HEMP – alternative protein that is nut free, soy free, and dairy free
HEMP – An Alternative (and vegan) Protein Source
Since my meal planning philosophy typically embraces a breakdown of nutrients at both the micro level (vitamins and minerals) and the macro level (carbs, proteins and fats) I often get asked for alternative sources of protein than the most obvious (beef, chicken, fish, eggs). If I did a family feud type survey, out of one hundred answers soy or tofu would be the number one answer. We may whittle down to pea protein or other legumes and then of course nuts. It is not often one hears of hemp. Most refer to it as a side ingredient to muesli or granola but have yet to categorize it as a vegan alternative protein. More recently, Hemp has been classified in the superfood group and even healthier fare restaurants like Sunflower Café, or True Foods have it showing up on many menu selections. Before we know it, the more common restaurant chains are going to catch on… and for good reason!
A Medicinal view point
Interestingly enough, hemp seeds are related to a marijuana plant, as both originate from the Cannabis plant. The difference is that hemp does not contain the active compound called THC that marijuana does. THC is the secret culprit for producing the ‘high’ effect. Instead, the micronutrient panel of Hemp includes a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium and phosphorous like all good proteins do. It also is a rich source of vitamin E which is considered a powerful antioxidant.
At the macronutrient level, Hemp seeds are considered a good source of plant based protein with 2 tablespoons providing 5 grams of protein. The rest of the 90 calories in these two tablespoons are made up of 2 grams of fiber (placing hemp into a high fiber group) as well as 6 grams of good fat and 3 grams of total carbohydrates. Hemp, is naturally sodium and cholesterol free.
Although I am yet to study marijuana in its planted based form, I somehow doubt that the marijuana plant can claim all this 😉
How to use it
Hemp has a nutty like flavor that will work in a diversity of recipes, from sweet to savoury. They can be eaten raw, and are often found in sprouted form whether ground into a meal/flour or a raw grain in health breads.
Hemp can be simply sprinkled on oats, yogurts, soups, salads, stir fry’s or stews. They also work well in flavoring some old favorite recipes like pasta sauce or even to replace pine nuts in pesto based dishes.
Hemp can also be found in a powdered form or a hemp milk form for the specific use as a protein substitute and is therefore good in smoothies and protein drinks. Hemp milk can even replace dairy based milk for drinking or in vegan recipes requiring a dairy substitute.
Hemp seeds also can be pressed to produce an oil base, good for dressings and drizzles over salads and vegetable dishes, however it is not good for cooking since it has a fairly low smoke or burn point (therefore should not be brought to a high temperature).
Hemp seeds, powder form (mealed), hemp milk and oil can all be stored safely and thus purchased in bulk. Be aware however that hemp is in original form, a seed, it thus oxidizes. This translates to storing in airtight containers and kept in a cool, dry place (preferably the fridge) to keep oxidation to a minimum.
This newly classified superfood called hemp, popping up on restaurant menus and many health magazine recipes, can provide a great addition to a variety of foods and offer a diversity of flavor and nutrients simultaneously. From serving with hot or cold cereals, to baked breads, muffins or other bakery items, it also offers a healthy ingredient in dressings and sauces. For vegans it is a good source of protein, and in particular it is a great substitute for all that may be looking for a soy free, nut free and/or dairy free option.
pumpkin seed bread
(18 servings of 1 slice each)
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup mashed pumpkin (from can is fine)
1/2 cup hemp seed oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup hemp seeds (shelled)
1/2 cup mixture of options (nuts, dried fruit, etc0
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves in a large mixing bowl.
in a separate bowl whisk the eggs, add pumpkin, oil and water. Mix well.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ones. Fold in the hemp seeds and other options (nuts, dried fruit, etc)
Spray a 9 x 5 ” pan with pam. pour in batter. bake at 350 degrees for approx 1 hour or until baking tester comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack.