Groovy hemp is bursting with nutritional goodness. Although the word hemp often brings to mind peace, love, and tie-dyes, the variety of hemp grown for food production in Canada contains just a fraction of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in its bad-boy sibling marijuana.

So the only “high” you’ll get comes from the satisfaction of providing your body with a nutritional bonanza.

Despite a long industrial and medicinal history, cultivation of the hemp plant in Canada was banned in 1938 due to its association with narcotic forms of cannabis. Thankfully, with the hard work of several “I want to eat hemp legally” advocates, in March 1998 Health Canada finally relented and allowed commercial production of the hemp crop under a strict licensing system.

Haven’t joined the growing legion of hemp devotees yet? These recipes prove that it’s just as versatile as it is delish.


Hemp guises

With so many forms of hemp food now on store shelves, it’s easier than ever to get your fix.

Hempseeds
The hempseed’s outer shell is removed to leave the inner kernel (or hemp heart) whose flavour is reminiscent of mellow pine nuts.

How to use: Generously sprinkle on soups, yogourt, fruit and vegetable salads, oatmeal,
stir-fries, and ice cream.

Hemp oil
Hempseeds are pressed to extract their omega-plush verdant oil.

How to use: Incorporate into vinaigrettes, smoothies, pesto, sauces, and dips. Hemp oil is not heat stable, so keep it out of the frying pan.

Hemp butter
Hempseeds are ground into a protein-rich, nut-free, buttery spread.

How to use: Add a layer of loveliness to toast, whole grain crackers, and sliced apples.

Hemp protein powder
Milled from hempseeds, some powders contain an abundance of fibre as well as easy-to-digest protein.

How to use: Whirl into smoothies, or replace a quarter of the flour called for in a baking recipe with hemp protein powder.

Hemp milk
Hempseeds are soaked and ground into water, creating an allergen-free, no-moo beverage.

How to use: Enjoy straight up, blend into smoothies and baked goods, steam into lattes, or float your cereal in it. Boxes labelled original or unsweetened will contain fewer sugar calories.

 


8 reasons to try hemp

Load up on protein
With an alluring nutty, earthy flavour, hempseed provides more protein—about 11 grams per ounce—than most other seeds including sunflower, flax, and pumpkin.

Speed muscle recovery
A dose of hemp post-workout can help mend weary muscles. “Hemp provides all the essential amino acids muscles need for repair and growth so that they can become stronger,” says Brendan Brazier, former professional triathlete and author of The Thrive Diet (Penguin, 2007).

Tame inflammation
Brazier says that noshing on hemp food can quell inflammation by providing a healthy ratio—roughly 3 to 1—of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s. When these essential fats are consumed in this ratio, they create an anti-inflammatory effect that helps ward off a number of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers.

Keep bones strong
Since hemp is highly alkaline, a daily dose or two can help keep your body from being too acidic. “This is vital for bone health since an alkaline diet means calcium won’t have to be pulled from the bone to neutralize the acidity,” says Brazier.

Fight diabetes
Nature’s rock star is chockablock with magnesium. A 2010 study in Diabetes Care reported that adults who consumed the most magnesium over a 20-year period were about half as likely to develop diabetes as those who took in the least amount.

Cut cholesterol
Hemp is known to contain plant sterols, which a number of studies credit with helping reduce cholesterol numbers, making hemp a champion for heart health.

Slash cancer risk
Among the smorgasbord of nutrients in this superseed is folate. Studies suggest that this B vitamin aids in normal cell replication, thereby conferring protection against certain cancers, including pancreatic and colon.

Go green
Immensely sustainable hemp grows very well with limited resources, including less water than many other crops. To further up its eco cachet, hemp is never genetically modified.

 


 

Recipes

About the Author

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is an Ontario-based dietician, nutrition writer, and recipe developer. muffintinmania.com