Monday, June 7, 2010

Diana's Amazing Hemp 'N Half

For many years, and I mean many, I’ve experienced an off and on dilemma about what to put in my tea. Black tea, that is. A drink to which I have a longstanding allegiance.

I was introduced to tea as a child. My dad used to make me a tea drink he’d call “Concoction” – tea with lemon, honey and sugar. Very tasty. I later got hooked on sweet creamy milk tea (chai) during the ten months I lived in India in the 1980’s. In India, chai is practically a religion and I was a fervent worshipper. Once home, my conversion appeared official. What coffee is to many Americans, tea became to me. Sweet tea. With cream. For a while, it was practically my reason to get up in the morning.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when studies started coming out attesting to the health benefits of tea drinking. (For starters, it's high in antioxidant flavonoids that help support vascular health.) Even so, I'm not one to like being dependent on any substance, no matter how good it is for me. So I decided to take periodic black tea breaks – just to be sure it was me who was actually steering the ship, lol.

Today, I frequently switch up my AM beverages – at times partaking of various herbal teas, yerba maté, hot lemon water, etc. following my tall glass of pure water or lemon water. But most mornings, I enjoy a cup of black tea – either an organic bulk tea from the local tea shop or a high quality bagged tea such as Yorkshire Gold, a current favorite. Always with a spoonful of raw honey and, frequently, a "creamer."

The cream is the problem.

There just aren’t any excellent creams out there. Regular half-and-half tastes and feels pretty good in the mouth but it’s nasty stuff: ultra-pasteurized and oozing with growth hormones, antibiotics and all the other chemicals fed to conventional cows.

Organic half-and-half is a step up but it’s still ultra-pasteurized, i.e. not only dead but potentially harmful to blood vessels and brain cells due to heat-damaged protein and fat molecules.

Raw cow’s milk
will do but doesn’t provide the creaminess I’m looking for, plus after a few days, my tummy just says “no” to raw milk.

As for Silk Soy Creamer, well that was an option when I still used processed soy products, thinking them a fabulous meat/dairy substitute. Hah! I now avoid “soy foods” like the plague… for a multitude of reasons, such as: phytates (block mineral absorption), enzyme inhibitors (impair digestion), phyto-estrogens (helpful in menopause and other certain cases, but otherwise problematic in excess; linked to cancer, reproductive issues, etc), GMO’s (artificial DNA sequences; effects unknown), etc. Not to mention my general tendency to avoid highly processed fake foods. (Note: the only soy I currently consume or recommend is traditionally fermented soy – miso, tempeh, tamari – and the occasional tofu or edamame.)

So, soy milk’s out. Rice milk is too thin. Almond milk curdles in tea. Oat milk kind of works, but it’s still a highly processed product made in a factory, the original oat stripped of all energetic wholeness. What’s a tea drinker to do?

Enter my new invention. Hemp ‘n Half.

I came up with this the other day on a whim, and it worked! Thick, smooth, tasty – you name it! And so… I am very excited to share this recipe with you.

What’s to love about Hemp ‘n Half:

1. Fabulous taste – light, creamy and delicious; very similar to dairy half-and-half.
2. Mixes well into hot drinks: tea, yerba maté, coffee, Pero, mineral mochaccino, etc.
3. Contains chia seed: the world’s richest known source of omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of protein, calcium and fiber.
4. Contains hemp seed: protein-rich balanced source of omega fatty acids, high in minerals and fiber.
5. Non-dairy, lactose free, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, vegan.

Please be advised, this recipe owes it’s smooth consistency to tiny chia seed, an up and coming superfood for the 21st century. Without the chia, the cream would separate into particles in the tea.

You can read all about chia seed in my recent booklet, Chia Seed (Woodland Publishing, 2010).

Chia Seed describes the fascinating history of this ancient Aztec power food, provides a comprehensive nutritional profile, benefits and delicious recipes – from sweet nut milks to velvety soup, savory raw crackers and the Mexican lemonade drink, Chia Fresca. Find Chia Seed at health food stores, community superfoods and online. Click here to order from Amazon.

Now, I present to you, my amazing…

Hemp ‘n Half
You will be elated at how well this thick, seed-based cream blends into hot drinks and tastes surprisingly like dairy half and half.

¼ cup raw hemp seeds
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup warm, filtered water

Add all ingredients to blender container. Allow seeds to soak for fifteen minutes. Blend on high for a few minutes until thoroughly homogenized. If desired, add optional one quarter teaspoon raw honey or agave nectar (I leave this out since I prefer to sweeten my tea separately). Store Hemp ‘n Half in a tightly closed glass jar in refrigerator. Keeps very nicely for 5-7 days.

Confession: as much as I love chai, an inviting cup of Mate Latte with Hemp 'n Half gives black tea a run for it's money!


sarah said...

