantities to other flours to increase the protein and fiber content of your baked goods. Try to keep the ratio to one part hemp flour to four parts other flour to keep your breads and pastries from becoming too dense.
- Hemp Oil – Created by extracting the oil from the hemp seed, hemp oil is a very useful oil for cooking. It has a nice nutty flavor and is great in salad dressings. It has a really low smoke point (so it’s not good for frying), but you can use it in smoothies, in cold salad dressings and even ice cream preparations. It’s also great, of course, for your skin.
- Hemp Milk – Easy to make, and delicious to drink, this milk is full of nutrients that cow’s milk cannot beat. You can make your own by blending three parts filtered water to 1 part raw, unsalted, hulled hemp seeds in a high speed blender. You can filter with a nut milk bag or you can use straight away in recipes. It’s high in protein, rich in omega 3’s and has lots of vitamins. Today you can buy vitamin D fortified hemp milk in a variety of flavors.
As you see, hemp comes in a variety of forms which you can use to replace other forms of protein, flour, oil, and milk in your daily life. It’s especially great if you want to follow current American Cancer Society guidelines and limit your intake of animal products to maintain good health. You can find out more information about hemp and the benefits of hemp at hemp.org.
Experiment with your favorite recipes to substitute the oil, milk and flour with hemp based varieties. Toss in some hemp seed hearts or hemp protein powder to give your recipes a boost of flavor, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Here are a few recipes to get you started.
Recipes with Hemp
Spring brings more than just rain showers and flowers. It brings an abundance of fresh vegetables including new shoots of succulent, tender and delicious asparagus. Asparagus is a great source of, vitamins A, C, E and K as well as antioxidants for neutralizing free radicals. This recipe can be enjoyed hot or cold.
1 Sweet Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Leeks, chopped
8 oz. Asparagus, roasted
1 tsp. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1/2 C. Hemp Seeds, hulled
4 C. Vegetable Broth
1/2 C. Almond Milk
4 oz. Asparagus, roasted
1/8 C. Hemp Seeds, hulled
Using a large frying pan, heat hemp seed oil, cook the onion, leeks, and asparagus in the oil for about 10 minutes until the onions are clear. Sprinkle with the sea salt, cook about five minutes longer. Meanwhile blend the hulled hemp seeds with the some of the broth in a high speed blender. Combine the asparagus mixture with the hemp seed broth mixture into a large soup pot, cover with the rest of the broth. Cook until bubbly and the asparagus is really soft. Remove and blend in a high speed blender until smooth. Put back in pot and stir in the almond milk just until heated through. When serving, top each bowl with a little roasted asparagus, and hemp seeds. Enjoy.
Banana Hemp Green Smoothie
Nothing is better than a nice energizing smoothie for breakfast. But you can also have them for lunch, or as a dessert. No rules, because this one is good for you. The addition of hemp seeds, gives you an extra protein boost since the 3 TBS of Hemp seeds have 9 grams of protein, not to mention healthy fats to keep you satiated.
2 Bananas, chopped
4 Dates, soaked
1 Apricot, chopped
1 C. Baby Spinach
3 TBS Hemp Seeds, hulled
1/2 C. Almond Milk
1/2 C. Crushed Ice
Soak your dates in water, then drain, or soak them in the liquid you want to add to the smoothie for about 30 minutes before blending for best results. Put milk, ice, then all ingredients in high speed blender. Blend until smooth. If your bananas are frozen, you can skip the ice. Enjoy.
Chocolate Hemp Butter Banana Marshmallow Muffins
These easy muffins are a wonderful way to start any day. They contain hemp seeds which are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E. They contain fiber, calcium and iron as well as the essential fatty acids omega 6 and omega 3.
1 C. All Purpose Flour
1/2 C. Hemp Seed Protein Powder
1/4 C. Coconut Sugar
1/3 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 TBS Coconut, shredded
2 Bananas, large
1/4 C. Maple Syrup
1/4 C. Chocolate Hemp Seed Butter (recipe included)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
12 Vegan Marshmallows, chopped
Pam Cooking Spray
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray muffin pan or line with liners.
In a mixing bowl mix all dry ingredients until mixed, except marshmallows. In a food processor mix all wet ingredients including the banana until well mixed and the banana is liquefied. Fold the wet ingredients carefully into the dry ingredients. Do not mix; just get the dry ingredients wet. Gently fold in the marshmallows.
Pour into muffin pan. Cook for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the pan, and then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Note: If you did not use muffin liners, you should remove from pan immediately to avoid sticking.
Chocolate Hemp Seed Butter
8 to 10 Servings
Sometimes eating a lone apple for a snack, or a banana just doesn’t seem like enough does it? Why not add some of this delicious spread to make it a more filling snack with a protein punch without too much sugar and no unnatural ingredients.
2 C. Hemp Seeds Hearts
3 TBS Cocoa Powder
1 TBS Hemp Oil
4 Dates, soaked
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Dash Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Hemp Seed Milk
Blend all ingredients together in a magic bullet or other high speed small blender until smooth and creamy; scraping the sides between each 1 minute cycle. If you need to add liquid you can add some hemp seed milk a little at a time. It depends on how fresh your hemp seed hearts are. Spread on toast, apples, crackers, bananas or use in smoothies.
Note: To make your own hemp seed milk simply blend 3 parts filtered water with 1 part hemp seed hearts on high speed. If you’re not using it in a recipe you can strain it with a , but if you’re using it straight away for a recipe there is no need.
