Another installment in the "It's what's for dinner" series of posts. We've probably all heard of hemp seeds and snickered - dirty hippies, expensive health food stores, patchouli etc.
When my local grocer offered me a free sample a few months ago, I laughed, "What am I going to do with hempseeds, besides make you rich?" I looked at the sample to humor him and was about to hand it back when the nutrition information caught my eye: 4 tbsp = 22 grams of protein and 40% of your daily recommended iron intake. Wait a second. That's not bad...in fact that's pretty darn good (especially with the iron...if you're on a low or no meat diet, iron is something you need to consciously consume everyday).
I'm a notorious cheap skate and I can't remember why, but $2 is a number that sticks in my head as being a good price for a serving of protein (you'll pay a heck of a lot more for chicken, beef or fish). The one pound bags my grocer was selling were going for $13 a piece. Seems pricey until you do the math: Each bag has 7.5 servings of protein which means each serving costs roughly $1.75. Cha-ching. But there's more.
Excited about the possibilites of incorporating hemp seed hearts into my diet, I did some background reading and I learned some pretty incredible things:
A Complete Protein - Hemp is one of the few plant proteins that is complete - that means it contains all of your essential amino acids - the basic building blocks of protein. Amino acids also play a key role in general biochemistry, and a deficiency can have serious health impacts.
No Pesticides or Herbicides - Hemp is a fast growing hardy plant that does not require pesticides or herbicides. For all intensive purposes the crop is organic (which is why I feel comfortable not buying "organic" hemp seeds).
Canadian and Sustainable - Hemp is grown right here on the Canadian prairies. Nice and close, and a crop that yields not only nutritious seeds, but also fibres for everything from paper making to hemp clothing. Using hemp as an alternative fibre and food source takes pressure off our forests and replaces more environmentally destructive forms of protein production such as the meat industry, where enormous fossil fuel inputs are required (growing the grain to feed animals in the first place) not to mention the very real climate change impacts of the methane released when cows pass gas (cows in the U.S. account for 20% of methane emissions in that country, and methane lives in our atmosphere 20 times as long as carbon dioxide).
Omega O-Mazing - When it comes to getting your Omega's, hemp is through the roof. Lot's of Omega 3's and 6's to keep your heart and brain happy and healthy.
As for actually consuming hemp seed hearts, they are TASTY! A really nice nutty flavour (I eat them right out of the bag with a spoon after a workout). My favourite modus operandi these days is making a pancake and covering it with 4 tbsp of hemp seeds, blueberries and maple syrup...it's killer and will keep you going strong until lunch.
Hemp seed hearts. They're what's for dinner.