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Vegetarian Reading

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we feature a book that explores the versatility of hempseeds in preparing foods.

The HempNut Cookbook

By Richard Rose and Brigitte Mars
Edited by Christina Pirello

Book Publishing Company, 2004
$16.95 Paperback

Richard Rose, the Guru of hempseeds, is a visionary with the ability to not only see possibilities, but also to channel his creative energies into production. Rose has taken a long and winding path in creating health foods that also contribute to healing the environment as well.

Rose's mission first began with turning the soybean into sixty different products he marketed under the brand name Brightsong Tofu during the 1980's. Wanting to spread the word about the benefits of soy, he opened a vegetarian restaurant where he served foods created from tofu and soymilk. National recognition brought him a listing in Inc. 500 for operating the fastest growing U.S. company in 1993. His principal product was TofuRella, a cheese alternative marketed in groceries across the country and now sold in Canada and Europe as well.

But Rose's ultimate vision was to bring yet another health food to prominence--the hempseed. Hemp was grown in the U.S. during the first half of the twentieth century and used for producing twine and fabric, but no one in this country had considered hempseeds as a food source, though it was consumed in ancient times in India and the Middle East. HempNut Cookbook

Researching hemp's long history, Rose explains that the seed was first cultivated in China at least five thousand years ago and used for making cloth, rope, paper, food, and oil. Today raw and roasted hempseed is a common food in China where some people still make a curd from it. The seeds have been incorporated into foods in Japan, Tibet, India, South Africa, Israel, and even in Europe as far back as fifteenth-century.

Comfortable in the kitchen since childhood, Rose began exploring ways of incorporating hempseed into foods. His experiments culminated in founding HempNut, Inc., a company that produced Hempeh Burger, HempRella Cheese Alternative, HempNut Nut Butter, HempNut Chocolate Bar, HempNut Hempseed Oil and HempNut Lip Gloss. He even created an efficient mechanism for removing the tough shells that cover the hempseeds.

Richard Rose's focus on hemp is fueled by its superior nutritional qualities. In addition to being a protein powerhouse, hempseeds contain impressive quantities of essential fatty acids. Hemp's 9 percent Omega 3 content is significantly higher than that of fish that is frequently touted for its essential fatty acids. Hempseeds' medicinal benefits include its anti-inflammatory action and its ability to prevent bacterial growth, soothe irritated tissues, act as a diuretic, moisten the skin, lower blood pressure, promote bowel activity, and provide a tonic effect.

With so many positives going for hempseeds why are they not grown by American farmers and sold in every grocery store in the country? The US Drug Enforcement Agency has regulated cannibis sativa, the plant that includes hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is a drug that contains THC, a resin in the cannibis plant that produces a high. Hempseeds contains a small a small amount of THC that sometimes sticks to the outside of the shell. This small amount leads to a positive reading for marijuana in drug tests. Because of this close relationship to marijuana, hemp cannot be grown in the US, even though properly made food products contain no THC.

Teaming up with herbalist, nutritional consultant, and recipe designer Brigitte Mars and PBS host and editor Christina Pirello, Rose has spearheaded a cookbook that makes it possible for everyone to prepare hemp foods in the home kitchen

The all-vegan recipe section begins with an assortment of unique beverages such as Hemp Nut Milk, Lassi, and Omega Smoothie and then introduces breakfast offerings like Scrambled Tofu, Granola, and French Toast.

Dips, Sandwich Spreads, Sauces and Condiments all lend themselves to the hempseed treatment. One can almost taste the rich flavor of toasted hempseeds in the Lentil Pate or lavish a dollop of Hemp Nut Cream over a fresh fruit cobbler.

Soups and Salads take on new dimension with the addition of hempseeds. Gazpacho becomes enriched by blending it with a half-cup of shelled hempseeds while Tuscan Slaw benefits from a dressing moistened with hempseed oil.

Baked Onion Slices featured in the Side Dish section are presented with extraordinary flair. After they are seasoned and baked, they are topped with a rich blend of lemon zest, minced parsley, and toasted shelled hempseed. Instead of preparing the usual breadcrumb stuffing for squash, Brigitte Mars' provides a recipe for Winter Squash with HempNut Filling that stands apart with its innovative combination of apples, raisins, lemon zest, and hempseeds.

Reading Hemp Nutty Burgers featured in the Main Dishes are a wholesome choice that highlights hempseeds enveloped in almond butter, black beans, brown rice, and poultry seasoning. Hemp earns a double billing in the Falafel recipe that includes shelled hempseeds and then hides under a blanket of Lemony HempNut Sauce.

Baked treats are nutritionally enhanced when they include a measure of hempseeds. Quick bread fanciers can enjoy Apricot Bread, Banana Bread, and Cornbread while those who prefer yeast-raised loaves can scarf down slices of Whole Wheat Bread or Bright Red Deadhead Bread.

A host of dessert recipes to quell the sweet cravings also receive the gift of hempseeds. From stuffed with hempseeds, raisins, and spices to Biscotti with a rich ganache topping to Chocolate Chip Cookies, hempseeds are indeed the stars of each ingeniously created recipe.

The exceptional glossary at the end of the book provides an educational tool to understanding the technical language Rose uses in discussing the many aspects of hempseeds. Those curious to know about the authors will appreciate About the Authors, a final chapter that connects the readers and the writers and brings a deeper appreciation for their work.

Richard Rose's informative chapters on hempseed history, nutrition, and politics partnered with Brigitte Mars' innovative recipe offerings introduce an important food source to home cooks eager to explore new ways to put tasty and nutritious dishes on the table. From its mouth-watering full-color hemp burger on the front cover to the gingerbread recipe at the end, the HempNut Cookbook is an exceptional, well researched, and beautifully presented volume. The recipes, though unique, are easy to follow and provide a plethora of culinary temptations.

Reviewed May 2005

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