In my experience a common concern that non-vegans express for their vegan friends is typically summed up in the question of "where do you get your protein?" Those who are new to the world of veganism tend to have a sincere concern surrounding protein, thanks to the marketing mavens that have been employed by the meat, egg and dairy industries for decades. At this point in my vegan journey the question almost sounds cliche, but I welcome the inquiry as an opportunity to share information. Typically my answer is that plant foods contain protein and that every nutrient that our bodies need can be found in the plant world. With the abundance of whole foods available on the market we simply do not need animals to act as the "middle-man" to obtain protein, or any other nutrient for that matter. I always use the example of hemp hearts as one of the sources of where I get my protein, as hemp hearts contain 24g of protein in every 1/2 cup!
Not only does hemp taste delicious (it has a mild nutty flavour), but it is also easy to use and incredibly versatile. I always add hemp hearts to my daily smoothies and use it as a topping on avocado toast, salads, soups and pasta. In addition to being an excellent plant-based source of protein it is full of healthful essential fatty acids, with the ideal balance between omegas 3 & 6. Today I am sharing a recipe for guilt-free Hemp Tahini Bars from the Manitoba Harvest test kitchen (at the bottom of this article). These beauties are made with nutty hemp hearts, creamy tahini, delicious macadamia nuts and are naturally sweetened with dates.
hemp history 101
In celebration of the 2015 Organic Week I attended an inspirational talk with entrepreneur-extrodinarie Mike Fata, CEO and Co-Founder of Canada’s very own Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods. I have been including hemp in my diet for years, but it was only during this talk that I learned about the rich history surrounding this incredibly sustainable super plant and the instrumental role that it played in shaping North America.
The legacy of Hemp in our continent began in 1606, when French Botanist Louis Hebert planted the first hemp crop. By the 1800s the King of England offered free land (and free hemp seed) to immigrants who moved to Canada under the stipulation that they would grow hemp. At this time in history, hemp oil was an everyday item that was used in lamps for lighting and the very ships that brought settlers to North America were outfitted with ropes and sails made from hemp. The first Canadian flag was even made of hemp and in the United States, The Declaration of Independence draft was written on hemp paper.
Around 1937, the magazine Popular Mechanics declared hemp as the next Billion-dollar crop estimating over 25,000 different uses for hemp. Hemp was integrating into modern life until it was ‘temporarily’ banned in 1937. The ban was largely due to confusion with other kinds of Cannabis. To clarify, hemp is a species of Cannabis sativa, however, hemp is not the same as marijuana - much like comparing a sweet pepper to a hot pepper. There are also conspiracy theories surrounding the prohibition of hemp in North America, as hemp was a possible competitor to the wood-pulp paper and nylon industries.
the legalization of hemp
Years passed until the 1990s when the Manitoba Harvest co-founders helped legalize Industrial Hemp. Their efforts were based on a simple desire to share hemp foods with the world. In 1998, after years of advocacy work by the co-founders, Industrial Hemp was legalized in Canada and an industry was born.*
fostering positive change for the community and the environment
Over the years the Manitoba Harvest founders’ vision has remained unchanged - to foster positive change for community and the environment. The Manitoba Harvest team takes a hands-on approach and is in the fields educating farmers and encouraging more hemp acres. They also work to proactively spread the word about hemp foods to all those that will listen, sharing over 2 million sample packages per year to hemp fans young and old all across North America.
Manitoba Harvest is the world's largest manufacturer to grow, make and sell their own line of hemp food. They make virtually everything on-site at their manufacturing facility which has achieved the highest level of global certification in food safety and quality (BRC Grade A+). Manitoba Harvest products are 100% vegan-friendly and non-GMO Project verified. Manitoba Harvest also takes social responsibility seriously and is certified as a B Corporation which means that they adhere to rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.**
Hemp Tahini Bars - how incredible do these look?
These bars are perfect for grab and go! The majority of the ingredients are loaded with healthy fats and plant-based protein. They are guilt-free as they are sweetened using dates.
Want to make these completely raw? Simply ensure that the ingredients you’re using are raw - use raw tahini, raw coconut oil, raw macadamia nuts, raw almond butter and raw dark chocolate.
You will need:
12 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup Hemp Hearts
1 pinch of fine sea salt
100 g bar of dark chocolate (70% or higher) - I love using Giddy Yo Yo's Original 76% chocolate made with wild Ecuadorian Heirloom Arriba Nacional cacao which you can find here.
1 teaspoon coconut oil
(use organic ingredients)
In a medium bowl, mash the dates with a fork. If your dates are too dry you can soak them in hot water for around 15 minutes. If they still won’t mash easily, you can blend them in a blender with a tiny bit of water.
Next, add the tahini, almond butter and coconut oil and mix until it is well combined. Then add in the chia seeds, macadamia nuts and Hemp Hearts and mix until it forms a soft dough.
Press the dough into a parchment paper lined 8x8 pan. Put the pan in the freezer to let the bars set. Next, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in either a double boiler or a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water.
Once the chocolate is melted, remove the bars from the freezer and pour the chocolate over the top making sure it is spread out evenly. Put the bars back in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until the chocolate is set.
To serve, cut the bars into squares (of whichever size you like) and let them thaw for around 5 minutes. Store the bars in an airtight container in the freezer until you’re ready to eat.
Yield: 12 to 16 bars
Special thanks to Manitoba Harvest for sharing this yummy recipe. The original recipe can be found here.
To get your hands on yummy, nutty hemp hearts for this recipe check out Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods and get 10% off using the promo code “Hemptastic” at checkout. Click here.
You can find Giddy Yo Yo's Original 76% chocolate made with wild Ecuadorian Heirloom Arriba Nacional cacao here.
Much love and hemp hearts,
This post was in collaboration with Manitoba Harvest. This is an unpaid endorsement and the products used in this post were kindly gifted for review. I only share products that I personally use and that are made with the highest integrity.
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*” Hemp History | Manitoba Harvest - Hemp Foods." Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
** "B Corporation." What Are B Corps? N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.