I’m a carnivore, so my experience in the vegan world is limited. I thought the majority of protein for vegans was tofu, but I just learned that hemp seeds are a vegan source of protein too.
Hemp seeds come from a breed of the cannabis plant that has low, or non-existent concentrations of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The same plant used for hemp seeds is also used for hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper and even fuel.
The seeds themselves have a definite nutty taste and look much like cooked quinoa, except they’re raw. They’re great on salads, in granola bars, and can even be made into hemp butter for those who are allergic to nuts. They’re also an excellent source for non-animal protein – two tablespoons offers nearly 7 grams of protein. That’s one reason why I included them in several of my homemade protein bar recipes in my book, High Protein No Powder.
The nutritional profile is bigger than protein though. Hemp seeds also contain magnesium, phytosterols (plant-based, similar to cholesterol, but shown to help reduce cholesterol in humans), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), beta-carotene (half of vitamin A that provides the orange color in carrots and pumpkins), calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and thiamine (vitamin B1).
If that wasn’t enough, you can also make homemade hemp milk! It’s a frugal alternative to animal milk, great if you’re not a fan of coconut milk, and very rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients.
The Problem with Commercial Hemp Milk
I have three main problems with commercial hemp milk and why I recommending making homemade hemp milk instead.
1. The ingredients are questionable.
There aren’t many main stream sources for hemp milk. I may have seen one brand at Whole Foods and Amazon lists only two. Could it be the negative stigma associate with the term? Or maybe it just hasn’t caught on in main stream popularity yet?
In either case, the ingredients listed in commercial hemp milk are similar to those listed for commercial coconut milk. Like most commercially prepared foods, this is not a good thing.
The two brands on Amazon both list Vitamin A Palmitate (a synthetic form of vitamin A), additional synthetic vitamins and unnecessary sweeteners. Not all hemp milks are created the same though. This brand also has carrageenan, which we discussed here as being directly related to inflammation, and inflammation is turning out to be the root cause of a whole schlew of health issues.
In fact, it’s one of the dairy additives I recommend avoiding because it’s not healthy for the body.
2. It’s a processed food.
Another downside to commercial hemp milk is that we don’t know the complete processed involved at the manufacturing facility. High temperatures and modern day processes often damage food, causing those amazing nutrients to be lost in the final product (similarly, the pasteurization process affects the nutritional quality and digestibility of cow’s milk as well)
3. It’s expensive.
Once glance at this page shows me that hemp milk is NOT cheap.
After setting on the brand that DOESN’T contain carageenan, and then sifting through a few of the sellers, the cheapest I could find one quart of hemp milk was for $4.70. Not as expensive as the coconut milk, but still – I’d rather not drink any milk than pay that much for one quart.
Fortunately, there’s a healthier and more frugal option. Make homemade hemp milk!
How to Make Homemade Hemp Milk
Making hemp milk is a very similar process to coconut milk. I’ve seen hemp hearts at Costco for $8.50, but it might not be available in all areas. Whole Foods carries them too, but they’re DEFINITELY pricier there. As of this posting, I’ve found hemp hearts…
- Amazon – Manitoba brand is 62¢ per ounce, and if you have Prime, it has free 2-day free shipping. (If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of Amazon Prime right here.)
- Thrive Market – Manitoba is the best deal, but it’s slightly more than Amazon at 65¢ per ounce. Thrive Market also requires a yearly membership, BUT you can get a free 30-day trial here AND a free jar of organic coconut oil when you shop through this link.
Dairy Alternative: Homemade Hemp Milk
Dairy Alternative: Homemade Hemp Milk Author: Tiffany Serves: 1 quart
- 1 cup hemp seeds
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and process for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat.
- Store in a jar, in the fridge. Shake well before using.
For two cups: 1/2 cup hemp seeds, 2 cups water
For one cup: 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 1 cup hot water
Additional Recipe Notes for Homemade Hemp Milk
You’ll definitely have to taste this milk as you’re making it. Some people may not like the bold taste of hemp, but others who drink nut milk regularly may not notice. I thought the ratio of 1:4 with hemp seeds to water was perfect, but feel free to use more or less depending on what you prefer.
Some recipes recommend adding maple syrup or dates to sweeten the milk, but I’d rather not add sugar – in any form – if it’s not necessary. The vanilla extract and cinnamon were a perfect fit for this ratio and made me – a non-nut milk drinker – enjoy it much more.
Not every hemp seed will be ground to a pulp, so there’s the option of straining the milk through a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth or nut milk bag. The pieces weren’t large enough to deter me from drinking it as is, so you may find yourself not having to strain it after all.
