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Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 12:01 am

Hemp seed recipes

Hemp-crusted chicken.
PHOTO BY ASHLEY MEYER
Last month Governor Rauner signed a bill that will allow Illinois farmers to begin growing and processing industrial hemp. This is exciting news for farmers like Chad Wallace of Oak Tree Organics, a small family farm in Ashland. Wallace sells pasture-raised pork and organic produce to local restaurants and at the Old State Capitol Farmers Market. He’s glad to have the opportunity to add an additional revenue stream to his farm. “It’s not too often that a new industry comes along, so I figured I better jump on it. There’s a lot of demand out there – I’m hoping it can be a reason for my kids to come back to the farm.”

Regulations are still being hammered out, but Wallace is planning to plant two test plots next spring: one will be dedicated to production of fiber and seed, the other for extraction of CBD oil, which is used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes.

Hemp has been used to make textiles for thousands of years and was grown throughout the Midwest in the early part of the 20th century. It has hundreds of uses and can be made into products ranging from cooking oil, rope, plastic, biofuel, animal feed and fabric. I once saw a hemp wedding gown that took my breath away.

It’s also good to eat. Hemp seeds are packed with nutrition. Three tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds contain 10 grams of nutritionally complete protein containing all 10 essential amino acids and only one gram of carbohydrates. Their nutritional profile reads like that of a multivitamin supplement, serving up hearty doses of iron, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese. The seed can also be pressed into nutrient-rich oil.

Despite its usefulness and versatility, it has been illegal to cultivate hemp in the United States since 1970 when the Controlled Substances Act was passed. Hemp was included in the ban because it is derived from the same species as marijuana. This is in spite of the fact that, unlike its bad boy cousin, hemp will not get you high. It contains only minuscule amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in pot.  Conventional marijuana contains between 5-15 percent THC, whereas hemp products contain less than 0.3 percent THC. You can put hemp in your pipe and smoke it, but all you’re going to get is a cough and a headache.

I decided I needed to try some hemp seed for myself, so I headed to my local health food store and picked up a bag of Hemp Hearts – shelled hemp seeds imported from Canada. The little beige kernels looked a bit like sesame seeds with an extremely mild flavor that was reminiscent of sunflower seeds. I added a half cup to a batch of pancakes, which went completely unnoticed by my 6-year-old. They were a natural addition to my morning bowl of fruit and yogurt and nicely bumped up a garden salad at dinnertime. Their pleasant nuttiness makes it easy to incorporate them into just about anything and they are an excellent way to add a little extra nutrition into everyday meals. Hopefully it won’t be long before I’ll be able to pick up a bag of hemp seeds from my farmers market, grown right here in Illinois.

Folks interested in hemp production are invited to an Industrial Hemp Victory Party hosted by Chad Wallace and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance on Oct. 12 at Oak Tree Farm. Guests will receive information about industrial hemp production, the regulatory process and more. For more information and to RSVP to the event, go to http://ilstewards.org/industrial-hemp-victory-party-october-12th/.

HEMP-CRUSTED CHICKEN

1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ teaspoon salt  
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ cup shelled hemp seed
½ cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon each minced parsley and chives
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and place in a mixing bowl. Combine the Hemp Hearts, parmesan, minced herbs, garlic powder and crushed red pepper, if using. Dredge the mayonnaise-coated chicken thighs in the Hemp Heart mixture to coat and place on baking tray.

Bake for about twenty minutes until golden brown and crispy.

HEMP SEED ENERGY BITES

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup almonds
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup shelled hemp seed, plus more for rolling  
1 cup pitted medjool dates (not the pre-chopped kind)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until firm, then scoop out tablespoon-sized balls and roll them in hemp seeds to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve to keep them firm. Keeps for two weeks in the fridge or six months in the freezer.

HEMP SEED HUMMUS

¼ cup shelled hemp seed
¼ cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1 can chickpeas, liquid drained and reserved
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon paprika, optional

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the reserved bean juice as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve with chips and cut veggies or use as a sandwich spread.

Contact Ashley Meyer at ashley@realcuisine.net

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