Hemp seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods we can serve to our families, but I know we can all use some more ideas on how to eat them. (And the scoop on why, of all the foods, they’re a good choice to include.) I’m going to share my favorite ways for how to eat hemp seeds to add fiber, healthy fats, and protein to the food our kids eat.
Benefits of Hemp Hearts
I’ve been regularly using hemp seeds, which are often known as hemp hearts, for a few years to add nutrition to the food that I make for myself and my kids. They don’t require any advance preparation and are mild in flavor—so they are an easy addition to sweet and savory foods.
They have all 10 essential amino acids, which is rare for a plant-based protein.
Hemp Seed Nutrition
Here’s a look at the nutrition in a 3-tablespoon size serving of hemp seeds:
- 13 grams fat (with 12 grams of omega-3 and omega-6 per serving)
- 3 grams of fiber
- 10 grams of protein
- 20% RDA of iron
- Folate, manganese, zinc, and magnesium
I’ve relied on hemp seeds to boost my own protein intake during each of my pregnancies—I love that it’s just one single ingredient that’s easy to understand, versus something like a complicated protein powder—and it’s an easy way to balance out my kids’ meals.
(Chia seeds are also an easy nutrition boost to add.)
Where to Buy Hemp Hearts
Manitoba Harvest recently started selling their hemp hearts at Walmart, which is so helpful since you can pick up a bag whenever you pop in for other essentials. I especially love this since our other small-town grocery stores don’t regularly carry hemp seeds, but they’re now easy for me to grab at Walmart.
You can also find them on Amazon and in most all other grocery stores.
Look for them in the baking aisle of your local store. (And here’s a coupon to use on a bag!)
How to Store Hemp Hearts
After you open a package of hemp hearts, simply seal it tightly and store in the fridge to keep them fresh.
Who should eat hemp seeds?
Hemp seeds—which I should mention are from a species of Cannabis sativa but are not the same as marijuana—are a great food for adults and kids. They don’t have much flavor on their own, so they blend well into smoothies and other foods, and they are an easy way to boost nutrition.
I love that they don’t change the texture of foods, so they are easy to tuck into foods kids already like—versus a seed like chia or flax, which thickens whatever we add it to.
How much protein do hemp seeds have?
A 3-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds has 10 grams of protein. A smaller 1-tablespoon serving size has over 3 grams of protein, which is a nice dose given that toddlers only need 2-3 servings of protein a day.
What’s the difference between hemp seeds and chia seeds?
Hemp seeds and chia seeds are often used interchangeably, but they are pretty different in terms of nutrition. To start, hemp seeds have twice the amount of protein as you’ll find in chia and flax. Here’s a look at the breakdown:
- Hemp seeds: 10 grams protein, 12 grams omega fatty acids, 3 grams fiber
- Chia seeds: 4 grams protein, 7 grams omega fatty acids, 10 grams fiber
- Flaxseeds: 5 grams protein, 9 grams omega fatty acids, 9 grams fiber
Looking at that list, you can get a better idea of which seed to use depending on which nutrient you may want to add more of.
And there’s a giant difference in terms of texture—hemp seeds don’t thicken foods they’re added to like chia and flaxseeds can, so that is also a plus when adding to kids’ food since the food will still taste and feel the way it’s expected to.
8 Ways to Serve Hemp Seeds to Kids
These are the ways that we regularly use hemp seeds in our house, and how I like to incorporate them into the food I serve my kids.
- Add to smoothies: Add a tablespoon of hemp seeds to a smoothie and blend well.
- Blend into hummus: When making your next batch of hummus, at a tablespoon or two and blend it up!
- Sprinkle on salads: Use hemp seeds as a topping on salads, both for yourself and kiddo salads.
- Sprinkle on stir fries: Top any stir-fry or noodle dish with a dusting of hemp seeds.
- Stir into oatmeal: Add a spoonful to oatmeal to add fats and protein to help the oatmeal provide energy a little longer than it otherwise would.
- Add to yogurt: Sprinkle onto yogurt along with some honey or jam for a super-powered snack.
- Stir into grains: Stir a spoonful into grains like brown rice and quinoa to add nutrition. They blend right in!
- Blend into mac and cheese: Add ¼ cup hemp seeds to this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese for extra protein and healthy fats.
I’d love to hear your feedback or questions on hemp seeds, so please comment below with feedback.
This post was first published June 2019.