Oh friends, have I got a recipe for you!
It’s been a while since I did a very nutrition-focused post, and I think it’s about time we talk about hemp seeds since I’ve 1) been loving them lately, and 2) they’re superfoods that do wonders for our bodies. What kind of wonders? I’ll tell ya.
First things first: What are they?
In case you haven’t tried them before, hemp seeds are small beige/green-ish seeds that are shaped like small disks – think cooked quinoa, but flat like a pancake. You’ll also see them sold as hemp hearts (which is technically more correct, because you’re buying the seeds without the shells) and they look like this:
Why are they so good for us?
Firstly, hemp seeds are a complete protein. So what? Here’s the deal: There are 20 types of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Our bodies are really good at making some of them, but there are 9 that it just can’t do. Therefore, we need to get these through food sources. You can find complete proteins in animal products, but clearly, these aren’t an option for vegans and vegetarians. So how do our non-meat eating friends get those 9 essential amino acids? By eating a variety of protein-rich foods like beans, legumes, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and whole grains (yep, there’s protein in whole grains!)
Back to hemp: As I mentioned, it’s a complete protein. I made the mistake of saying it wasn’t in a post written a long time ago, and this is me correcting myself. In terms of digestibility, hemp is also one of the most easily digested forms of protein, and you’ll find 5 lovely grams of it in each 2 tablespoon serving. If you’re lactose intolerant, or if dairy products (especially protein powders) cause you discomfort and bloating, hemp could be a good alternative.
And what about the other benefits? Get ready for the laundry list! Hemp seeds contain…
- High amounts of fatty acids – even more than flax or the other popular healthy oils and nuts you’ve heard about.
- Fiber – 2g in 2 tablespoons
- Vitamin E – A vitamin that helps to neutralize the damaging effects of toxins in our environment. It’s a fat soluble vitamin, so in order for it to be absorbed effectively, it needs to be consumed with a little fat. Conveniently, that’s where the omega-3s come in!
- A great nutritional balance: For every omega-6 healthy fat, there are 3 omega-3s. (They typical North American diet is made up of far more omega-6s, and omega-3s are the ones we want for improving heart health, immunity, and cardiovascular function!
- Lots of phytonutrients that help keep our bodies functioning optimally, fending of nasty diseases, and feeling generally awesome.
In the long term, this means:
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduced inflammation
- Better digestion (since your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down hemp seeds as it does other sources of protein)
- A stronger immune system
Not bad, hey?
So how do you incorporate them in your diet?
There are plenty of ways, my favourite being sprinkled over salads (and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, that won’t come as a surprise.) Recently I received a big bag of hemp seeds from North Coast Naturals (a Canadian company – woop woop!) and this got me thinking of some more creative applications.
What started off as a random recipe brainstorm turned into an absolute masterpiece., the kind that had me running round to my neighbours squealing “Taste this! Taste this!!!” Well, maybe not quite. But close.
Hemp Seed Hummus
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (about 2 cups)
- 1 can (about 2 cups) cooked chickpeas, rinsed
- 2 tbsp harissa (an African paste made of spices, which you’ll find in the ethnic aisle of most large grocery stores)
- 3 tbsp raw hemp seeds, plus more to garnish
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or hemp oil, if you have it)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- whole coriander seeds and paprika (optional, to garnish)
Place all ingredients except for garnishes in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. If necessary, drizzle a little extra lemon juice and olive oil down the processor chute to get things moving.
Transfer to a bowl and top with coriander seeds, hemp seeds, and paprika if desired. Serve with crackers, veggies, or pita wedges, or use the hummus as a spread on sandwiches and wraps.
Salads and hummus… what else?
With my freshly restocked supply of hemp seeds, I found myself Pinteresting away the hours on the weekend in search of healthy hemp recipes. These are the ones I’ve got my eye on:
- Kale and Avocado Salad with Sweet and Sour Dressing from Foolproof Living
- Banana Hemp Crackers from Om Nom Ally
- Raw Hemp and Chia Seed Bars from The Healthy Family and Home
- Pesto-Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccine from Almost the Truth
- Hemp Protein Granola Bars from My New Roots
- Hemp Seed and Quinoa Pilaf with Peas and Basil from Edamam
- Lemony Cabbage-Avocado Slaw from Whole Foods
- Hulled Hemp Seed Salad with Apple Dressing from Oh Sweet Basil
So tell me…
What are your favourite ways to enjoy hemp seeds? Feel free to link up to some recipes!