Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Product Review: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

I recently attended VidaVeganCon 2013 (have I mentioned that? maybe) and, even as a lowly volunteer, came home loaded down with all manner of lovely, tasty, all-vegan food samples.

One of my carefully hoarded samples was a little bag of Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts that I couldn't WAIT to start using! What, exactly, are "hemp hearts", you ask?

Well, (since you asked) they are delicious, super-nutritious, yummy, little, raw, shelled hemp seeds filled with a fantastic amount of protein and some good fats.
Now, boys and girls; I hope we're all educated past the point of making hemp jokes. Get over yourself, consuming hemp seeds is not going to make you high or start craving Doritos. Yes, hemp seeds come from the plant Cannabis sativa. But there are many strains of this plant, with varying levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana).
Not to worry (if, indeed, these things worry you), the industrial variety of hemp used for oil, fiber, milk, edible seeds, etc., contains only a minuscule, almost unmeasurable amount of THC. And better yet, the progressive folks in Canada did their research and found that drug tests did not confuse hemp consumption with marijuana use, nor did hemp products create the "high" associated with marijuana. The US is still somewhat backwards in their understanding and value of hemp products, so it's still illegal to grow in the US. Go figure. That's fine, we have companies like Manitoba Harvest doing a really great job.
But you knew all that.

And, of course you know that hemp seeds are SUPER good for you, right? You know they are easily digestible and contain all nine of the essential amino acids, right?
You also know that they have more essential fatty acid (good fats) than flax or any other nut or seed, and a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 - good for your cardiovascular health and strengthening your immune system.

And, you also knew that hemp seeds are a rich source of phytonutrients, the stuff that protects your immune system, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria. Good, you've been reading up on the benefits too!

All those wonderful benefits aside, hemp seeds, or in this case, hemp hearts, are actually really versatile and tasty, too! They have a soft-texture and taste like a cross between raw sunflower seeds and mild pine nuts (to me anyway).

Hemp hearts on cooked multi-grain
cereal, with cranberries!
Serving suggestions include sprinkling over salad, cereal or yogurt, (oatmeal topped with hemp is my FAVORITE!) but there is SO MUCH more you can do with these things!

So, as I said,  (if you're still with me) I hoarded my precious little bag of hemp seeds (because they are completely impossible to find around my tiny, backwoods, part of the world) but really wanted to experiment with them on a larger scale, too!
Well, the fine folks at Manitoba Harvest came to my rescue, sending me a full size bag of hemp hearts to cook with and blog about - and I have been cooking up a storm with them ever since.
I've used shelled hemp in cooking for years, (two of my favorite recipes are Hemp Seed Pesto and Holiday Granola) but I really love these Manitoba Harvest seeds because they're more tender and seem to be "shelled" better than the bulk-bin variety I used to drive an hour to find... I love these little seeds SO, SO MUCH!!
I do have a new recipe for you too, if you've followed along this far. It's a really tasty version of tabbouleh that showcases the mild nuttiness of the hemp hearts, requires no cooking (or soaking bulghur wheat) AND is gluten free. Enjoy!

Hemp Heart Tabbouleh

Hemp heart tabbouleh

1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts
1 large bunch curly parsley, chopped very fine
3-4 leaves kale (either variety), chopped fine
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh mint
2 large tomatoes, chopped small-ish
1 bunch green onions, sliced (use as much green as you like)
6 Tablespoons good olive oil

3 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
pinch dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
*optional - 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

Mix hemp hearts with finely chopped parsley, kale, mint, tomatoes and onions.
Blend olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and dill in blender or food processor until blended. Pour dressing over salad, mix well, chill several hours to allow flavors to blend, taste and add more salt if needed - 
and serve.


M. said...

As a nutrition buff I must say that flax _is_ better as far as omega-3's go, the more the better, as you get an excess of omega-6's anyway. But hemp contains a rare longer-chain omega-3 called stearidonic acid (SDA), so for some people who don't convert ALA well it might be better. And there's some GLA as well.

But hemp is super nutritious anyway, and tasty! I try to eat it every day. I wonder why I've never thought of making tabbouleh with it, especially since I have to eat fairly low-carb and the original version is out for me. Something I'll have to fix!

Nancy Rose Eisman said...

I got my Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts at Camp Blogaway and love them too. They're sprinkled on my breakfast parfait du jour most every morning (when I have one). Thanks for sharing your recipe ideas!