Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!

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Here are 4 nutritious and delicious reasons to be high on hemp.

Hemp is one of the fastest growing food sectors in the United States—and no wonder. This plant product is a nutritional heavyweight food that delivers a knockout punch of protein, healthy fats and necessary minerals. Ultra-versatile in the kitchen, allergy-friendly hemp can be used in a wide range of dishes. Those in the know also value hemp for its environmental sustainability.

Although the word “hemp” may bring to mind peace, love and Grateful Dead concerts, the variety of hemp grown for food consumption in North America contains irrelevant amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in its bad-boy cousin, marijuana. With a burgeoning number of hemp foods available in stores, it’s easier than ever to get your hemp on.

1. Hemp Seeds 

Also called hemp hearts, these soft shelled seeds taste like the love child of sunflower seeds and pine nuts. Packed with essential omega fatty acids, magnesium and roughly twice the amount of protein as chia or flax seeds, these tasty little gems are worthy of a nutritional high-five.

Use It Generously sprinkle hemp seeds on steamed and roasted vegetables, soups, fruit salads, cereal, stir-fries and ice cream. Also use them in smoothies, salad dressings, homemade granola and breading for chicken.

2. Hemp Milk 

This beverage is made by blending hemp seeds with water to produce a drink with a distinctive earthy-nutty flavor. Hemp milk contains more protein than rice or coconut milk beverages and has higher natural levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fat. To sidestep some sugary calories, opt for unsweetened versions.

Use It Try hemp milk in smoothies, chai teas, baked goods, pancake batters and pureed creamy soups. It’s also wonderful poured over gluten-free cereal and granola.

3. Hemp Oil 

Greener than environmentalist Bill McKibben, this earthy-tasting oil is valued for its laudable amount of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat. Some studies suggest that higher intakes of this fat can help slash the risk for certain maladies, such as diabetes and heart disease. This oil is also a rare food source of gamma linolenic acid, a fat that appears to have anti-inflammatory prowess. To preserve freshness, hemp oil should be stored in the refrigerator once opened.

Use it Too delicate to be heated, keep hemp oil out of the skillet. Save it for dips, pesto and salad dressings.

4. Hemp Protein Powder 

This up-and-coming hypo-allergenic product is made by milling hemp seeds into a fine powder. A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that the protein value of hemp is greater than that found in a number of grains, nuts and legumes. This makes hemp protein powder a valuable, easy-to-digest protein source for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Depending on the brand, powders have varying amounts of dietary fiber and omega fats.

Those with a higher protein-to-fiber ratio are less gritty.

Use It Replace several tablespoons of the flour called for in baked goods recipes with hemp protein powder. Whirl it into smoothies. Stir some into hot cereals for a protein boost.


 Soup photo

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Asparagus Hemp Soup

SERVES 6

This soup provides a welcome taste of spring with hemp milk adding a touch of nutty creaminess. As with many pureed soups, this one only gets better after lingering in the fridge for a day or two.

2 teaspoons grape seed oil or canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ teaspoon salt
1 large Russet potato, diced
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder, optional
4 cups low-sodium gluten-free vegetable broth
½ pound spinach (about 1 bunch)
¼ cup packed fresh dill, chopped
-Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup unflavored hemp milk

Nori-Hemp Garnish

3 sheets nori, finely chopped
¼ cup hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add potato and asparagus and cook 3 minutes. Add pepper and cayenne, if using, and cook 30 seconds more. Add broth to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

3. Stir in spinach and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in dill and lemon juice.

4. Puree soup, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Return to pot and slowly stir in hemp milk and heat through.

5. To make the garnish, stir together nori, hemp seeds, sesame oil and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Heat a skillet over medium heat and toast the nori mixture, stirring regularly, for 3 minutes or until fragrant and hemp seeds are lightly toasted.

6. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with Nori-Hemp Garnish.

Each serving contains 183 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 446mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g sugars, 8g protein, 9Est GL.

