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Got hemp? An ingredient feature.

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Every time I tell my friends that I’m drinking hemp, they make doobie smoking gestures and say something along the lines of, “Hemp? That’s groovy dude.”  As I’ve vocalized at many parties, “THC is not for me!”  The only buzz that I get from a hemp smoothie is the buzz of health and vitality. Yes, I’m fairly square, and proud of it! And no, eating hemp will not get you high.

I discovered hemp a few years ago when I was looking for a complete protein supplement. I’ve always disliked the taste of soy protein, and for a while it seemed like the only veg protein source out there. That’s why hemp was such an exciting discovery for me.  Hemp seeds are very high in protein and contain all nine of the essential amino acids —something uncommon in plant proteins, making it the perfect supplement for vegetarian or vegan diets. The omega fatty acids are also abundant in hemp seeds and they come in a balanced ratio. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, potassium, fibre and vitamins E, D, A. It has antioxidant qualities, it’s a cancer fighter, a brain builder and promotes good digestive health. It’s also good for your skin, hair, nails, and has been rumoured to treat skin ailments when applied topically (although I wouldn’t suggest this without further research).

It won’t make you bloat like some other protein supplements *cough* soy.  It also slows down digestion, which prevents spikes in blood sugar so your energy is sustained and your appetite is suppressed. I can actually vouch for this personally – I have an epic appetite and I was blown away when a hemp smoothie filled me up. That means it’s fantastic if you want to shed a few pounds too. Basically, it’s freaking awesome.

Hemp has been especially popularized in the last two years along with the other SUPER FOODS (chia, flax, quinoa). There are quite a few hemp products on the market now and tons of hemp supplements. I can’t really say that I’ve tried everything available but I can share with you the hemp products that I use regularly.

Shelled raw hemp

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These soft shelled organic hemp seeds may also be referred to as hemp hearts. They’ve essentially removed the outer shell of the seed to make it soft and easy to eat. This reduces the fibre content and changes the taste and texture completely. Hemp hearts are soft, fatty and subtle in flavour. It’s a live food so it’s mega healthy, especially if you eat it raw on a salad or in a smoothie. They are also excellent in a home made veggie paté, patties and burgers. Since they are raw seeds, they should be refrigerated- I store mine in a mason jar.

Hemp protein powder

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This is probably the hemp product that I use the most. I discovered Ruth’s brand after some extensive research online. I went a little wacko trying to find the BEST protein supplement out there. My research led me to this brand and I haven’t tried any others yet. You can order it on Amazon but I found mine for $19 at my all time favourite store – Branche D’olivier.  

I’ll be totally honest, this stuff is not delicious. I personally love the taste but I’ve always liked “earthy flavours.” It kind of tastes like dirt. If you aren’t into the taste, you’ll have to just add a touch to your smoothies. The good thing is that 1 tbsp has 7g of protein, so a little goes a long way. I sometimes add it  to a glass of water and drink it straight. Like I said, I love the taste but I’m not too sure others would.

Drinking my morning Kale-Mango-Hemp smoothie on the bus.

Please remember that I’m not a nutrition specialist but my advice with a supplement like this is to remember that just 1 tbsp has 60 calories. It’s pretty hearty stuff! My morning green hemp smoothie (500ml) is about 300 calories. You shouldn’t have a hemp smoothie on top of your regular meal portion because you’ll be doubling your calorie intake for the day. Rather, I like to have a hemp smoothie as a meal replacement or a mid-day snack before the gym. The great thing is that it really does fill you up. If you mix it with the right fruits and veggies, you’ve got a well balance meal.

Toasted hemp seeds

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Whole toasted hemp seeds are a fantastic snacking food. They’re really yummy especially when salted or flavoured.  They’ve got a nutty taste and crunchy texture. I have the Ecoideas brand at home but you can really try any brand of toasted seeds.  It’s not as healthy as the raw seeds or protein powder but a hell of a lot tastier. Eat them plain, as a snack, or toss some on a green salad. Yum!

You can find these at the health food store, or you can order them online. Oddly enough, I found mine at Winners. 

Hemp seed oil

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This cold pressed oil is not meant for cooking and it should be kept refrigerated in order to preserved the omega fatty acids. I use hemp oil where I would normally use oil olive – sauces, drizzles, salad dressings.  If you cook with it, you’ll loose the health benefits, which sort of defeats the purpose.

A lot of people take hemp oil as an omega 3, 6 supplement since it has the an ideal 3:1 balance ratio. The Manitoba Harvest brand seem to be the big guys in Canadian hemp products and they offer a hemp oil capsule. You can order it online, otherwise you’ll probably find it at your local health food store. I’ve never taken them personally but I think it’s definitely worth looking into as a humane alternative to fish oils.

The info provided for this post was based on a few years my personal research.  I would like to credit all my research sources but that would be impossible. Instead I’ll credit a few below, which you can consult for more information.

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/beverage1/a/what-are-hemp-seeds.htm

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-hemp-2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp

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