More non-dairy milk alternatives:
We’ve been experimenting with a variety of non-dairy milks lately, with homemade hemp milk being just one of them. If you don’t have the ingredients to make hemp milk, I suggest looking at one of these other options:
Big caution that once I switched to homemade hemp milk I realized I was not getting enough calcium in my diet (I am a vegan, as I imagine many fellow readers are). The store-brand milks are fortified with calcium, which is KEY. Unfortunately I had to switch back (or at least do half/half).
Do you cook the hemp seeds first then blend it? Thank you for this recipe
Nope – keep them raw Kaye!
I have both hemp hearts (shelled hemp) and whole unshelled hemp seeds which are hard. Which kind are you using. I can’t tell from the recipe (link doesn’t hemp me unfortunately).
I’m using shelled hemp seeds Helen. 🙂
Do you know where I can buy raw whole hemp seeds? I can only find roasted with the shell, otherwise it’s bird food with nothing on whether or not it’s safe for human consumption. Willing to buy bulk.
Brittany @ Team Crumbs
There are links for different places to purchase hemp seeds. Check out the Amazon and Thrive Market section of the article. Hope this helps!
1 cup hemp seeds = how many grams ?
I’m not sure your cost projections for making hemp milk stand any more….at least by doing the math based on amazon’s current prices.
I was wondering…don’t you strain the hemp seeds off before you drink it? And if you do, can you suggest some uses for the leftover residue? Tks very much:)
You can if you’re a texture type person May, and my default for anything small leftover like this is granola or granola bars. 🙂
I think prices have gone up since you wrote this! Whew!
We really like the taste of Pacific Brand Hemp milk; I know it’s really processed and expensive. However, my son refuses to drink the kind we make at home. I think it’s because there’s a bitter after taste to it that I cannot get rid of by rinsing, soaking, adding sugar, etc… Do you know of any solutions to getting rid of the bitter taste? If I could get past this road block, I would definitely make it from scratch.
Hi Gail! I think the bitterness you’re tasting is the hemp seed itself, which makes it difficult to get rid of. I’m not sure how Pacific can make hemp milk w/o the bitterness, but some of those companies have special food powers that we just don’t have in our own kitchens. 😉 My suggestion would be to counteract the taste with spices, which is why I suggest the vanilla and cinnamon. You might want to play around with the levels of those, possibly adding more cinnamon and even a pinch of nutmeg would be good. Can he do coconut milk? A splash or two of that (or a tablespoon of flaked coconut) would likely help as well.
Good ideas – thanks. I might introduce it like a different spiced milk such as chai flavored milk (not hemp milk) and also take out some of the bitterness with coconut milk… Then try to gradually wean him off the store bought stuff. Yes, he can do coconut milk.
I know I’m a little late to the party, but wanted to share what I encountered. I really enjoy the taste of hemp seeds and have found many ways to put them to good use. It seemed like a logical next step to make hemp milk, so away I went. Um, hard to believe it’s the same seed! I wanted to find a way to like it – pronto. I got the idea on another blog (wish I could give credit, can’t remember now who it was) to add dates. For a full batch of milk, I added 4. What a difference! I hate to say I needed to make it ‘sweet’, but it did the trick, and might work for your son. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for this! I have hemp hearts in the cupboard and will try this out this morning. I was wondering if you knew how to make your own hazelnut milk?
What brand of commercially made hemp milk doesn’t contain carrageenan? I prefer to make my own but when traveling that’s not possible, so I’d like to have back up options. Thanks!
Hi Shannon! I wasn’t able to find one. 🙁 Does it have to be hemp milk while traveling? Maybe another variety will work?
Nope, it doesn’t, I just thought I read somewhere in your article that you had found one. It’s too bad it’s still such a common ingredient despite being so unhealthy!
Pacific Naturals’ regular original and regular vanilla flavored hemp milks don’t have carageenan, but their unsweetened original and unsweetened vanilla varieties do.
Thanks for the update!!
Thanks for this! I’ve used Hemp milk in smoothies (the processed brand), then stopped buying it, and just add hemp seeds sometimes. Looking forward to trying this homemade hemp milk in baking. With the added cinnamon and vanilla it’ll work well with many recipes!
Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try. But how long does it last for? And is it best to store in a mason jar?
I’ve been trying to find out how hemp is commercially processed and have had little success into finding out much. Look forward to trying the receipt. The cost has been the main barrier for constant use. Love the taste and the nutrition better then all other nut drinks. When I find any further information on manufacturing, I’ll pass it on to you.
Thank you for the information, greatly appreciated.