what can you substitute for hemp hearts

Everything You Need to Know About How to Eat Hemp Seeds

As far as the nut and seed world goes, hemp seeds are like the straight-A student who’s also captain of the football team. A couple of spoonfuls of hemp seeds packs a serious amount of essential nutrients, they’re easy to eat and cook with, and they have a pleasantly nutty taste, like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. And no, they won’t get you remotely high. Here’s everything you need to know about how to buy and eat these little seeds.

Although hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, they’re in effect completely different plants. There are about a dozen varieties of hemp plants that are grown for food, and all of them contain about 0.001 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This means you can eat as much hemp as you want and you’ll never have to worry about getting high or failing a drug test. Although certain states have begun to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the last couple of years, the hemp seeds you can find at your grocery or health food store were likely grown in Canada or China.

Hemp plants grow brown popcorn kernel-sized hard seeds. Inside these hard seeds lie soft, white or light green inner kernels that are packed with essential amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can’t really derive a lot of nutritional value from the unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag at the store labeled “hemp seeds,” what you’re actually buying is those soft inner kernels, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a byproduct that can be turned into hemp protein powder. You can find all of these hemp products at health food stores, or a well-stocked grocery store like Whole Foods.

Eating shelled hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, is as simple as sprinkling a spoonful or two into smoothies or on top of cereal, salads, or yogurt, says Kelly Saunderson of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, the world’s largest hemp foods manufacturer. People with gluten sensitivity can use hemp seeds as a substitute for breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish. Just like you can blend almonds and water to make almond milk, you can do the same with hemp seeds for hemp seed milk, which you can use as an alternative to dairy milk in drinks and recipes. And because of its nutty flavor, hemp seeds make a great substitute for people with nut allergies—you can dry-toast them over low heat to bring out even more of that nuttiness.

Hemp seed oil should be used as a finishing oil, rather than a cooking or frying oil, since the delicate omega fatty acids will break down during the cooking process, stripping the oil of its nutritional benefits. Instead, use it to make salad dressings, or drizzle over pasta, grilled veggies, or popcorn.

Hemp seeds are considered one of the most valuable plant-based proteins out there. Here's what you need to know about how to eat them.

Creative and Delicious Ways to Use Hemp Hearts

You probably already sprinkle Hemp Hearts on your salads and blend them into your smoothies, but did you know you can do so much more with them?

These eight delicious ways to use Hemp Hearts will inspire you to get creative in the kitchen and add Hemp Hearts to all your meals!

1. Nut-Free Spread

You can blend Hemp Hearts with Hemp Oil to make a nut-free Hemp Butter. If you want to sweeten it up you can add maple syrup for Maple Hemp Butter or add cocoa powder for Chocolate Hemp Butter. All three options taste great on toast, as a dip for fruit, or as a peanut butter substitute in your favourite recipes.

2. Oat Replacement

If you don’t want to use oats but want to make some tasty apple crisp, porridge, cookies, or any other recipe that normally uses oats, try replacing them with Hemp Hearts instead! We love this Grain-Free Porridge and these No Bake N’Oatmeal Fudge Bars from Healthful Pursuit.

3. Crusting for Meat & Fish

Instead of using pre-packaged crusted meat and fish, make your own with some spices and Hemp Hearts. It’s simple to do and it adds a nice crunchy texture. Our favourites are Hemp Crusted Salmon and Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets (kids love these!).

4. Creamy Dairy-Free Sauce

If you want to make a creamy salad dressing or pasta sauce but you don’t want to use dairy, blend a few tablespoons of Hemp Hearts into the recipe. We like this Ginger Hemp Dressing from Eating Bird Food and this Avocado Hemp Crema (it’s great on fish tacos!) from HealthNut Nutrition.

5. Dairy-Free Milk

Whether you have a dairy allergy, are vegan, or just prefer non-dairy milk, Hemp Milk is a perfect alternative that goes great in smoothies, cereal, or just on it’s own. You can purchase Hemp Bliss from our website (in Canada only) or if you prefer you can make your own Homemade Hemp Milk

6. Sneak Protein & Omegas into Kids’ Meals

If you have a picky eater that isn’t fond of healthy foods, sneak some Hemp Hearts into their meals! You can add some to any of their favourite foods like smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal, or bake them into treats like cookies, muffins, or donuts.

7. Homemade Veggie Burgers

Add Hemp Hearts to any homemade veggie burger recipe for a boost of protein and omegas. Try our Hemp Veggie Burgers or these Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers from HealthNut Nutrition. You can also add Hemp Hearts to regular beef or turkey burgers to keep them together instead of breadcrumbs.

8. Nut Substitute

You can use Hemp Hearts instead of nuts in almost any recipe like granola, trail mix, muffins, and more. They’re a great alternative since lots of offices and schools don’t allow nuts in their facility. Try our Sugar-Free Banana Hemp Granola, it’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack!

We hope these ideas get you inspired to start cooking with Hemp Hearts! Which one are you going to try first?

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You probably already sprinkle Hemp Hearts on your salads and blend them into your smoothies, but did you know you can do so much more with them?