Chocolate Hemp Butter

SERVES 8

This decadent-tasting topping is nutritionally dense. Spread it on apple slices, gluten-free crackers or breakfast toast. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

1 cup hemp seeds
2 tablespoons hemp oil or melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons pure cocoa powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Place all ingredients in a container of a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend on high until mixture becomes creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the machine. Scrape down the inside of the container a couple of times when blending. If mixture is too thick, add a little more oil to smooth it out.

Each serving (1 tablespoon) contains 83 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 4g protein, 1Est GL.

Photograph by Matthew Kadey

Mediterranean Chicken Flatbread Pizzas

SERVES 4 TO 5

These individual pizzas have a Mediterranean vibe. Hemp oil and hemp seeds are wonderful replacements for olive oil and pine nuts in the pesto. Nutritional yeast provides a dairy-free cheesy flavor in lieu of Parmesan. Omit the chicken for a vegetarian meal. The flatbread batter can be made a day or two ahead; bring it back to room temperature before using. It can also be made with egg replacement.

Flatbread

1 large egg
1 cup brown rice flour
¾ cup quinoa flour
¼ teaspoon salt

Hemp Pesto

2 cups fresh arugula
1 cup fresh basil
¼ cup hemp seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
-Juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup hemp oil

Toppings

1 pound sliced cooked chicken
½ cup sliced marinated artichoke hearts
½ cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
⅓ cup chopped Kalamata olives

1. In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Stir in brown rice flour, quinoa flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Slowly pour in 1⅓ cups water and mix gently. Mixture should be similar in consistency to pancake batter. If batter seems too thick, stir in additional water 1 tablespoon at a time. (Don’t let batter get overly runny.) Let batter sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. To make pesto, place arugula, basil, hemp seeds, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse until coarsely minced. With machine running, pour in hemp oil through the feed tube and process until combined.

3. Heat an 8-inch cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour ½ cup flatbread batter into the skillet and cook until golden brown on the underside, 2 to 3 minutes. Batter should be about ½-inch thick. If necessary, gently spread batter out with a spatula after pouring it into the pan. Flip flatbread and cook 2 minutes more or until golden on second side. Repeat with remaining batter to make 5 flatbreads.

4. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

5. Place flatbreads on a baking sheet and spread with Hemp Pesto. Top each with equal amounts of chicken, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.

6. Place in preheated oven and bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Each serving contains 583 calories, 29g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 122mg cholesterol, 644mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g sugars, 34g protein, 23Est GL.

For Egg-Free Flatbread, omit 1 egg. Add ½ teaspoon baking powder to dry ingredients in Step 1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon golden flax meal or ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons warm water. Mix well and let cool. Add this mixture in Step 1 to replace 1 egg.


Photograph by Matthew Kadey

Fig Hemp Balls

MAKES 16 BALLS

These chewy balls of energy are great for an afternoon pick-me-up. If desired, swap out the figs for dates and use homemade hemp butter in lieu of sunflower butter. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

1½ cups dried Mission figs, stems removed
¼ cup hemp protein powder
¼ cup raw or natural cocoa powder
¼ cup sunflower seed butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
-Zest of 1 medium orange
-Juice from ½ medium orange
-Pinch of salt
⅓ cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut

1. Place figs in a bowl. Cover with warm water and let soak 1 hour.

2. Drain figs and place them in a food processor container along with hemp protein, cocoa powder, sunflower seed butter, cinnamon, orange zest, orange juice and a pinch of salt. Blend until mixture forms a sticky ball.

3. By the tablespoonful, roll the mixture into 16 circular balls using slightly damp hands. (Clean your hands, as needed, if they become too sticky for proper rolling.)

4. Spread coconut on a flat work surface and roll balls in coconut until evenly covered.

Each serving contains 83 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 8mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 7g sugars, 3g protein, 5Est GL.

Spinach Steak Salad with Hemp Chimichurri

SERVES 4

Chimichurri is a lively Argentine herb sauce, the perfect sidekick to grilled steak. This version is infused with hemp for a winning topping.

