Hemp is part of the Cannabis family, and can be processed into a wide variety of foods and products including hemp seed, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, building material, paper, and fuel. Hemp is not only versatile in its uses but also a fast-growing, water-efficient crop.
Hemp seeds — also called “hemp hearts” — are the delicious nutty, highly nutritive shelled seeds of the plant. Just like chia and flax, hemp contains a wide array of minerals — however, it delivers higher amounts of iron, zinc, magnesium, and manganese per serving. Hemp seeds are a complete protein and contain all of the essential amino acids which do everything from keeping depression at bay to building your immune system.
Shop for hemp seeds at your local health food or specialty store. If you plan on buying in bulk, hemp seeds can go rancid easily since they are high in fat content and no longer have their shells to protect the delicate oils that make up most of the seed. Just like other seeds and nuts, store them away from direct light and warm surfaces. I store a few cups in an air-tight glass container in the fridge, and the remaining in zipper locks bags in the freezer.
To cook with hemp seeds, use them as you would any other tasty seed! To keep calories in check, start with 1 tablespoon (57 calories) per person, per recipe. Sprinkle on desserts, add to smoothies, add to breading mixes, fold into meatloaf and meatball mixtures, sprinkle on salads and over soups. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor that works in just about any recipe.
Zucchini Peanut Hemp Noodles
“Cold sesame noodles” from the local Chinese take-out is dee-lish but this version is a lot lighter made with zucchini in place of high-calorie udon noodles. If you can’t have peanut butter, use 1/4 cup tahini paste mixed with 1/4 cup water instead. If you want to opt for whole grain noodles in place of zucchini, try whole wheat angel hair, buckwheat soba noodles, or these delectable brown rice noodles that have the taste and texture of white pasta.
2 large zucchinis, stems removed
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lime, zested and juice
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon hot sauce such as Sriracha
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
Using the shredder attachment on a mandoline, cut the zucchini into noodle shapes and transfer to a bowl. Prepare the sauce. Place the peanut butter, coconut milk, lime zest and juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and hot sauce in a medium bowl Whisk well to combine.
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the zucchini noodles and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing occasionally until the zucchini is tender. Turn the heat off and transfer to a platter. Top with the peanut sauce and toss. Sprinkle with the scallions and the hemp seeds and serve immediately.
Cranberry Hemp Turtles
Traditional turtle candies contain bits a chewy caramel that you can certainly add to these if you have it on hand. To balance out the calories, cut the cranberries if using caramel. Raisins and dried cherries are tasty swaps for cranberries — or make a “nutty” version by adding mixed nuts in place of the pecans and raspberries. To make these more gourmet, use flavorings in your melted chocolate like 1/4 teaspoon almond or hazelnut extract.
Makes a Dozen Turtles
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa),chopped
1/4 cup hemp seeds
Set out two plates covered with wax paper. Start by making mounds of the pecans, about 4 per mound, on the plates, spaced 1/2-inch apart, until you have 6 mounds on each plate. Sprinkle each mound with a heaping spoonful of the cranberries. Place the chocolate in a heavy saucepan and place over very low heat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often, until the chocolate melts and no clumps are present.
Remove immediately from the heat. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, drizzle a spoonful of the chocolate over the center of each mound. Sprinkle with the hemp seeds. Transfer the plates to the fridge and chill 1 hour or until firm. Serve immediately.