You know I love a good dairy alternative (don’t you?). As marijuana and marijuana-related products have increased in popularity in the last few years, so has the use of hemp. Hemp is related to the marijuana plant, but has an incredibly low (around 0.5%) percentage of THC, the mind-altering compound in marijuana. Marijuana plants will have around 15% THC. Therefore, hemp products will not actually get you high. But hemp does have a multitude of industrial uses, as the plant grows quickly and has strong fibers. In the last few years products ranging from hemp lotion to hemp milk have become quite popular. And it doesn’t taste bad!

Hemp milk is a great alternative to dairy or other nondairy beverages. Unfortunately, it cannot be grown in the United States, so the hemp seeds used to make hemp milk must be obtained from plants grown in Canada or Europe. Hemp milk can be purchased at a variety of health food stores across the US, but it is also incredibly easy to make at home. Once shelled hemp seeds are purchased, they need to be blended with water for 2-4 minutes. The amount of water added controls the consistency of the milk. Adding more water will cause the liquid to resemble nonfat milk more than whole milk. After blending to desired consistency, sweetener can be added. It is then possible to strain the liquid through cheesecloth. It is best to make the milk in small batches and drink it quickly. The seed pulp makes excellent compost.

Hemp milk has a number of health benefits due to the vitamins and minerals it contains. Unsweetened hemp milk contains no sugar, cholesterol, soy, or gluten. It is also low in saturated fat but high in essential fatty acids. One cup of milk contains between one-third and one-half of the calcium an adult needs in a day as well as around a third of the phosphorous. These are both essential to bone health. Among others, hemp milk provides vitamins B and D as well as magnesium. These are all essential for healthy tissues and red blood cells. Vitamin D and magnesium are involved in the pathway that allows the body to store calcium. In summary, if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to dairy, don’t rule out hemp milk for fear it will alter your mind. It won’t and it will provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function.