Hemp Chimichurri Sauce

1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt, more for seasoning steak
¼ teaspoon black pepper, more for seasoning steak
⅓ cup hemp oil

Salad

2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons grape seed oil or canola oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ pounds flank or sirloin steak
6 cups tender salad greens, such as baby spinach and arugula
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cucumber, chopped
⅓ cup dried cherries, optional

1. To make the sauce, stir together parsley, oregano, shallot, garlic, hemp seeds, vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper in a bowl. Stir in hemp oil.

2. Preheat oven to 400˚F.

3. In a large bowl, toss together tomatoes, 1 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven until softened and beginning to shrivel, about 12 minutes.

4. Season steak with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil in a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steak, turning once halfway through, about 8 to 10 minutes total for medium rare. Let steak rest 10 minutes and then cut thinly across the grain.

5. Toss salad greens with radishes and cucumber. Divide salad among 4 plates and top with tomatoes, steak slices and dried cherries, if using. Drizzle salads with Hemp Chimichurri Sauce.

Each serving contains 542 calories 37g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 57mg cholesterol, 428mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g sugars, 41g protein, 4Est GL.

 

Photograph by Matthew Kadey

Ice Cream with Super-Seed Sprinkle

SERVES 6

This nutritious topping is delicious and crunchy, the perfect foil for creamy ice cream.

¼ cup unsalted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
¼ cup unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
-Pinch of salt
3 cups vanilla hemp ice cream or coconut ice cream
2 cups berries of choice

1. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Heat 4 minutes or until seeds are lightly golden, shaking the pan often. Add sesame seeds and heat until they’re toasted, about 1 minute, stirring seeds often. Stir in hemp seeds, maple syrup and a pinch of salt and heat 1 minute more. Transfer seed mixture to a parchment- or silicon-lined baking sheet to cool.

2. Place ice cream in serving bowls and top with seed mixture and berries.

Each serving contains 291 calories, 17g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 78mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 17g sugars, 5g protein, 11Est GL.

Multigrain Carrot Cake Porridge

SERVES 4

Soaking whole grains overnight softens them and reduces morning preparation time. Carrots, warming spices and maple syrup make each bite reminiscent of carrot cake. Try topping each bowl with a sprinkling of fresh berries.

½ cup gluten-free steel-cut oats
⅓ cup quinoa
⅓ cup millet
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup plain or vanilla hemp milk
1 large carrot, finely shredded
⅓ cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup dried coconut flakes

1. In a medium saucepan, bring oats, quinoa, millet, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and 3 cups water to a boil. Immediately turn off heat, cover and let sit overnight.

2. In the morning, stir in hemp milk, shredded carrot, raisins and maple syrup. Heat over medium-low heat until warmed through.

3. Top cereal with hemp seeds and coconut. Serve warm with additional maple syrup, if desired.

Each serving contains 365 calories, 10g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 75mg sodium, 59g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 15g sugars, 12g protein, 33Est GL.

 

Photograph by Matthew Kadey

Strawberry-Rhubarb Hemp Smoothie

SERVES 2

Think of this smoothie as a strawberry rhubarb crisp in a glass. It makes a nutritious breakfast and afternoon thirst-quencher. Whirling hemp protein into the mix slows down digestion, making the smoothie more satiating.

1 cup plain or vanilla hemp milk
1 cup ice
1½ cups strawberries, hulled
⅔ cup sliced rhubarb
⅓ cup gluten-free rolled oats or quinoa flakes
¼ cup plain or vanilla hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
-Juice of ½ lemon
-Pinch of salt

1. Place all ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth.

Each serving contains 333 calories, 11g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 106mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 15g sugars, 17g protein, 19Est GL.

Make Your Own Hemp Milk

MAKES 5 CUPS

Can’t find hemp milk at your local grocery? It’s easy to whirl up your own.

1 cup hemp seeds
4 cups water

1. Blend together shelled hemp seeds with water in a blender for 1 minute.

2. Blend in your favorite flavoring, such as maple syrup, chopped dates or vanilla extract.

TIP For the most nutritional benefit, consume hemp milk unstrained. For a smoother beverage, strain hemp milk through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth before adding flavor.

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