Chocolate Hemp Ice-cream
Hemp ice cream is non-dairy, soy-free, and gluten-free. Made with agave nectar, it’s naturally sweet and contains fewer calories and carbs than ice cream made with dairy products and white sugar. Hemp is high in protein and rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Top with fresh fruit or nuts for a complete after-dinner treat.
1/2 C. Hemp Protein Powder
1/3 C. Agave Nectar
3 TBS Dark Chocolate Cocoa
1 1/2 Cans Coconut Milk (full fat)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Blend everything together in a blender or magic bullet. Pour into your ice-cream machine bowl and follow manufacturer’s directions. You may use honey instead of agave nectar. For variation, following the ice cream maker directions add nuts, chocolate chips, or fruit to the mixture for a delightful treat.
Hemp Flour Tortillas
Flour tortillas are really good to serve with many types of dishes from sweet to savory. Fry some in oil, cover with honey, and you have dessert. Heat some in the microwave and fill with pinto beans and you have a burrito. They’re versatile but normally without any nutritionally redeeming qualities. By adding hemp seed flour to your recipe you can make them high in protein making them more filling and nutritious at the same time.
1 C. Hemp Seed Flour
2 C. Bleached Flour
2 TBS Baking Powder
1 TBS Sea Salt
4 to 5 TBLS Coconut Oil (or if you prefer, Crisco)
1 1/4 Cup Ice Water
Mix dry ingredients together with a whisk until well blended. Using your whisk or a pastry blender cut in the solid coconut oil, one TBS at a time until you have a nice crumbly texture. Add in ice water slowly stirring with a spoon until mixture forms a ball. The dough should not be sticky. You may not have to use all the water, but if you’re having a dry day you may need a little more. Once dough has formed a ball, need on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide into 16 balls. To do so evenly, just cut in half, then cut each half in half and repeat until you have 16 parts, roll into balls and let rest for about 30 minutes.
Roll out each ball on a floured surface using a rolling pin. Keep tortillas apart using parchment paper. Put into fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking to help firm up if needed.
Spray a skillet with cooking oil, get skillet nice and hot, then cook each side until set then flip, and cook each side until they are the doneness you like. Try not to use too much oil in the pan. If you have a nonstick pan you can cook these without any oil.
Hemp Chickpea Hummus
Hummus is made from cooked, mashed chickpeas. It is high in fiber and therefore helps control your hunger and chickpeas can also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Chickpeas are so versatile they can be used in many dishes. This particular recipe is great on celery, carrot sticks, crackers, and used as a dressing for salad.
1 Can Chickpeas, drained (reserving liquid)
4 TBS Hemp Seed Hearts
1 TBS Hemp Seed Oil
2 TBS Tahini
1/3 C Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
Throw everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. If needed, add some of the drained liquid in to create the consistency you like for your hummus.
Hemp Oil Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
The bold flavor of vinaigrette salad dressing is great for more than a standard green salad. Drizzle it over steamed veggies, a citrus salad and even salads with meat such as a chicken or seafood salad.
3 TBS Hemp Seed Oil
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1TBS Spicy Brown Mustard
3 Cloves Garlic, roasted
1/2 tsp. Fresh Basil, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Fresh Oregano, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Fresh Tarragon, finely chopped
Sea Salt to Taste
Put all ingredients except the fresh herbs into a magic blender or other small high speed blender. Blend until smooth and oil is emulsified. Add in herbs, and blend one more quick pulse. Taste, add in a pinch of salt if needed, blend quickly and serve.
Home Made Hemp Cereal
Everyone likes eating cereal in the morning. It’s fast, easy, and it also makes a good snack or topping for ice-cream, yogurt and other delightful treats. The problem is, you never know what’s in it. If you make your own, you always know. For the ingredients below use unsweetened or lightly sweetened versions and no added salt and raw nuts and seeds.
2 Cups Each:
- Rolled Oats
- Quinoa Flakes
1 Cup Each:
- Slivered Almonds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Walnuts, Chopped
1/2 Cup Each:
- Hemp Seed Hearts
- Coconut Flakes
- Sunflower Seeds
- Dried Cherries, chopped
- Dried Apricots, chopped
1 Tbs. Ground Cinnamon
1 Dash Nutmeg
Variations: Try pumpkin pie spice
In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients together mixing until well combined. Store in an airtight container or jars at room temperature.
Peppery Hemp Seed Pesto
Arugula has a wonderful peppery flavor that really makes this hemp seed pesto delicious. The roasted garlic adds a delicious savory touch. The hemp seed gives you all the protein that you need for a main dish meal.
3 C. Arugula
1 C. Fresh Basil
4 Cloves Roasted Garlic
1/2 C. Hemp Seeds, hulled
1/4 C. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/4 tsp. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/3 C. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Almonds, soaked
Put nuts, seeds, salt & yeast flakes into food processor and pulse a few times. Then add arugula, basil and garlic, pulse a few times. Then add everything else to the food processor and pulse until mixed to desired consistency. If it’s too thick you can use some of the water you used to cook the pasta to thin or add some warm water or warm broth.
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Mix the pesto into the pasta and serve immediately. A great way to mix it is to put the pasta in a large bowl, put the pesto on top, then toss with two large forks until mixed.
Using organic hemp products is a great way to support sustainable farming, increase your health, and support the environment. You can try some of the recipes above, or just alter your own by tossing in a tablespoon of hemp seeds or hemp protein powder to foods that you already enjoy. Not only will you boost the nutritional component of the things that you eat, it will taste great too. Now that you know the benefits, what are some ways that you plan to use hemp in your diet?