Haven’t tasted hemp yet? You’re in for a treat. While all eyes have been fixed on hemp-derived CBD, dietary hemp has gone relatively unnoticed.
Variously described as grassy, green, nutty and earthy, hemp’s hidden power is in its nutritional density. It’s a veritable powerhouse of goodness. Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, offer a high-quality source of protein — even more so than comparable foods like chia seeds and flax seeds. They’re incredibly rich in two essential fatty acids that the body can’t produce: omega-3 and omega-6, which can reduce the risk of disease and inflammation. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in hemp seed oil is generally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health. And to sum up this hemp humble-brag, hemp seeds contain all 21 amino acids, along with minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
So the natural question is: what should you do with hemp seeds? You can snack on them raw, for starters. Throw them in green smoothies. You can cook with them, roast them, or purchase a pressed hemp-seed oil that can be drizzled over whatever your heart desires. We talked to Shadi Ramey, a culinary anthropologist and plant-based chef, grower, and innovator of all things hemp, to learn even more about eating this versatile plant.
“Hemp hit my radar in 2014 when a friend told me about someone making hemp coffee,” says Ramey. Ramey visited the farm where the hemp was grown, and was inspired to grow hemp on her own one-acre urban farm north of Boulder, Colorado, the following season.
“It was when I started spending time with hemp on a daily basis, that I began experimenting with hemp food on a deep level,” explains Ramey. “I started experimenting with all the edible parts of the plant: the leaves, flower, hemp seeds, and hemp-seed oil.”
One thing led to another, and she began creating edible, plant-based hemp body care in the form of Satya Kama Cream. She’s now reached her fourth year of hemp cultivation, with her passion leading her to author a hemp cookbook due to be released in late spring 2020, titled Hemp: Feed Your Vibe. Ramey brings her expertise in hemp cuisine as a plant-based chef to diners of all ages at farm-to-table dinners, special events, and private cooking classes.
For the hemp neophyte, Ramey recommends starting with hemp hearts. “They’re super nutty and crunchy, and add a great texture to everyday dishes, like salads,” she says. For the more seasoned connoisseur, Ramey recommends pairing hemp with mushroom, as the flavors complement each other. “l also love hemp hearts with açaí,” she says. “It’s a double-whammy superfood high-vibe nutritional punch!”
Ramey has spent the past few years exploring ways to cook creatively with hemp. One winning recipe is her hemp baklava, which has many fans. Ramey doesn’t shy away from cooking with hemp in more robust dishes, either.
“I love making main dishes with hemp hearts, like my mushroom walnut hemp loaf with hemp shiitake gravy,” Ramey says, adding, “Not to brag, but my hemp lions-mane chili is 100 percent plant-based and off the hook!” While Ramey’s hemp cookbook will offer inspiration and ideas aplenty, she encourages everyone to explore ways to “feed their vibe” by incorporating hemp into their daily lives.
“Hemp is one of the best foods we can incorporate into our diet”, says Ramey. “Finding creative ways to eat hemp daily offers a real opportunity to empower oneself and elevate your individual nutrition.”
Before you fill your cupboards with hemp seeds, however, it’s important to be discerning about where your hemp is from. Hemp is a phytoremediator, which means it siphons up contaminants and pollutants from the soil. Helpful for the land, but not so great if you’re eating hemp that has been grown in tainted earth. Purchasing USDA-certified organic hemp provides reassurance that the hemp has been cultivated with organic nutrients,, and is pesticide and chemical-free. “As with all things food-related, I believe it is imperative to choose the best hemp products you can find,” says Ramey. “Organic should be the standard. Choose wisely and eat often.”