Putting aside all of the political lunacy which prohibits the present-day cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States, hemp is known by many worldwide as “nature’s perfect food.” Despite the fact that it is illegal to grow hemp in the U.S., fortunately, it is legal to buy and sell hemp foods.
Hemp’s reputation as a nutritional powerhouse is well-earned, because hempseed oil has a remarkable fatty acid profile containing 57% Omega-6 linoleic acid and 19% Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, in the 3:1 ratio that matches our bodies’ nutritional needs. Hemp also contains 31% highly digestible protein, with an amino acid profile that is superior to soy or cow's milk.
That said, what does hempseed taste like? To be honest, hempseed oil has a rather strong, distinctive taste and a pungent odor. I’ve tried using shelled hempseed in smoothies, and couldn’t get beyond the oily smell. I tried using hempseed oil poured over salad as a dressing, and couldn’t manage more than a single biteful. So, what good is a nutritional treasure trove if you can’t stand to eat it?
Happily, there are ways to utilize hemp as a food source, and to make foods from hemp that are both healthful and great tasting. First, I learned that hulled hempseed (also referred to as hempnut) is a wonderful addition to any baked goods recipe. I add about ¼ cup when baking bread or muffins, and the end result is not only delicious and more nutritious, but whole, hulled hempnuts add moisture and texture, too. You can also sprinkle hempseed over hot cereal. It’s especially flavorful mixed into oatmeal with maple syrup and dates.
Never to leave my dog, Cicely out of the equation, she too benefits from the Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids that hemp provides. I enjoy making her all kinds of hempseed treats and she loves wolfing them down. Here is one favorite recipe that is free of the most common allergens: wheat, corn, dairy, and eggs:
Happy Hempie Biscuits
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 tablespoons agave nectar or 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted Earth Balance spread
1/2 cup rice or almond milk
Combine oatmeal, 3/4 cup of the rye flour, hemp seeds, agave nectar, and Earth Balance together. Slowly add the milk until a firm but slightly sticky dough forms. Scrape out dough onto a wooden board or counter. Knead in the rest of the rye flour until the dough stiffens a little. Wrap in saran wrap and chill for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter and cut into cute shapes. (I use little hearts.) Place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn off oven and let biscuits rest until cool in the oven with the door closed. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
A growing number of natural food companies are using their creativity and imagination to come up with hemp convenience foods you will really enjoy. Here are a few of the most inspired:
Hempen Dairy-Free Chocolate Bars
Conscious Creations Organics, Eugene, OR
These delectables come in three flavors: Hempenberry, Hempen Mint, and
Hempen Hazelnut. While all are yummy, the Hempenberry flavor propelled my tastebuds into another realm. Eating one of these bars is truly one of those manna-from-heaven experiences. And while it’s tempting to eat the whole bar at one sitting, it’s so intensely satisfying, that I can actually get by with just a bite or two. This all organic treat is made with cranberries, almonds, sunflower seeds, hemp and flaxseed. They call it “Food of the Goddess” and I think they got that right, but no doubt “the Gods” will surely hunger for it, too. Websites: www.foodofthegoddess.com and www.veganessentials.com.
Hempshake Natural Food Seasonsings
Legend Foods, Sandpoint, ID
I admit it; I like to sprinkle stuff on my food. So, what better way to add nutrition to a meal, than with a little Hempshake? They’re made with organic hemp, herbs, and spices, and without any artificial flavors, ingredients, or preservatives. You’ll have trouble deciding which of the six flavors you like best. I’m particularly fond of Dessert Hempshake with cocoa and vanilla. It tastes fabulous on everything from waffles to Purely Decadent Soy Delicious frozen desserts! Once you start Hempshaking, you won’t want to stop. Get yours at: www.hempshake.com.
Ruth’s Raw Hemp Protein Power
Ruth’s Hemp Foods, Toronto, CANADA
As I said earlier, adding hulled hempseed to my blended smoothies did not work very well. But, Ruth’s Raw Protein Hemp Power adds a most pleasing taste and texture to any smoothie recipe. These awesome blends provide all of hemp’s nutrition, (as well as flax and maca’s) are 100% organic, and they’re totally raw. Substitute up to 15% of the flour in any recipe with these powders, or stir some into soy yogurt, or hot or cold cereal. Now, I would never dream of using any other kind of protein powder, and I am totally hooked on these blends. Ruth’s also makes a variety of other imaginative hempfoods like hemp tortilla chips, hemp salsa, and hemp salad dressing. Check them out at: Website: www.ruthshempfoods.com.
Nature’s Path Organic Hemp Plus Granola
Nature’s Path Foods, Blaine, WA
Maybe I’ve watched one too many Seinfeld episodes, but a bowl of cereal is still one of my favorite comfort foods. The problem is that so many cereals are made from wheat (which I’ve lately been trying to avoid.) Does it come in a cardboard box? Yes. Is it sweetened with sugar? Sure. But, Organic Hemp Plus Granola is made with oats, hemp, and flaxseed providing lots of naturally nutritious goodness. Drenched in soymilk, Hemp Plus Granola’s sweet and crunchy golden clusters are a delicious way to start the day, or you can grab a handful for a tasty snack on the run. It’s also great when mixed with a bowl of fresh berries, or sprinkled over your favorite frozen dessert. Website: www.naturespath.com.