Small Steps: Buy Hemp Seeds! / by Kelsey Vlamis

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Is it just me, or does January seem to be the time for crash diets that are often too difficult to keep up or too restricting to help you develop lasting habits?

As an antithesis of the crash diet trend, I’m recommending small steps that can be incorporated one at a time into your diet, making it that much easier to turn that small step into a sustainable habit.

For most of us, eating healthy doesn’t happen overnight, which is why so many extreme diets don’t result in a longterm change. My healthy diet came from years of slow exposure to new foods and ideas, until one day I looked back and realized my diet had changed so much that it was hardly recognizable from how I used to eat. It happened so gradually it was painless, almost effortless, which is why it worked.

One small step you can take towards eating healthier?

Buy hemp seeds!

Shelled hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, are a simple way to add some crunch and nutrients to your diet. They’re the seeds of the hemp plant, which is also the plant that marijuana comes from, but they don’t contain any THC, the active ingredient that makes you “high.”

You can find them at most grocery stores, online and in some bulk departments. They can be found on Amazon, at this link. I buy them in bulk and store some in an easily accessible jar that I refill as I go through it. I recommend storing them in a very visible place, at least at first, so you remember to start using them. There are two main reasons why hemp seeds are so useful in a healthy diet: protein and practicality.

A blueberry almond smoothie, made with hemp seeds and topped with hemp seeds (all the way on the right).

A blueberry almond smoothie, made with hemp seeds and topped with hemp seeds (all the way on the right).

Protein

One tablespoon of hemp seeds contains about 10 g of protein (an egg only has 6 g!). Not only that, they’re a complete protein—meaning, they contain all the essential amino acids your body requires—something many people erroneously think is exclusive to animal sources. I only loosely monitor my protein intake, but as a mostly plant-based eater, I know my consumption of hemp seeds plays an important role. If you are trying to consume less meat, the addition of hemp seeds can definitely help.

Practicality

Hemp seeds are easily one of the most used ingredients in my kitchen. I sprinkle them on almost everything I eat. They add a little crunch, but also just a nice boost of protein, in addition to other nutrients. More useful even, is the fact that as long as I have hemp seeds, which keep for a long time, I can make a quick nut milk in minutes. Don’t have nut milk on hand but want a smoothie? A “cream" sauce? A latte? Start with hemp seeds!

hemp seeds yogurt bowl
hemp seeds matcha

How to Use

As a topping:
Sprinkle generously on bowls, salads, soups, toast, smoothies, yogurt bowls, scrambled eggs… literally anything!

As a quick nut milk:
Blend 1 cup of water with 2-4 tbsp hemp seeds, adding more or less depending on desired thickness. That’s it, no straining required! There will be a small amount of sediment but I find it negligible. But, you may strain it through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth if desired. You could also add some sweetener (like honey, maple syrup or a date) and extract (vanilla or almond), depending on intended use.

To start a smoothie:
Blend 1 cup of water with 1-2 tbsp of hemp seeds (more/less as desired). This is your “milk” base. Add the rest of your ingredients and blend! I like frozen banana, frozen blueberries, frozen cauliflower/zucchini, almond butter and almond extract.

For a creamy latte:
Add hot drink of choice (coffee, matcha, other tea) to blender with 1-3 tbsp hemp seeds (more/less as desired), plus anything else you’d like (sweetener, cinnamon, etc.) and blend! There will be a small amount of sediment but I find it negligible. You may strain if desired.

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hemp seeds bowl

As always, feel free to ask me any questions, either here or via instagram. And if you have an idea or something you’re curious about as a healthy “small step,” let me know!