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Hemp is utilized across the globe in a range of useful products, from fabric, paper and rope to cosmetics, fuels and even food. The seeds of hemp are protein-rich — soybeans are the only plant that provides more amino acids — and often are counted on to supplement a diet lacking in animal proteins. Hemp bread, made from crushed-seed flour, boasts all eight amino acids that the body needs to thrive.
Many who are living vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free lifestyles hail the use of hemp seeds in recipes like hemp bread for the protein punch they deliver. Finely crushed into a flour, removing all oils, hemp seeds often are used in concert with other binding proteins like teff, potato starch, arrowroot powder and rice flour to provide a well-rounded nutritional package for sandwiches and spreads. Most of the other ingredients in hemp bread are similar to that of other breads: salt, sugar, yeast, oil and baking soda.
The recipes for hemp bread vary from the savory to the hyper-sweet. Sandwich varieties include ingredients like garlic, onion powder, more salt and less sugar. When sweet bread is being made, less salt and more sugar is included, along with natural sweeteners like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, jellies or whole pieces of fruit. The opportunities for experimentation are many.
One recipe for hemp bread, a gluten-free loaf, contains a diverse combination of nutrients. Formed in a standard-size bread pan, it contains hemp, brown rice, teff and tapioca flours as well as salt, xanthan gum, water, yeast, cane sugar, olive oil, honey, cider vinegar and arrowroot powder. It takes 60 minutes baking at 350°F (about 182.2°C) to complete.
The end result is a nutritious bread with marketing potential, despite occasional worries about legality. Hemp seeds and their products are legal, as long as the seeds were produced by a strain of hemp that does not produce marijuana buds, the THC-laden pot plant known as Cannabis sativa. According to an interview with Lynn Gordon of California's French Meadow Bakery, hemp bread has been an on again/off again possibility at her bakery since 2000, depending on the legalities associated with marijuana and its seeds. The state loosened its grip on marijuana production in 1996 when it approved the drug for medicinal use, but possession and cultivation is still illegal to the population without a prescription. To be safe, it is best to make hemp bread with hemp seeds, not Cannabis sativa seeds.