Cookies and … Hemp Milk?

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Hemp BlissAlisa Fleming, Dairy Free Made Easy – When I first read the announcement that “hemp milk” was hitting the market, I was curious, but apprehensive.  It sounded like a bit of a stretch.  Then, when I heard a second company was releasing their own “hemp milk,” I thought “come on, there isn’t room for two brands already, is there?”

Yet, as someone who must trial everything that qualifies as both “creamy” and dairy-free, I had to check these products out.  Both brands come in Original, Chocolate, and Vanilla flavors, so I armed myself with a package of each and started pouring.  The discovery was far more than I had anticipated.  Not only were both brands excellent, but they also seemed to be targeting two completely different markets.  It was as if one brand was picking up the slack where the other left off.

HempmilkI have written detailed reviews for Hemp Bliss from Manitoba Harvest and Hempmilk from Living Harvest, both of which are viewable on Go Dairy Free.  However, after discovering their individuality, I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of these similar yet very different products.

First off, the similarities:

  • Both are rich in those wonderful Omega 3’s
  • Both are free of all top allergens: milk/dairy, wheat/gluten, soy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, and as I would hope, fish and shellfish.
  • Both are quite “milky” and can be swapped one for one for milk in most applications, and certainly over cereal.
  • Both are made primarily from water and hemp seeds

This seems to be where the likenesses end with these fraternal twins.  When it comes to image, ingredients, nutrients, look, and taste, they begin to diverge…

The Image:
Hemp Bliss – The sophisticated packaging design is smooth and inviting, a definite appeal to the higher end consumer, health fanatics, and adults in general.
Hempmilk – Bright and colorful, this brand has more kid-appeal.  I watched as the cheerful packaging caught the eye of a tot sitting in a shopping cart.

The Ingredients:
Hemp Bliss – Once again reaching out to adults, Hemp Bliss is certified organic and truly all natural.  With just filtered water, organic hemp seeds, organic evaporated cane juice, sea salt, and xanthan gum, I really new what I was getting.
Hempmilk – While still considered by most to be all natural, Hempmilk does contain synthetic vitamins, and it doesn’t strive for an organic labeling.

The Nutrients:
Hemp Bliss – While both are generous in the Omega 3 / Omega 6 department, Hemp Bliss boasts just a bit more essential fatty acid power.  Likewise, it is a bit higher in fat.  Contrary to what you might think, this is a huge plus for milk alternatives, which often verge on too low in fat for children and many applications.  Hemp Bliss is also much lower in sugar, always a plus in my book.
Hempmilk – As noted, Hempmilk is fortified, unlike Hemp Bliss.  Those concerned about calcium may be overjoyed by the 46% of the RDA for calcium in each serving.  Not to mention the added boost of other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, B12, and D.  Unfortunately, Hempmilk is quite high in sugar.

The “Milk”:
Hemp Bliss – I was surprised yet pleased to pour a glass of liquid that was obviously not whitened.  The Hemp Bliss had a very natural color, and appeared to be a very lightly processed food.  However, try to get one of my less-than-healthy young nieces to take a sip of the light brownish milk, and she might just snub her nose at it.  Unfortunately, I was all out of this variety by the time they arrived, so my theory could not be tested.

Hemp Bliss

Hempmilk – The creamy light beige color is very appealing to the eye, though it didn’t strike me as the true color of hemp.  Nonetheless, this one was in fact an easy sell to my nieces, at least atop their cereal and in homemade smoothies.

Living Harvest Hempmilk

The Taste:
Hemp Bliss – I will only briefly address this, since my reviews go into great detail.  The rich and creamy consistency was greatly enjoyed, while the “nutty” notes were found to be tasty and intriguing.  The obvious hemp scent was a bit strong in the original and vanilla, and a bit too earthy for some.  Overall, the original and chocolate were definite winners, but the vanilla was just a bit too potent in flavor.
Hempmilk – Still milky, yet thinner, the Hempmilk was a ‘must shake’ before pouring.  It seemed to retain a watery aftertaste when not properly mixed.  Nonetheless, it had a closer to milk taste, if not sweetened a tad too much.  It was very fluid, and mild in flavor with only light “nutty” notes that snuck easily past my nieces.  My husband proclaimed the chocolate variety to be true chocolate “milk.”

What’s New:
Hemp Bliss: Contrary to the adult vibe I felt from Hemp Bliss, they are coming out with lunchbox size milk boxes for kids.  They are also coming out with an unsweetened variety, which I am eager to get my hands on.  With no sugar, it is sure to be excellent in savory applications or for keeping our sugars down in general.
Hempmilk: The two companies seem to be crossing lines, as Living Harvest may be targeting more of the adult market.  I have heard rumor that a Vanilla Chai flavor is on the horizon.  They caught my attention with Vanilla and have already sold me with Chai.

My Verdict:  Honestly, my family liked them both.  They each offer qualities that the other doesn’t, and I believe this will help to expand the appeal of hemp milk in general.  I would likely repurchase the Hemp Bliss first for a few key reasons.  Since it is lower in sugar, we can use it as an everyday “milk.”  I also like the fat profile for low heat cooking applications (below 350ºF).  Finally, for myself, it is hard not to choose organic over conventional, especially since I tend to like “hearty” foods best.  Even my sugar-addicted husband preferred the richness of the chocolate Hemp Bliss.  However, I may just have to pick up some of that Vanilla Chai if it hits my grocer’s shelves.

Both brands are being shipped to stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The roll out is huge, so you should be able to find one brand or another very soon.  If not, just visit the Manitoba Harvest and Living Harvest websites to purchase direct.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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