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Breakfast Brainfood

Posted on January 7, 2004

Wake Up to the Great Nutrition & Flavor of Hemp

Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance

Portland, Maine — It is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What we choose to eat at breakfast can affect our mood, physical and mental performance, weight and general health. Hempseed is a delicious “natural body fuel” that is being used more and more as an ingredient in breakfast foods and recipes. Where did this trend come from?

Consumers are eating hemp for breakfast because it has a pleasant nutty flavor, fits into a wide range of diets, and because — it works! Hemp gives bodies the energy and vitality needed for a good start to the day. The fact that hemp agriculture doesn’t require pesticides and herbicides to thrive is an environmental bonus for the modern consumer.

The nutritional value of hemp is backed by science. Nutrition experts are increasingly recognizing the health benefits of hemp due to its high concentration of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids, strong digestible protein profile, soluble and insoluble fiber content, and the wealth of vitamins and minerals. Across North America, a healthy hemp breakfast can come in many forms:

Traditional Hemp Breakfast Fare

Nature’s Path offers ready-to-eat hemp breakfast staples that are widely available including Organic HempPlus Granola and HempPlus Toaster Waffles. For those that prefer to mix their own breakfast batters, leading hemp food companies offer pancake mixes and hemp flour. Hempola, and Hemp Oil Canada (under the Prairie Emerald brand) make hemp flour mixes that can be used in just about any breakfast baking recipe imaginable including pastries, pancakes, bread, muffins, croissants and waffles. Hemp flour is a nutritious substitute for other grain-based flours. Pancakes made with hemp flour offer as much as 10 times the protein per serving than regular pancakes (25g). Hempola also offers ready-to-make pancake mixes. Hempseed added to granola is another way to make a healthy hemp breakfast meal.

Hemp Beverages to Jump-Start the Day

Canolio and Hemp Oil Canada are creating a buzz by offering hemp coffees. Another healthy breakfast beverage that is growing in popularity is hemp milk made from ground hempseeds. Companies such as Ruth’s Hemp Foods now offer “hemp milk machines” for added convenience. For those that like a warm pick-me-up alternative to coffee, Manitoba Harvest has created a recipe for Hemp Mate Late. This tasty treat features hemp milk, Guayaki Yerba Mate, maple syrup, and cocoa or cinnamon (see recipe below).

A Healthy Hemp Breakfast On-the-Go

According to a report by the Nutrition Business Journal, sales of nutrition bars topped $1 billion in 2001 and are growing at a rapid pace. It is clear that today’s busy lifestyle has consumers seeking a convenient way to maintain healthy nutrition and get the energy they need. Because of its strong nutrition profile and nutty flavor, hempseed is becoming a popular nutrition bar ingredient. Most hempseed nutrition bars are blended with fruit and nuts. Alpsnack offers a bar made with Certified Organic Hemp Nuts, Almonds & Fruits, and 100% of the profits go to hemp advocacy causes. Fast Fuel offers 3 hemp varieties: Organic Chocolate Crunch, Organic Chocolate Espresso and Apple Caramel. Living Harvest sells 3 different Hempower bars (Apricot, Blueberry or Cranberry); Nutiva offers 2 including the “Original Hemp Bar” and Ruth’s Hemp Foods has the largest offering with 8 varieties.

“Smooth” Liquid Hemp Breakfasts

For those that prefer to gain their breakfast nutrition via a liquid form, Living Harvest and Nutiva offer Hemp Protein Powders that are easy to mix with juice or blend with a smoothie. As proof that hemp protein powders are rising in stature, Nutiva’s Organic Hemp Protein Powder won the New Product Showcase Award Competition at the 2003 Natural Product Expo East, the $36 billion natural product industry’s largest trade show. Hemp powder is an healthy alternative to soy isolate protein powders, which are commonly non-organic, may contain GMOs, and are often processed with hexane — a petroleum solvent similar to gasoline. Hemp is also free of the enzyme inhibitor found in soy, grains and other legumes that prevents protein absorption and typically causes gas, bloating and other digestion problems.

Hemp Breakfast Sprinkles, Spreads and Sauces

Hemp is a condiment that every breakfast table should feature. Manitoba Harvest offers a hempseed nut butter that is a wonderful spread for breads, bagels and croissants and is a delicious addition to smoothies. Hempseed nut butter can be substituted for other nut butters in any recipe.

Toasted and shelled hempseeds are healthy additions to breakfast foods. For example they can be sprinkled on bowls of fruit, blended in smoothies or added to baked goods. Similarly, hemp oil, which tastes like sunflower and walnut oils, is a healthy breakfast addition. Tasty suggestions include blending it with maple syrup as a topping or mixing it into power-packed smoothies. Companies offering both hempseed and hemp oil include Canolio, Hempola, Hemp Oil Canada (Prairie Emerald), Living Harvest, Manitoba Harvest, Nutiva, and Ruth’s Hemp Foods. Hemp oil should only be used for low-temperature cooking — as high heat can compromise the nutritional value.

