Hemp hearts are currently a hot topic and for good reason. They are an easy protein source, packed full of essential fatty acids, locally grown, and super versatile. I love hemp so much I’ve share my favorite milk alternative Hemp Milk, and a yummy nutrient-dense snack Hemp and Sunflower Seed Pâté in the past. This Vegan Ranch Dressing with Hemp is my new favourite way to incorporate hemp into my day. The creaminess of the hemp lends itself to this dressing, and there’s no reliance on any other nut or seed butter (tahini, I love you but I need a change). It’s a great salad dressing for those hearty cold weather salads. I love it with shredded kale, beets, and carrots on top of fluffy quinoa. Yum!
“Hemp hearts have a soft, creamy texture and also taste great sprinkled on salads, blended in a smoothie, or as an oatmeal topper. A serving of 4 tablespoons of hemp hearts has as much protein as 2 eggs.”
Moving back to Canada from my 9 year Australia stint I was taken by surprise by the abundance of hemp products on the market. Hemp as food will only become legal in Australia in 2017, previously falling under a classification that prohibits all species of cannabis from being added to food, or sold as a food. Currently, in the USA, hemp in food is legal to sell, while a limited pilot program for growing is ongoing.
Looking into the history of hemp a bit more I found that it had a strong presence in Canadian history. In the 1800s the King of England offered free land (and free hemp seed) to immigrants who moved to Canada and grew hemp for both textile production and as a food. Unfortunately in 1937 hemp became strictly regulated by the Marijuana Tax Act, largely due to confusion with other kinds of cannabis. In 1970 we saw the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act coming in, abolishing the taxation approach of the Marijuana Tax Act, and effectively making all cultivation of cannabis illegal by setting a zero tolerance for THC. Fast forward to 1998, after years of organized advocacy work, industrial hemp was legalized in Canada for the first time in decades.
Farmers are pleased by the easy nature of hemp growing, and consumers are happy that minimal or no herbicides or pesticides are needed. The sturdy hemp plant works to push out weeds, and the large leaves suppress the light, further out-competing weeds. In addition to this hemp uses very little water, is fast growing, and can help break up subsoil which improves soil and helps with land management.
The hemp hearts featured in this recipe for vegan ranch dressing taste so good you won’t even miss the sour cream. Use it on hearty salads, on top of steamed vegetables, or as a healthy vegetable dip. It packs over 8g of protein per serve and your daily omega-3 fatty acid needs. Serve it with your salad on top of one cup of quinoa and you have yourself a complete meal.
Vegan Ranch Dressing with Hemp
Use any herb that is in season, though dill is essential if you are going for the ranch flavours. Lemon juice can be used in place of apple cider vinegar as in the original recipe but I prefer to limit my food miles and utilize fermented food products which includes unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. This vegan, gluten-free dressing is a simple one to whip us and will transform any salad into a weeknight hit.
- ½ cup hemp hearts raw
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup dill fresh
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves of garlic sliced
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar unpasteurised
- 1/4 tsp sea salt plus more to taste
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. It may seem runny to begin with but it will thicken with time. Season to taste.
Store in the refrigerator in a sealed mason jar. Will last about 7 days in the fridge.
Adapted from Oh She Glows