Plant-Powered Foods: Hemp Seeds

We often hear the term “super food”, and often it seems it might be some food that is exotic and too expensive to use.  The term is used to label foods that are particularly nutrient-rich.  So, while some super foods might be more obscure, there are many that have become quite common – for instance leafy greens like kale and chard, chia seeds, quinoa, dark chocolate, and – hemp seeds.

I began experimenting with hemp seeds soon after they broke out in the Canadian market, around ten years ago.  I was writing my second cookbook, Vive le Vegan!, and began using hemp seeds in my recipes for that book.  I learned that hemp seeds are mighty little things, delivering: complete protein, essential fatty acids, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals, an almost perfect balance of the essential fatty acids!

Fine with the stats.  But how do they taste?.. and what do they look like?  Hemp seeds resemble sesame seeds, but with a rounder shape, greenish tint, and with a much softer texture.  They taste somewhat like sunflower seeds, but with a slight earthier and sweeter flavor.  From hemp seeds, hemp nut butter can be made (just as almond butter is made from almonds).  The nut butter has a distinctive greenish color (from the chlorophyll), and again has a taste somewhat similar to sunflower seed butter.  Hemp oil, flour, and protein powders are also produced from the seeds.  I’m personally not a fan of the protein powder straight up, and haven’t experimented much with hemp flour.  While I have used (and like) hemp seed oil, I prefer consuming hemp in their whole seed form (or as nut butter), since the protein from the seeds is lost in oil form.

Hemp nut butter also makes a simple substitute in nut butter/jam sandwiches, and is particularly helpful for school lunches where nut and peanut allergies are present in schools (hemp has a very low allergenic risk).  Since hemp butter is not as naturally sweet as a nut butter like almond or cashew butter, try stirring a few shakes of cinnamon into your jar of hemp butter as well as a drizzle of maple syrup.  Then, it is already sweetened to add to sandwiches. While I use hemp nut butter occasionally (and also in recipes), I use hemp seeds quite regularly since they can be conveniently added to our daily foods.   Some of the simplest ways you can add hemp seeds directly to your foods include:

  • stir into non-dairy yogurt
  • add to cold cereals and granola
  • stir into warm oatmeal
  • add to batters for pancakes, muffins, quick breads, and even cookies!
  • sprinkle on salads and soups
  • blend into shakes and smoothies
  • toss into cooked grains and/or grain and bean salad mixes
AND, one of my other favorite ways to eat hemp seeds is in – “Spicoli Burgers“.  Have you tried these yet?  I think it’s time!  They’re easy to make, and a definite favorite with my readers.  Give them a try!

From "eat, drink & be vegan"

What is YOUR favorite way to eat hemp seeds?


    • Dreena says

      Chris, you can buy “shelled” hemp seeds, these are usually easiest to buy, but some health food stores carry them in shells. Check with your store and ask for a specific brand like Manitoba Harvest. Hope that helps!

  1. Inga says

    I’ve recently ordered some hemp seeds and they came as little nuts, not possible to eat straight away.
    I tried to grind them with spice grinder, but the shells are still very annoying to eat.
    How to prepare them? Soak? Boil? Mill to flour? Are they normally so hard, or are they toasted?
    Would appreciate some dvice! Thanks..

    • Dreena says

      Inga, can you return the seeds? They shouldn’t be selling them to you as edible seeds with the shells intact. Most hemp varieties you can buy are shelled hemp seeds, but are typically just marketed as “hemp hearts” or “hemp seeds”, b/c we expect not to have to shell them!! I would try to return them, and get a proper shelled variety. Good luck.

  2. mekane says

    I’ve recently read a lot about hemp seeds and they sound like an amazing superfood! However, I was at my local natural food store and noticed they had small bags of it for like $12! I didn’t end up buying them since I got scared by the price. What’s the average amount you would use on a daily basis? If its not much then I could see it as an investment. Or is there a cheaper place to buy them online? Being a poor student I’m not always able to buy all the cool things at natural food store even thought i’d like to!

  3. says

    Fantastic profile of just about my favorite seeds! And I hope we’ve all tried the Spicoli burgers…they’re so delicious and nutrient dense!!

    • Dreena says

      Thanks Gena! You do some pretty magical things with hemp seeds yourself. :) Thanks for popping my my ‘new home’. :)

    • Dreena says

      Really? That’s awesome, thanks. I should get that recipe posted, now that you mention it. (p.s. you’re now like ladygaga to my blog) :)

  4. says

    are you going to be offering e-mail subscription on this blog too, or are you still going to be providing recipes to viveleveganrecipes?
    (if not, you can update the RSS source in your existing feedburners, and there will be no interruption in service for folks that subscribed that way.)

  5. says

    I LOVE your Spicoli Burgers! A nice substitution I’ve discovered is using quinoa in place of brown rice; they sometimes turn out a little more moist, necessitating more flour, but are still amazing and with more protein to boot!

    • Dreena says

      Thanks Vanessa – that’s a great idea too. I love using quinoa in veg burgers, but yes like you mention they are often softer/more moist. Sometimes a little ground chia helps too – what flour do you like best when you do that sub?


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