This book is chock-full of recipes and useful information that will fascinate readers who care deeply about what they eat, how it is prepared, and what nutrients it contains.
[Hempseed Food: The REAL Secret Ingredient for Health & Happiness by Mariann Garner-Wizard; illustrated by Charlie Loving (2013: Lulu.com); Paperback; 90 pp.; $15.]
When Rag Blog regular Mariann Garner-Wizard decided in 1995 to write a book about cooking with hempseed, the seed of the Cannabis sativa plant, she thought it would be a quick, easy project. A longtime cannabis activist, she saw hempseed foods then just as she saw other products that could be made from the banned “marijuana” plant: fibers for paper, fabric, and building materials; oil and biomass for fuels; and valuable medicines for cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, and other disease sufferers.
Nineteen years later, with the publication of Hempseed Food: The Real Secret Ingredient for Health & Happiness, Garner-Wizard sees it a little differently.
“We’ve cut down our forests and dug up the earth for slow-to-renew or non-renewable natural resources that could be supplied cleanly and renewably by hemp,” she said in a recent conversation.
Fine, whatever, as long as we have plenty of cute clothes and new cars, right? We’ve filled our prisons and clogged our courts with the so-called war on drugs, where the victim literally gets the blame. Fine, whatever, as long as you and I stay out of trouble, right? But the nutrition thing really gets to me. We’ve allowed ourselves to be robbed of Nature’s most perfect food, and in consequence suffer from an unprecedented rate of incurable chronic diseases.
I know I wasn’t brought up on the best diet. Bleached flour and white sugar were too popular in the 50s and 60s. But when I became a Mom, I thought I was feeding my son the best food available. To find out, 16 years into the process, that I wasn’t, and that vital nutrients are missing from our foods entirely, pushed all my buttons!
The result of Garner-Wizard’s subsequent research and experimentation, Hempseed Food: The Real Secret Ingredient for Health & Happiness is chock-full of useful information. Introductory sections will fascinate readers who care deeply about what they eat, how it is prepared, and what nutrients it contains.
Figures provide useful illustrations of hempseed’s contents; amazingly, hempseed contains more protein by weight than beefsteak! And it’s in a form that easiest for the body to digest! Even the footnotes are interesting and useful. The phrase “you are what you eat” is a mantra worth reciting on every trip to a grocery store or restaurant, and the more information we have, the better we can make wise choices.
Hempseed Food’s explanation of the relationship between human endocannabinoids — an internal human signaling system that controls a surprising number of physical functions! — and the ingredients in hempseed is especially provocative. Could certain foods, eaten regularly, really reduce the risk of many diseases? Wizard’s 15 years as a science writer adds to her credibility.
Beyond the history and science of hemp nutrition, she offers a pleasing balance of recipes.
Beyond the history and science of hemp nutrition, she offers a pleasing balance of recipes: breakfasts, soups, salads, veggies, entrees, desserts, breads, snacks; all are well-represented. Many recipes are more like formulas, nicely enlarging the possible combinations of ingredients one may use.
For example: if you want to make tabooley (page 25) and don’t have Roma tomatoes, use whatever tomatoes you have on hand; if you have no pine nuts but plenty of walnuts, use walnuts. The result will still be tabooley, just slightly different. Similarly, you can easily make appropriate changes according to individual dietary preferences or requirements. The recipes in Hempseed Food frequently list ingredient options such as: “sugar, honey, or substitute sweetener.”
No fancy tools are required to prepare these recipes. An electric coffee grinder is used to process hempseeds for some dishes; a small one will do. In general, recipes are geared to beginner cooks or people without a lot of time for food preparation and are meant to familiarize users with hempseed’s versatility; in baking, for example, raw ground hempseed can substitute for a good portion of the main dry ingredient and virtually all oil or shortening.
Approximate times for preparing individual recipes are not given; nor does every recipe indicate how many servings it makes. More experienced cooks will be able to tell by reading the recipes how much time each is likely to take from start to finish and how many people it will likely serve. However, it would not be an error to allow more time for preparation than a first perusal of the recipe might suggest, or to assume that fewer rather than more people will be adequately served. Cooking times are given but may vary depending on altitude and equipment used: some ovens run hotter than others.
Simple tips at the beginning of each section are informative and helpful, spurring creative personal adaptations. The generous space given to “Recipe Notes” for each section will help keep track of variations made to the recipes.
The biggest challenge for using this book may be finding a reliable source of whole hempseeds.
The biggest challenge for using this book may be finding a reliable source of whole hempseeds. A short list of suppliers is included; no doubt more could be found by an Internet search. You may find hempseed and hemp products at your local health food store or food co-op, a prospect well worth investigating. Even mainstream grocers are beginning to carry products such as hempseed milk, hemp oil, and “shelled” hempseeds. Garner-Wizard believes a legal domestic hempseed crop would substantially lower prices, making these foods more accessible.
“Dietary habits are hard to change,” the author notes.
We all like our little comfort foods, reliable and familiar. But when people try hempseed foods, and especially when they eat them regularly, they start to notice a difference. Not only is hempseed delicious – it’s what your body craves on a molecular level. I’m trying to turn people on to the thing Mick Jagger said he couldn’t ever get: satisfaction.
Rag/Rag Blog artist Charlie Loving’s typically goofy cartoons adorn the cover and chapter heads, adding a sense of gleeful enthusiasm to learning about this once-“secret” superfood.
All in all, Hempseed Food: the Real Secret Ingredient for Health & Happiness is much more than a collection of recipes. Food for thought is every bit as nourishing as food for the body; have a heaping helping and enjoy!
Hempseed Food is available at Lulu.com, from online retailers, or by special order from your favorite bookstore. In Austin, find it at Bookpeople, BookWoman, Whatever Smoke & Kitsch, Resistencia Books, and Brave New Books.
Mariann Garner-Wizard will be speaking and signing copies of her book during Hemp History Week in Austin and New Braunfels, Texas. See the article at the Rag Blog Metro Page.