Hemp’s Amazing Nutrition Profile

Health-conscious breakfast eaters will be pleased to learn that hemp’s essential fatty acid (EFA) profile is closer to fish oil than any other vegetable oil. Hemp oil is one of the few seed oils containing significant quantities (20%) of alpha-linolenic acid, an important omega-3 EFA. It is also the source of a rare “super omega-3” called stearidonic acid (SDA) that is the “first metabolite” in the omega-3 family and therefore easy for the body to process. It is also a rare plant source of the “super omega-6” EFA called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Hemp oil typically contains less than 10% saturated fatty acids, and no trans-fatty acids, which are particularly detrimental to blood cholesterol balance.

With regard to protein, hemp is 24% protein and contains all of the essential amino acids in more nutritionally significant amounts and at a ratio closer to “complete” sources of protein (like meat, milk and eggs) than all other seeds except soy. 66% of the protein in hemp is “edestin,” which are pre-cursors to such vital body components as hormones, hemoglobin, enzymes and antibodies. Edestin protein is not only highly digestible, it also helps to facilitate digestion and suppress symptoms of vomiting. Hemp’s edestin structure is the highest in the plant kingdom. Hemp also contains a healthy 35% dietary fiber, of which 10% is soluble in water. Hemp is also high in the natural antioxidants Vitamin E, Vitamin C and chlorophyll.

To help the emerging industry continue to grow and expand into new markets, the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) was formed earlier this year. The CHTA is composed of farmers, processors, marketers, and researchers in Canada and the United States. The Canadian government recognizes the legitimacy and economic value of the hemp industry; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is one of the primary financial supporters of the CHTA.

Hemp Breakfast Recipes

Banana Bread (Courtesy of Hemp Oil Canada)

  • ½ cup hemp oil
  • ½ cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
  • ½ cup hemp flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup hempseed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together the oil and sweetener. Combine the eggs and banana, and blend into the sweet mixture. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the Hempseed and vanilla and mix well. Bake at 350°F for 1 to 1¼ hours until a toothpick comes out clean.

Hempseed Granola (Courtesy of Hemp Oil Canada)

  • 4 cups unsweetened plain granola
  • ½ cup each hulled, toasted, unsalted, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup flax seeds
  • ¾ cup hulled hempseed
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup hemp oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. Evenly spread granola in a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Add sunflower, pumpkin, flax and hempseeds to the granola and mix well.

Place honey in a microwavable bowl or cup and heat for 1 to 2 minutes on high until hot but not boiling. Pour over oil. Drizzle honey mixture over the granola, mixing well until evenly coated. Spread evenly and bake mixture for another 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature before storing in an air-tight container. Makes 8 cups (2L).

Hempseed Nut Milk (Courtesy of Manitoba Harvest)

  • 1 cup hempseed
  • 3-6 cups later

Combine water and hempseed nut in a blender or hemp milk machine. Create desired thickness by using more or less water. Blend on high for 2 — 3 minutes. To sweeten, add bananas, dates, figs, raisins, maple syrup, honey or a favorite fruit. Blend again until smooth. Hempseed nut milk is perfect alone, with breakfast cereal, or as part of a Hemp Mate Late.

Mate Hemp Latte (Courtesy of Manitoba Harvest)

  • Guayaki Yerba Mate
  • Hemp milk
  • Maple syrup
  • Cocoa or cinnamon to garnish

Brew traditional Yerba Mate in a drip coffee maker. Combine 2 Tbsp of maple syrup with 1 ¼ cup of Guayaki Yerba Mate and ¼ of hemp milk. Garnish with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon.

Ruth’s Have-a-Great-Day Smoothie (Courtesy of Ruth’s Hemp Foods)

  • 2 tablespoons hempseed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon hemp oil
  • 1 tablespoon milled flax seed
  • ½ banana
  • ½ lemon
  • 5 dates
  • 1” peeled fresh ginger
  • Other fruit as desired — (cranberries, pineapple, etc.)
  • 3 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Breakfast Facts

After going 9 — 12 hours without food, blood sugar levels drop and can be low upon waking. Studies have linked low blood sugar levels to poor memory, concentration and learning. Eating breakfast raises blood sugar levels and helps us to function more effectively. Another reason for having a breakfast is the kick-start it gives to the metabolism. After meals, there is a surge in oxygen uptake as food is digested and absorbed. During sleep, the metabolism slows down, so eating soon after waking helps boost metabolism and gets the body going again.

Research has also shown that skipping the first meal of the day may lead to an unhealthy pattern of snacking on high-fat foods throughout the morning. Studies also indicate that people who eat breakfast are more likely to have more nutritionally balanced diets compared to those who miss breakfast.

A supplement published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition collated the findings studies into the effects of breakfast habits in children. The results showed that those children who didn’t have breakfast in the morning performed less well in problem solving tasks. Verbal fluency, creativity and the ability to recall newly acquired facts were similarly affected. Studies carried out at the University of Wales, found that adults who ate breakfast tended to work faster, made fewer mistakes in logic tests and had better memory recall compared with breakfast skippers.

Copyright © 2004, Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. All rights reserved.