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Everything You Need to Know About How to Eat Hemp Seeds

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Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods

As far as the nut and seed world goes, hemp seeds are like the straight-A student who’s also captain of the football team. A couple of spoonfuls of hemp seeds packs a serious amount of essential nutrients, they’re easy to eat and cook with, and they have a pleasantly nutty taste, like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. And no, they won’t get you remotely high. Here’s everything you need to know about how to buy and eat these little seeds.

Although hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, they’re in effect completely different plants. There are about a dozen varieties of hemp plants that are grown for food, and all of them contain about 0.001 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This means you can eat as much hemp as you want and you’ll never have to worry about getting high or failing a drug test. Although certain states have begun to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the last couple of years, the hemp seeds you can find at your grocery or health food store were likely grown in Canada or China.

Hemp plants grow brown popcorn kernel-sized hard seeds. Inside these hard seeds lie soft, white or light green inner kernels that are packed with essential amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can’t really derive a lot of nutritional value from the unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag at the store labeled “hemp seeds,” what you’re actually buying is those soft inner kernels, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a byproduct that can be turned into hemp protein powder. You can find all of these hemp products at health food stores, or a well-stocked grocery store like Whole Foods.

Eating shelled hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, is as simple as sprinkling a spoonful or two into smoothies or on top of cereal, salads, or yogurt, says Kelly Saunderson of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, the world’s largest hemp foods manufacturer. People with gluten sensitivity can use hemp seeds as a substitute for breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish. Just like you can blend almonds and water to make almond milk, you can do the same with hemp seeds for hemp seed milk, which you can use as an alternative to dairy milk in drinks and recipes. And because of its nutty flavor, hemp seeds make a great substitute for people with nut allergies—you can dry-toast them over low heat to bring out even more of that nuttiness.

Hemp seed oil should be used as a finishing oil, rather than a cooking or frying oil, since the delicate omega fatty acids will break down during the cooking process, stripping the oil of its nutritional benefits. Instead, use it to make salad dressings, or drizzle over pasta, grilled veggies, or popcorn.

Hemp seeds are considered one of the most valuable plant-based proteins out there. Here's what you need to know about how to eat them.

Three Ways to Eat More Hemp

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Hemp seeds are considered a superfood, packed with plant-based protein and a nutrient-rich profile that includes fibre, minerals, healthy fats and vitamins. They are allergen-free and hemp is sustainable to grow.

For those looking to increase the protein content in their diet, hemp seeds are an excellent option. More than 25% of hemp seeds’ total calories is from high-quality protein, compared to chia seeds and flaxseeds whose calories are 16-18% protein.

But how to eat more hemp? Here are three ways!

1) Hemp seeds – shelled or whole

Hemp seeds are small brown seeds which come from the hemp plant and have a slightly nutty flavour. They come in a hard hull or shell.

The seeds can be eaten whole, with the shell left on, and add a lovely crunch to recipes such as our vegan flapjack. Some people also separate the seed from the hull, and then grind up the hull into a fibre-rich powder that can then be used in food.

In some parts of the world, whole hemp seeds are roasted and eaten as a popular snack, like popcorn, often sold from street-food stands in bags or cones.

However, for convenience, many people opt for shelled hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, where the shell has already been removed. Shelled hemp seeds are softer in texture and paler in colour.

The Hemp Pantry sells delicious organic shelled hemp seeds and these can be enjoyed in a number of ways. They can be eaten raw, baked or toasted.

Here are a few ideas:

· Sprinkled on salads

Add a tablespoon of hemp hearts to just about any salad to enhance its superfood credentials.

A favourite is a fresh and colourful tabbouleh salad with parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, olive oil, bulgur wheat, pomegranates and hemp hearts.

Hemp seeds can also be used to make hummus and dips.

· Mixed with granola or cereal

A healthy, protein-rich breakfast kickstarts your day and fuels you all morning.

Why not add hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds to your favourite vegan granola, top with fruit and coconut yoghurt for a delicious and filling first meal of the day.

