Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

Meatless Monday: How to make hemp seed pesto

08/25/2014 10:51 AM

08/25/2014 11:15 AM

Note: This is the first in a three-part Meatless Monday series on recipes that incorporate hemp seeds.

Last summer, I wrote a story for The Star’s food section about the rising popularity of hemp seeds.

While working on the story, I learned to like the seeds, which have a creamy texture and nutty taste similar to sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Hemp seeds are small — they’re similar in size to sesame seeds — but they pack a big nutritional punch. They are high in protein and fiber and contain an almost ideal balance of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which support heart and brain health.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, hemp seeds won’t get you high or make you fail a drug test. Like marijuana, hemp is a variety of cannabis, but it contains super-low levels of THC.

Consuming the recommended 3-tablespoon serving over the course of one day is relatively easy: Just blend the seeds into smoothies or sprinkle on cereal, yogurt, salads and grilled fish.

I typically buy Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, sold by natural grocers and chains such as Whole Foods, Costco and Kroger. I like the seeds sprinkled on oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and a drizzle of real maple syrup, but I also use them to bump up the protein in basil pesto.

The following recipe is from Tara Miko, founder of an Austin, Texas-based line of hemp seed products called Happy Hemp. It substitutes low-allergen hemp seeds for pine nuts, so it’s great for those with nut allergies.

Happy Nut-Free Pesto

Makes 1 cup pesto

2 cups basil

1 cup parsley

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup hemp seeds

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon and hemp seeds in a food processor. Pulse a few times. Turn the food processor to low and slowly add olive oil.

Scrape the sides of the food processor, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 122 calories (79 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 4 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 14 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes dining guides and bar guides for Ink magazine. Contact her via email at or tweet @sarah_gish.


Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service