Tuesday, January 14, 2014

31 Days of Green: Day 14 Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are easily my favorite nut or seed (and yes, look closely, they are green!). Sure pumpkin seeds are great and who doesn’t love the versatility of almonds? When it comes to taste, nutrition and ease; hemp seeds are an easy winner. First of all they are a complete protein, meaning they contain all of the 20 amino acids  (9 of which humans cannot synthesize and have to get from diet). They are also a healthy balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. The modern western diet is high in omega 6 and low in omega 3, you really want it to be the other way around as an out of whack ratio is thought to cause inflammation in the body. In addition hemp seeds are a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E. You can read more about that here

Hemp can be used to make clothing, rope, and paper. It is much more sustainable and economical than trees because it grows fast and is much stronger and less harsh on the soil. A soap box for another day perhaps? For eating you can find hemp in the form of raw shelled seeds, oil, and even protein powders. I’ve never tried the oil, but I’m sure it is delicious. I love using hemp protein powder to make thin mints!  However my favorite way to eat hemp is to utilize the seeds. You can sprinkle them on salad, throw them in a smoothie, or add them to casseroles. They have a mild nutty flavor and add some tasty fat to your dish. The main way we eat them around here is in our coffee by making hemp milk. We drink lots of different kinds of milk; whole cows milk, raw goats milk (shh don’t tell the government), almond milk, coconut milk, pumpkin seed milk, brazil nut milk; if it’s a nut or seed, I’ve probably made ‘milk’ out of it. You often see these premade in the stores. Those are okay sometimes but they have some questionable ingredients,so I try to always do it homemade. The only issue with homemade is it does not last as long and its not always quick. With most nuts and seeds you have to soak them first; this makes them more digestible and easier to blend (especially if you don’t have a high power blender, which we don’t). If I have the mind I will soak almonds or Brazil nuts over night and can make milk in the morning but I usually don’t remember! Hemp seeds don’t need to be soaked first and easily blend, you don’t even have to strain it like other nut/seed milks. I can make small batches of hemp milk quickly for our breakfast needs. This is definitely baby approved. 

Hemp Milk

Gluten Free, Vegan
Makes 1 cup

1 cup water
¼ cup hemp seeds
1-2 medjool dates (soaked in warm water if needed)*
pinch salt
pinch vanilla powder (optional)

*If your dates are firm or you don’t have a high-speed blender then I recommend soaking them in ½ cup of warm water for at least 30 minutes to soften them up first. See the notes and substitutions for an even quicker method. Combine all of the ingredients into your blender (note: you can put the dates and water they were soaking in into the blender and you will only need to add ½ cup more of water to get a total of 1 cup). Blend until the smooth; you will likely have some small particles in the bottom, you can use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to get them out but I find that there are so few that it doesn’t bother us. Taste and adjust sweetens to your liking. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for 3-5 days. Serve cold.

Notes and Substitutions

  • *You can use 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup or any other sweetener instead of the dates. We often make it with maple syrup. 
  • Besides vanilla powder, 1-2 tablespoon of cacao powder can be used to make this chocolate.

Creamy Apricot Hemp Milk

Gluten Free, Vegan
Adapted from a recipe in this book 
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup water
4 dried apricots soaked in ½ cup water until plump and soft
¼ cup hemp seeds
1 tbl coconut butter
pinch salt
pinch vanilla powder

Put all of the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Use a cheesecloth or mesh strainer to strain out particulates. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for 3-5 days. Serve cold

Notes and Substitutions

  • You can make your own coconut butter by blundering dry unsweetened coconut shreds or flakes in the food processor until it turns to liquid.
  • Feel free to try out other dried fruits!

Do you like hemp seeds? How do you like to use hemp seeds?

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