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Hemp seed is a nutrient-dense food with lots of health benefits. Unfortunately, it was off the market for years. The United States banned the production of hemp back in 1937. No one could grow it for decades unless they wanted to run afoul of the law. Though hemp contains almost no THC, it was banned along with marijuana as part of the same act. Recently, legislators have come around. Hemp is now back on store shelves in communities across the country.

While that’s great news, the problem is that almost everyone has forgotten how to cook with it. Not only that, they don’t remember how to store it, or what to look for when buying it. This collection of tips is designed to help people get comfortable with hemp seed and its benefits all over again.

Hemp seed is very nutritious. It’s also a complete plant protein, containing all nine of the amino acids that humans need to function. Hemp seed is very protein-rich for a plant-based food. It packs 10g of protein into a two tablespoon serving. This means that hemp seed is a great option for vegetarians and vegans. Including hemp seed in a plant-based diet ensures complete nutrition.

The easiest way to consume hemp seed is in its shelled form. Shelled hemp seeds are sometimes called “hemp hearts.” Hemp hearts make a great addition to cereals, yogurt and can be blended into smoothies. Because they’re already shelled, the seeds are easier to chew and digest.

Hemp seed can also be a useful cooking substitute for people who have food allergies or sensitivities. Hemp seeds are great at adding texture to food. They can be used in place of breadcrumbs for chicken, fish or even meatballs and meatloaf. Hemp seeds have a great texture and a slightly nutty flavor, which means they can also be great addition to the pantries of people with nut allergies.

When buying hemp seed, look for dates on the packages. The fatty acids in hemp seeds become rancid quickly. However, those oils also become rancid quickly. Buy the freshest hemp seed available. After opening the package, refrigerate or freeze it. It will keep for up to a year. A tell-tale sign of rancid seed is the smell.