The seeds of hemp are hard and brown in colour, the size of a popcorn kernel. The soft white and light green part inside these seeds is what is referred to as hemp hearts. Without the outer shell, the overall percentage of essential vitamins, fatty acids and protein is concentrated in hemp hearts, making them an invaluable source of nutrition. Moreover, without the shell, the seed is lighter on the gut and easier to digest.
Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein and are slowly gaining fame for being an all-rounded and sustainable source of health. They provide all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks for all proteins. Since the human body cannot produce all of these required acids, a person must gain them through their diet.
Relatively, very few plant-based foods can provide a complete range of amino acids in protein, which makes hemp a valuable addition, especially to the lifestyle of a vegetarian or a vegan. An added advantage of using hemp hearts is that they are very easily and effortlessly incorporated into any recipe and can both supplement and complement other ingredients of the dish. This can be said to be the best part about hemp hearts: they are an incredibly versatile item to have in your kitchen.
Adding hulled hemp seeds or hemp hearts, to your diet can be as simple as using them to garnish yoghurt, cereal, khichdi or salads, sprinkling them on porridges and soup, or even blending them with water to make hemp milk, an easy and healthy alternative for vegans and lactose-intolerant people. You can flavour the milk with sweeteners and spices of your choice.
For those with gluten sensitivity, hemp hearts can be used as an alternative to breadcrumbs in recipes; to coat chicken or fish, make cutlets, add to spaghetti balls, or to transform the texture of any other dish. Owing to its nutty taste, hemp hearts act as great substitutes for nuts. By roasting them you can intensify their flavour and add some crunch.
Hemp hearts also complement baked goods, especially desserts like brownies, muffins, breads and oatmeal. They also taste great in Indian sweetmeats like barfi and laddoo. They can be whipped into smoothies, salad dressings, dips, pasta sauce, hummus and puddings, enhancing their taste in a nutritious and fun way. Sprinkling some tasty crunchy hemp seeds on toast is another simple way to add them to your breakfast. They taste great on toast with peanut butter or honey. Moreover, it always feels good knowing your food is not just delicious but also has more nutrients, protein and fibre than its conventional counterpart!
Hemp hearts are most commonly used to prepare raw energy bites. Hemp is a great choice to add to energy bars and granolas as it offers one huge benefit: it is light on the stomach but the healthy fats keep your stomach full for several hours. You can add dried fruits or honey as a binder to the granola and energy bars, to enhance the texture and sweeten the taste of the energy bites.
Another interesting way to innovate and experiment with hemp hearts is by making delicious and nutritious burger patties and nuggets, by combining them with grinded lentils or potatoes. They can also be roasted and used to make some baked falafels, stuffed with veggies and sauce. They are tasty, healthy and would be a fun addition to serve as appetisers at a party.
In a nutshell, add hemp hearts to any part of the meal when you want that extra kick of protein and essential nutrients. Just keep a bag of hemp hearts with you and keep experimenting! Hopefully these ideas would help you jumpstart experimenting with hemp hearts.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, there are a lot of innovative recipes on our website to get you started.