Weird foods: Hemp Seeds

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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.

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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.)

Strawberry banana mini muffins

Nothing says spring quite like strawberries from a roadside stand. We have managed to find a couple that are open this month and I'm amazed at how quickly we finish off pint after pint of berries!

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My kids' preschool had an Easter egg hunt this week and I brought these mini muffins to share. They are the perfect spring treat for kids and adults! Because the wet ingredients are mixed in the blender, feel free to get sneaky by adding nut or seed butter, seeds, protein powder, veggies, etc. 

If you're feeling extra fancy, I think a few white chocolate chips would knock these out of the park (but, as usual, you didn't hear that from me)!

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Strawberry Banana Mini Muffins (vegan)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large extra ripe banana
3/4 cup vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tbsp canola or other oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F (176º C). Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine banana, milk, flaxseeds, brown sugar, oil, salt, and vanilla. Puree until smooth. Pour into bowl with flour mixture and mix to combine then fold in strawberries. Please don't over-mix!
  4. Fill mini muffin cups level with the top and bake muffins for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
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Springtime moments and upcoming "weird foods"

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I have been busy with so many things over the past couple of weeks. From training for and running a 12k (7.46 mile) race to control-freaking the details of some upcoming travel. Meals have been quick and un-special. Days have been sneezy (I've been using the heck out of my sinus rinse bottle).

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We've been picking wildflowers...

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...and even enjoying a "campfire" in our backyard.

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Over the next several weeks I will be traveling on and off. To places that are remote and unconnected and places that are not-so-far or off the grid. I'll blog when I can and share some of our adventures. In the spaces between, I plan to republish a series of posts that I wrote for my Allibrew blog a while back on "weird foods". These are things that are less commonly found at mainstream stores and that may appear in recipes that you find from vegan or vegetarian sources.

One of the main things that I strive to do here on Get Natured is to remove the mystery that seems to surround "vegetarian food". I want to dispel the myth that eating a plant-based diet is complicated and strange! Hopefully my "weird food" posts will help with that part of my mission. If you have a request for a certain food to be covered, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail (allison@getnatured.com)!

(PS- Can you tell that I've been having fun with the Camera+ iPhone app?)

My roots and fresh-squeezed OJ

I lived in Southern California until I was eight. Since I learned to eat in a place where avocados and other magical things grow in the backyard, I am forever ruined. I have zero tolerance for bad avocados. I will not (WILL NOT) drink orange juice "from concentrate" (what the H does "from concentrate" mean anyway?). I prefer limeade to lemon. I know what sapotes (aka sapodillas), loquats, and guavas taste like. I know how to crack open a macadamia nut with a vice and I love the sound of chickens making chickeny sounds in the beams of early morning sunlight. Those are my roots.

Back in 2002 my dad gave me three little citrus trees for Christmas. These poor trees have been through a lot! They have been moved a few times. They have spent nights in freezing temps without a blanket. They are troopers, my trees.

This year, for the first time EVER, one of the trees actually produced fruit! On Sunday morning, we (in our pajamas, no less!) picked 10 oranges from our little tree and made some juice. The best orange juice ever, actually!

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twisting oranges off of tree

kids picking oranges

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homegrown oranges

I peeled and quartered the oranges then placed them in the freezer for just a little while to get them really cold.

oranges in our backyard

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cut orange

Then the boys made juice!

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When we make the juice this way, it is so frothy and sweet- not acidic at all. So, so, SO good!

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frothy orange juice

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Perfection.

What do you crave from your childhood?