When I think of hemp, that cult hand cream from The Body Shop everyone had in their lockers in high school comes to mind. It was stinky, but pretty good at moisturizing super dry hands. And, it had the ‘cool’ stamp of approval since it contained hemp, something that made it feel illicit.
The confusion between hemp and cannabis (or marijuana) is pretty common. Unlike the drug, which contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids, hemp is industrially produced and typically refined into usable products including seeds, oil, wax, resin, fuel and fibers like cloth and paper. It’s pretty versatile.
Mettrum Originals was one of the first hemp food brands in Canada. Working with Health Canada to determine the legality of cultivating this controversial plant as far back as 1993, they were also one of the first companies to introduce hemp seed flour for baking.
So why should we be eating hemp?
“Hemp is rich in fiber and a complete plant-based protein to keep you full and aid in digestion,” says Melissa Ramos, a Toronto area Nutritionist. “It’s also got the right fat combination with anti-inflammatory omega 3’s and hormone-balancing GLA’s.”
“Simply put, hemp should be in everyone’s home.“
To dive deeper, we spoke to Andrea Donsky, a holistic nutritionist and hemp enthusiast to get some tips on easy ways to incorporate hemp into our diets.
“Hemp oil, which is extracted from the hemp plant, is not only a healthy and delicious option, it’s also super versatile,” Donsky explains.
She suggests using it as a flavor enhancer in marinades and salad dressings or to simply drizzle a little on pasta, fish or roasted potatoes. It can also be used in place of olive oil when making things like pesto for more of a nutty flavour, and for a boost of essential fatty acids (omegas 6 and 3).
These are probably the easiest to incorporate into your diet. I personally sprinkle them on salad to make it look fancier but Donsky says that it also can help slow down digestion.
“Hemp seeds contain essential fatty acids (omegas 6 and 3), all the amino acids important for human health, protein and fiber to help slow digestion and provide long lasting energy – something everyone could use during the busy holiday season,” Donsky says. As well as salads, she suggests adding them to your favorite cookie, muffin or even pancake recipes.
Made from ground up hemp seeds, hemp flour is a great way to boost the healthy factor when you’re baking.
“Substitute anywhere from five to 25 per cent of the total flour called for in the recipe with hemp flour,” suggests Donsky. Packed with protein and fiber it will make that guilty pleasure just a little bit less indulgent.