Cannabis isn’t only good for its mystical, magical buds. Though marijuana flowers are perhaps the most lucrative part of the cannabis plant, there is another product that derives from cannabis that humankind has been benefiting from for centuries: the seeds. More often called hemp hearts, the seeds of the cannabis plant are incredibly nutrient-dense and qualify as a super-food. Most often, hemp hearts are sourced from industrial hemp, which by law must contain less than .3 percent THC; as a result, hemp seeds typically contain no THC whatsoever.
It is easy to recognize the benefits of eating hemp hearts — but how should you go about doing it? Here are a few tips for integrating hemp hearts into any diet.
Add Crunch to Almost Anything
While hemp hearts can provide a nutty flavor, they are more or less beloved primarily for their texture. Chewy and even crunchy if just slightly roasted, the seeds of the hemp plant don’t drastically change the mouthfeel of foods, but they do add some textural interest that can transform the experience of eating certain, texture-less foods. Admittedly, thanks to their mild flavor, hemp hearts can be successfully sprinkled on any food, but here are some of the most common and best places to use hemp hearts to add crunch:
Cereal. Cereal has a tendency to get soggy and a bit lacking in texture after sitting for a few seconds in milk, and hot cereals, like oatmeal or cream of wheat, have even less going on in the texture department. Because hemp seeds won’t get soggy when exposed to moisture, they can add some pop and crunch to make your mornings a bit more special. Plus, hemp seeds add some valuable protein and nutrition to what otherwise tends to be a sugar- and carb-heavy meal.
Yogurt. Some like the silk- smooth texture of yogurt, but most like to add various mix-ins to their probiotic treat. In addition to fruits like berries and bananas, you should consider adding hemp hearts, which are easier to digest and inarguably more delectable than flax seeds.
Salads. Salads are vastly improved by elements that are not leafy vegetables. Mix-ins like dried fruit, nuts, croutons and (you guessed it) hemp hearts provide different textures and flavors to make salads tastier and more interesting. You can mix hemp seeds into salad dressings, or you can toss a handful on top of your salad after your croutons.
Pizza. Regardless of your stance on additional sauces, like ranch or barbecue sauce, you might be interested in the idea of sprinkling some hemp hearts on your next slice. You can add seeds to just the crust or to the entire pie, much as you would parmesan cheese or red pepper flakes. In addition to texture, the seeds will boost the healthiness of your slice, perhaps making you feel better about your cheat meal.
Ice cream. There is no shame in indulging in a sweet treat every now and then, but if you want to add some interest to your ice cream, you can put hemp hearts on top — just like you might with chopped peanuts on a sundae. Hemp hearts on ice cream provide a delightful crunch, and as with other items on this list, boost the nutrition of the dish considerably.
Blend Hemp Hearts In
If you want the nutrition and nuttiness without the texture, you can always blend hemp hearts into your culinary creations. Small amounts of hemp seeds won’t add much flavor, but there are ways to bump up the nuttiness of hemp hearts if you do want to deepen your recipes. Here are two of the best ways to blend hemp hearts into your meals:
Pasta Sauce. Raw, hemp hearts have almost no flavor at all, but you can increase the nuttiness of the seeds with a quick roast in the oven. Then, added to red or white pasta sauce (and blended if the texture isn’t desired) the hearts create a warm, earthy flavor that can deepen the sauce and provide more interest in the final product. This is an easy way to increase the complexity of boring, store-bought pasta sauces.
Smoothies. Smoothies are the easiest health food to make at home, requiring only some fruits, some ice and a blender. However, you can boost the nutrients of smoothies by diversifying ingredients, adding things like spinach, parsley or various kinds of seeds, like hemp hearts. Because the seeds get blended in with everything else, you won’t feel their crunch, but you can add some more on top if you do like some texture.
Hemp hearts should be a staple of your pantry. Easier to digest and healthier than most other seeds, hemp hearts can go on or in almost anything. The sooner you buy a bag, the sooner you will start to appreciate their versatility.