Since I began down my vegetarian path over 15 years ago, I have heard my share of people's comments on vegetarians and our "weird" foods. People say things like, "the vegetarian diet is an interesting one!" (usually while rolling their eyes). While it is true that health-conscious people have a wide assortment of foods that we include in our diets, I don't consider "vegetarian food" to be mysterious or even all that different from any other kind of food.
For the most part, vegetarian food is simple. We eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, beans and other legumes, etc. Nothing freaky there. Venture down the center aisles of your natural foods store, though, and you may find some things that you readily assume to be obscure and secret vegetarian items.
Enter the hemp seed. Sounds almost illegal, right? No! Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, iron, and omega 3 fatty acids. They taste a bit like tiny sunflower seeds and go great in oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, granola, bars, salads, grain dishes, smoothies, and more.
Hemp seeds are becoming easier to find. Whole Foods and other health-oriented grocers carry them as do smaller health food stores. They are also available online from stores like Vegan Essentials or even Amazon. Give them a try!
(Updated from the original post, published April 2008.)