The latest trend in hemp? Cooking with it. Yes, really.
Introducing hemp into your culinary repertoire can add unexpected flavor, and possibly even a few health benefits, to your favorite dishes. High in fiber and rich in antioxidants, hemp products derive from a specific variety of cannabis sativa plant. You can consume it either in seed or oil form, and it’s also processed into flour, protein powder and other ingredients that can easily be incorporated into recipes.
And because hemp seeds don’t naturally contain THC (the compound in marijuana that creates a “high” or feeling of intoxication), consumers don’t have to worry about psychoactive effects, making hemp safe for kids and even pets to enjoy.
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Here are a few suggestions on how to liven up your cooking with hemp.
Sowing the seeds
You can think of hemp seeds in much the same way as you would their sesame seed, poppy seed or sunflower seed counterparts. Lightly toasted or raw, they can conveniently be sprinkled onto salads, hummus or avocado toast to add a crunchy textural component. Hemp seeds are also an unexpectedly pleasant addition to smoothies, granola, muffins and other baked goods; they’re also an easy sub for pine nuts in your favorite pesto.
Hearts and flours
Produced by removing oil from the seeds and grinding them to a fine consistency, the resulting high-protein hemp flour is much denser than standard varieties.
For this reason, it works best when combined with all-purpose or self-rising flour for breads, cookies and cakes to provide flavor and health benefits while still maintaining a light, airy crumb structure.
Time for an oil change
Cold-pressed hemp seed oil offers a delicate nutty flavor, perfect for a salad dressing or for drizzling over roasted vegetables. It can be used for cooking purposes as well, but because it has such a low smoke point, it’s more appropriate for quick sautés and stir fries than deep frying.
Cream of the crop
Often flavored with vanilla or chocolate and high in omega fatty acids, hemp milk is a vegan, dairy-free alternative to soy, almond and cashew varieties. Try it over cereal, in a latte or icy cold straight up with warm cookies.
Hemp products are usually available at health food stores, online and even at some major grocery stores.