· Added to soups and stews

A few hemp seeds can be added to any soup or stew, whether cooked from scratch or shop-bought, to improve the healthy nutrient profile.

Brighten up your lunch with our bright-green vegan pea, mint and hemp soup.

· In cakes and bakes

Hemp seeds can be an ingredient in cakes and bakes recipes. For inspiration, see our flapjack recipe.

As they have a slightly nutty flavour, they can be used in place of nuts in many recipes. They can be included in cakes, such as carrot or banana, in muffins and in energy bars for an extra shot of protein.

· With pasta

Hemp seeds can be sprinkled on top of pasta, or used as a key component of the sauce.

Make some hemp pesto or add hemp seeds to our vegan bechamel sauce recipe with some vegan cheese for a moreish creamy pasta.

· To make delicious bread

Hemp seeds work perfectly in bread recipes, adding a delicious nutty taste and complementing other seeds.

Spread our vegan butter alternative Veurre® on warm hemp bread as a perfect accompaniment to soup.

· As a dairy milk substitute

Shelled hemp seeds can also be used to make hemp milk, which is a great dairy-free alternative to milk.

Simply blend 100g shelled hemp seeds with 1 litre of water. There’s no need to filter it and it will last up to five days in the fridge. It has a mild nutty flavour and perfect to use on your morning cereal.

· Toasted

For a toasty flavour and more of a crunch, you can toast hemp seeds in a frying pan or in the oven.

The browned seeds can then be added to salads, soups, eaten as they are, or used as an ingredient in baking and cooking.

· Confectionary

Hemp seeds are very versatile and can even be enjoyed in sweet treats – they are a key ingredient in our mouth-wateringly good vegan fudge which comes in five flavours from lemon drizzle to chocolate.

2) Hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil is made from pressing hemp seeds. It is not the same as CBD oil which comes from the flowers, stalks and leaves of the hemp plant.

Hemp seed oil is packed with healthy polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. It contains a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered the ideal ratio. For this reason, it has been dubbed ‘nature’s most perfectly balanced oil’.

The Hemp Pantry’s organic cold-pressed hemp seed oil has a mild nutty, slightly grassy flavour. It’s a light-green oil that is perfect for drizzling over salads, vegetables and soups. It can also be used to make salad dressings, dips and pesto.

Hemp seed oil can also be applied topically like olive oil or coconut oil to nourish the hair and skin.

One thing that’s not recommended is frying with it. Hemp seed oil has a low smoke point which means it starts to burn at a lower temperature than other vegetable oils.

3) Hemp protein powder

Whole hemp seeds that have been pressed to remove the oil are then grinded into a fine powder.

This fine powder is considered a complete protein source as it contains all nine essential amino acids. These cannot be made in the body and can only come from food.

Essential amino acids perform a number of vital roles in our body including in our nervous, reproductive, immune and digestive systems. They are also widely known for their role in muscle repair and development.

The Hemp Pantry’s organic hemp protein powder contains 50% protein and has a natural, earthy, slightly nutty flavour. For a massive protein hit, add hemp protein powder to smoothies and shakes, cakes and bakes, porridge and cereals. See our vegan berry and hemp smoothie recipe for a fresh and fruity drink.

We add hemp protein powder to our tasty Kakaoboll. These bite-sized cacao, coffee and oat balls are inspired by the traditional Swedish sweet treat. They are perfect for a mid-morning snack, a before-during-or-after workout energy boost or to satisfy a sweet craving.

Eat more healthy hemp

Brimming with protein, fibre, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins, it’s no surprise that hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and hemp protein powder are popular choices for those on plant-based, vegan, protein-rich or healthy diets.

Delicious and versatile, hemp can be eaten at every meal of the day, including in snacks and drinks!

To check out our hemp-based, organic vegan products, including shelled hemp seeds, hemp seed oil and hemp protein powder, please visit our online shop.

Hemp seeds are considered a superfood, packed with plant-based protein and a nutrient-rich profile that includes fibre, minerals, healthy fats and vitamins. But how to eat more hemp? Here are three ways!