Four score and seven(ish) days ago our Jordana brought forth on this blog, a new announcement, conceived in product samples, and dedicated to the proposition that all foods aren’t created equal. Now we are engaged in a great taste-bud war, testing whether that hemp powder sample, or any hemp powder so conceived and so dedicated, can long impress. We are met in a great kitchen of that war. Thankfully, we don’t have to dedicate a portion of the garbage can as a final resting place for those cups of hemp powder that here gave their lives that new recipes might be tasted. Instead, it is altogether fitting and proper that we should eat them.
Forgive me for that terrible terrible intro, but I recently watched the movie Lincoln and felt inspired when I realized that it’s been almost three months since I mentioned I would be doing a product review for Manitoba Harvest’s HEMP PRO 70. Apparently, I was so inspired that I had to desecrate the Gettysburg Address and its message. Awful. Awful. It’s like a train whose brakes are out, barreling toward a precipice: once I got started, I couldn’t stop, even though I could see the cliff in front of me.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand…
Manitoba Harvest generously sent me a canister of HEMP PRO 70 to sample. HEMP PRO 70 is a water soluble hemp protein powder, which contains only hemp protein concentrate and natural plant extracts. It’s chocked full of omega-3s, -6s, and -9s, and it’s super high in protein. The product is also gluten free, lactose free, and vegan. Four tablespoons contain 140 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of protein.
Since I’d fallen in love with Hemp Hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds), I figured I might like the hemp protein powder as well. When the canister arrived in the mail, I did a jump for joy (clearly), and then I opened it up.
The first thing I noticed was the color. The powder has a distinct greenish tinge, which definitely shades most foods it touches. Then I noticed the texture. To the touch, the powder is extremely fine grained, similar to talcum powder, I’d say. Last but not least, I sampled just a taste of the powder dry and noted a subtle flavor that was a mixture of nutty and grassy (maybe vegetable-y?). It’s really not something that I can compare to another food; it’s a flavor all its own.
Once I cracked open the canister, it was all over. As per usual, I might have overdone it, but in the course of one day I made something for lunch, an afternoon snack, and then dinner with the hemp protein powder. For lunch I blended some into my oatmeal, which then strangely reminded me (in taste, not texture) of whole wheat matzo (a crunchy cracker-like food eaten on Passover). If you’ve never had matzo, suffice it to say that I’m sad I haven’t been able to eat it since finding out I’m gluten intolerant (5 years ago).
For a mid-afternoon snack, I made a smoothie out of vanilla rice milk and the protein powder. Interestingly, not only did the blended beverage have a completely smooth (as opposed to gritty) texture, but also the flavor of the hemp got almost lost, just a hint escaping from behind the vanilla rice milk flavor. If you’re into making protein shakes but don’t care for the flavor of other protein powders, this would probably be a good option for you since it pretty much disappears.
For dinner, I got…creative (weird?). I pretty much took whatever I had around my kitchen and dumped it all into my food processor. I started by steaming a mixed bag of veggies. Then I put the veggies in the food processor with a good amount of hemp protein powder. The result was a bit on the goopy side, so I added puffed rice cereal.
Then I made patties and cooked them on the stove in a bit of oil. The outcome wasn’t a piece of art or anything, but my dinner was pretty tasty. The nutty flavor of the hemp protein powder really complemented the veggies.
But that day of kitchen frenzy was like two months ago. So what took me so long to post this review? Well, I really wanted to try the hemp protein powder in a dessert recipe, and I couldn’t readily find one that I wanted to make. Finally last weekend I decided to improvise my own.
I found a brownie recipe online and replaced all of the flour with hemp protein powder. I’m a sucker for brownies. Once I mixed all the ingredients together, the batter was thicker than one might expect. And since I’m a huge fan of super fudgy brownies and was concerned the hemp powder might suck up moisture, I dumped a cup of chocolate chips in before baking.
The result was fabulous. I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but the brownies came out unbelievably fudgy. There was a slight underlying hemp powder flavor, but when I asked my friend April what they tasted like, she confirmed she wouldn’t have known it wasn’t flour if I hadn’t told her. And technically they were healthy because they were full of hemp protein (Trust me. I know these things.). Success!
All things considered, the HEMP PRO 70 is a pretty versatile product. I will say that I’ve ended up mostly just dumping it in my oatmeal on a regular basis because it’s so tasty and easy to do, but it clearly has a lot of potential in other recipes, as the veggie patties and brownies both showed.
The one lament I have about HEMP PRO 70 is that it only comes in a canister. If it came in a bag, I would be much more apt to use it in recipes. As it is, I perceive it as meant to be used in protein shakes. Also, the use of a bag might help lower the price a little. Amazon currently sells a 16 ounce canister of HEMP PRO 70 for about $18, which can be a lofty price tag for daily use. But then again, maybe that’s Manitoba Harvest’s intention.
As far as my thru-hike goes, I think Hemp Hearts have more potential for my diet than the HEMP PRO 70 since they are heartier, whereas the protein powder doesn’t stand out that strongly on its own (and really, who wants to see me choke on a spoonful of dry protein powder?). However, I will say, if someone wanted to send me some hemp protein brownies (no, not that kind of special brownie…I said hemp PROTEIN), I definitely wouldn’t turn them down.