Thanks Diana for this post. I really like creamy in my tea and have the same dilemma. Almond is the closest I have come but the curdling ruins it for me. I will so be trying this tomorrow am. I have made the hemp milk before but adding chia seed..brillant! Hemp 'n Half, love it!

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Sarah, I can't wait to hear how the Hemp 'n Half works for you. Be sure to blend it really, really well. And allow the tea to cool down a teeny bit before adding the cream to keep it raw and alive!

Catherine Fabrizi said...

You have outdone yourself this time, Miss Diana. Hemp 'n Half - simply Brilliant! Finding the right "creamer" is a dilemma, for sure, for many folks. Thank you.
Can't wait to try it! xoxo

Jensey said...

I sure wish I could run home right now and try this!!! What a fabulous idea. Oh the joy of such creative friends ...

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Glad you like the name, Cathy! hee hee :)

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Thanks, Jensey. Hopefully you will find Hemp 'n Half worth the wait...

Fruitheart said...

Hi Diana,

This seems to be just what I have been looking for, I have also been on a mission to find the right non-dairy non soy creamer for my tea and have been enjoying hemp milk except for its propensity to separate. I just made this and it looks creamy and delicious, however, I couldn't get it to fully homogenize. Instead I am left with lots of little seed bits. Your batch looks perfectly white and creamy, did you use a Vitamix or strain? Thanks again for the awesome recipe!

-Julia from Oakland, CA

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Hi Julia, Thanks for stopping by Eat to Evolve! I do use a Vitamix and lately, I've been pre-grinding the chia seeds also. The Hemp 'n Half separates a little when first blended up but after a few shakes and some time for the chia to get fully hydrated, it does a good job keeping creamy. Hope that helps!

Diana :)

Anonymous said...

you think if you doubled the hemp seeds from 1/4 to 1/2 cup it would make a decent heavy cream equivalent?

diana allen, ms, cns said...

Good question, Anonymous. Certainly worth a try...and, depends what you're wanting the heavy cream for. Whipping? Won't stiffen into peaks, I reckon. Pouring over fresh berries? Could be delightful.

Thanks for your comment and for visiting Eat to Evolve!

Unknown said...

Hi Diana, I made this recipe last night and it was really good but when I put it in my coffee, it all settled to the bottom in a few minutes. Are there any tricks to keeping it from separating? Thanks :)

diana allen, ms, cns said...

Yes, Unknown, since first inventing and posting this recipe, I've discovered that pre-grinding the chia and hemp seeds in a seed/nut mill before blending in the Vita-Mix produces a smoother, more homogenized Hemp 'n Half. Try that and I'm sure you'll get great results! Be sure your coffee is not scalding hot, too. You can also play with the proportions. I've been getting great results lately with 1/3 cup hemp seeds, 1 tsp chia and 1 cup water. Cheers!

Unknown said...

I'll give that a try. I have a Blendtec so I think I can probably come close to the Vitamix. Does it have the same thickness when you reduce the chia to 1 tsp instead of the Tbs? I'm excited for the new batch. Thanks! Lisa~

Unknown said...

Also, I forgot to ask, do you think a coffee grinder would work?

diana allen, ms, cns said...

Hi Lisa, Absolutely—a coffee grinder would definitely work. And since you're using it for coffee, perfect! As for thickness, I think it's about the same because I increased the hemp seeds, but I'll go back and try it the other way next time to compare. Chia adds silkiness as well as body. It's nice in soups for that, too. (:

diana allen, ms, cns said...

Lisa, I made coffee today... and I see what you mean! Same as you, my Hemp 'n Half did not remain smoothly mixed into the coffee, like it does in my black tea. (Maybe due to higher acidity of coffee? Or to different particulate density of coffee vs black tea?) Anyway, it only needed a quick stir to blend it back in, so my solution was to keep a chopstick handy and give it a little swirl, pre-sipping. While this worked like a charm to reblend, I admit it took something away from the aesthetics of the coffee-with-cream drinking experience. Thank you for alerting me to this effect! I typically am a tea drinker and hadn't tested before with coffee. ~d~

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,
Thank you so much for coming up with this idea. I am transitioning to a healthy diet but cannot give up that "cream in the coffee" feel good moment in the mornings. Here's my question: I love my coffee to be hot. So, what happens or what is the problem with having the coffee hot? I am about to try making the HempNHalf now using the pre-grind method.

diana allen, ms, cns said...

Greetings, Anon ~ Thanks for visiting my blog. You may find if the coffee is very hot that the Hemp 'n Half will have a tendency to separate. However, if you are willing to give a swirl with a spoon before sipping, it should mix back in to create a nice, creamy appearance for you to drink. I hope you enjoy your new "creamer"! All the best, Diana :~)