The first time I tried hemp seeds was at a Dietitian conference when Manitoba Harvest (one of the main companies) supplied samples. I was fresh in my dietetics studies and being the straight laced person I am, I was nervous to try “hemp seeds.” Call me crazy, but I didn’t want to “get high” from a food when I had upcoming work drug tests coming up. Turns out I was neurotic and crazy and that can’t actually happen because although hemp and marijuana are in the same species, they are totally different plants. Who knew 😉
Now I eat hemp seeds all the time and although they are often called hemp seeds, we really eat the heart; the inner white kernel that is soft protected by a hard popcorn sized kernel that is usually removed before eating. Hemp hearts are the same as hemp seeds. You may also see hemp protein, which is simply ground hemp hearts.
The natural oils in hemp are relatively delicate, so you don’t want to cook with hemp but you can add at time of serving easily. Also, it’s a good idea to store the nuggets in the fridge to extend the shelf life to about a year. If left open in the pantry, the shelf life is a few months. If you have hemp seeds in your pantry, give them a whiff and if they smell rancid, they will taste rancid. Again, this is due to the delicate oils, so store these nutritional powerhouses in the fridge if you can.
In general hemp is one of the most easily digestible foods and because hemp is a seed, it’s safe for those of you out there with nut or legume intolerances (as is sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and sesame). Two tablespoons packs all essential amino acids with nine grams of protein and five grams of omega three fatty acids (a three ounce serving of salmon contains a half to one gram omega 3 fatty acids). Also consider this, that same serving has:
- 22% daily value iron
- 75% daily value vitamin E
- 40% daily value phosphorus
- 34% daily value zinc
- 75% daily value magnesium
- Over 100% daily value manganese
Talk about a super food! A lot of nutrition packed in a small package – literally and figuratively. Basically, if you want more plant based goodness and/or looking for nut alternatives, consider hemp seeds. Check out my favorite ways to eat them below!
- Sprinkle on cold cereal, salads, smoothie bowls
- Blend into smoothies
- Blend into dressings for added creaminess and slight nuttiness
- Sprinkle on toast – really great with avocado toast!
- Mix into oatmeal or other hot cereal
- Stir into pesto or red sauce for added hit of subtle texture
- Mix into homemade granola bars or energy balls
- Sprinkle onto pancakes or waffles just before first side is done cooking and you’re getting ready to flip
- Stir into nut butter before spreading it on bread or dipping apples
- Pepper into a wrap or bowl of goodness
And if you like visuals…this is how I’ve included hemp seed this past week…
Do you eat hemp seeds? If not, hopefully this list gave you some inspiration to start using them as they are one of nature’s easiest digestible proteins loaded with micronutrients. As this years theme for National Nutrition Month, go further with food (aka like hemp seeds 😉 ).