Whether you're asking the first or the second question, hemp can be part of the answer. Hemp is a super plant if there ever was one, and it's a damn shame that hemp production was banned in the US in early 1900's because of the greedy private interests of companies like Dupont, whose petroleum-based plastic products were threatened by hemp, and timber companies who saw big bucks in logging and milling, rather than producing paper from fast-growing hemp. There are plenty of interesting articles on the topic here, here, and here for starters.
What I didn't know until recently was that hemp is also an unbeatable protein source. It's a complete protein (all 10 essential amino acids), is less acidic than other proteins (helping to keep the body in an alkaline state), and as it is consumed raw and unprocessed, its enzymes are in tact making it easier on the digestive system. Additionally, since its a plant protein, it doesn't come with all the added fat, cholesterol, blood, death, and animal suffering. (Sorry, you know I have to throw that stuff in there from time to time!)
Finally, according to Thrive, the Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, "A high-quality complete protein such as hemp is instrumental not only in muscle and tissue regeneration but also fat metabolism. Protein, once ingested, instigates the release of a hormone that enables the body to more easily utilize its fat reserves, which in turn will improve endurance and facilitate loss of body fat."
So now that you know about hemp, how do you incorporate it into your diet? Lucky for all of us, it's tasty and can go in just about anything. Just 3 Tablespoons have 10 grams of protein, not to mention 30% of your daily iron needs.
Here are a few ideas to get you started, I keep some in a small container on the counter for easy access. Add a few tablespoons:
- In your favourite smoothie
- On your favourite cereal or hot oatmeal
- As a garnish on soup - I like it on all of these
- In place of, or in addition to, the nuts in pesto
- Mixed into raw energy bars or balls
- Sprinkled on top of a big salad
- Blended into guacamole
- Blended into your favourite dressing
The list goes on and on. Go nuts! Put it in everything and see how you feel. Buy in bulk for the best price and do the math - you're getting a lot of bang for you buck. I bought this big 2.27kg jug for about 50 bucks. At 30 grams per serving, that's 75 servings, or 67¢ per serving. 67¢ for 10 grams of protein seems pretty reasonable to me.