If you haven’t already heard, the new Canadian Food Guide draft is out and it’s down one food group – dairy. With more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, dairy has taken a back seat. There is a growing number of milk alternatives available – rice, almond, buckwheat, quinoa, soy just to name a few, though each pre-packaged milk alternative comes with its pros and cons (see Milk Alternatives – Finding The Best One For You and Almond Milk – Is It Worth Going Nuts For? ) Hemp seeds have been back on the Canadian market since 1998 and are only just being introduced to Australia and New Zealand. If you haven’t considered hemp milk yet now is the time! This homemade Hemp Milk Recipe is packed full of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Bonus points for simplicity – no straining required.
“Hemp seeds contain all 8 essential amino acids making it comparable to animal protein. One glass of homemade hemp milk contains more protein than a glass of cow’s milk”
A major downfall to most milk alternatives is the protein content. Even store bought hemp milk doesn’t compare to the real thing. One glass of homemade hemp milk provides 10g of protein (almost as much as 2 eggs). In comparison, one cup of cow’s milk contains 8g of protein, soy milk has 6g and almond milk has 1g. Protein is essential for metabolic function and optimal muscle growth and it is best utilized when spread out evenly throughout the day. This means the average person should be aiming for 15-20g of protein per meal. What does this look like? Try one cup of your homemade hemp milk with a quinoa porridge and a portion of nuts for breakfast and you’re set!
Protein Content Comparison of Milk and Milk Alternatives
- 1 cup homemade Hemp Milk – 10g protein
- 1 cup Cow’s Milk – 8g protein
- 1 cup Soy Milk – 6g protein
- 1 cup store bought Hemp Milk – 1.5g protein
- 1 cup store bought Almond Milk – 1g protein
Another benefit to hemp milk is the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (LNA) content. Growing research has linked omega-3 deficiency to impaired visual and brain development, and neurological disorders. For those who are not consuming oily fish at least two times per week, one glass of homemade hemp milk contains 8g of omega-3 fatty acid (LNA) – recommended intake on a 2,000 calorie diet is at least 2.7g to 5.5g LNA per day.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, hemp seeds are sustainable. No longer do we need to ship almonds from drought-ridden California, or soybeans from deforested South America as hemp is grown right here on Canadian soil. Another point for sustainability is that the hemp plant can out-compete weeds and generally does not require herbicides. In Canada Manitoba Harvest provides the bulk of our food hemp and they are committed to advocating for the use of hemp as food products around the world.
If you have replaced your milk with a non-dairy milk alternative it is easy enough to reach your calcium recommendations if you follow a varied diet. I am a big promoter of non-dairy calcium sources, and I think it is important that health professionals are conscious of the high prevalence of lactose intolerance in our growing multi-ethnic population. In the past I have written How To Get Enough Calcium On A Dairy Free Diet and 10 Surprisingly Non-Dairy Sources Of Calcium to help guide a nutritionally adequate dairy-free diet.
Homemade Hemp Milk
Hemp Milk is a great milk-alternative and can be used in smoothies, with granola, or as a drink on its own. It has a nice earthy flavour and if desired can be sweetened naturally with the addition of a date or some raw honey or real maple syrup.
- 3/4 cup hemp hearts raw
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract pure
- 1/8 tsp salt optional
Add hemp seeds and water to a high speed blender, along with vanilla and salt if using.
Blend until the seeds are broken up and a creamy milk is produced.
Store in a glass jar with a secure lid for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Less hemp hearts can be used in the recipe, it will just result in a less creamy milk.
Use leftover hemp heart meal and use in your next morning porridge, add to muffins, or bake into crackers.