Hempesan (Raw, Vegan Parmesan Topping)

by Gena on March 24, 2010


Hey guys,

GREAT feedback on yesterday’s post! It was so interesting to hear how you all negotiate the zone between eating consciously, but without dogma and fear. Thanks for chiming in!

It’s no great secret that parmigiano-reggiano — or Parmesan, as we like to call it here in the US of A — is one of the world’s most beloved cheeses. No surprise there: it’s salty and unmistakably flavorful, and a little goes a long way. So what do those of us who aren’t into the fromage do to replicate some of that effect? Well, we have a few options. There’s Parma, a product I love: vegan, raw, and out-of-control tasty, it’s sure to add flavor to your dishes. There’s Rawmesan, which I haven’t tried, but looks pretty good, too. There’s Galaxy’s vegan Parmesan, which isn’t raw, but if your body tolerates soy nicely, is a tasty alternative (and great for those who are used to a more traditional Parmesan texture). And for those of us who like to keep things really simple, there’s always a healthy sprinkle of nooch.

Last night, as I threw together some raw pasta leftovers, I noticed that I had only a few tablespoons of nooch left in my pantry. I also noted that I was down to a few tablespoons of hemp nuts. I’d wanted to experiment with a light, yet protein and nutrient rich topping for a while — especially since many of my clients are in search of a parmesan substitute. So I decided to experiment with a hemp based “cheese.” Into my food processor went 3 tbsp of hemp seeds and 3 tbsp of nooch. I pulsed for a few moments, and came up with this:


It was absolutely delicious! And a wonderful offering to my clients who are a little worried about protein intake with a mostly vegan diet: hemp seeds, as we know, are a rich source of complete protein, and nutritional yeast packs eight grams in a tablespoon and a half. I’ll definitely be recommending this topping to clients, and enjoying it’s nutty, salty, and earthy taste myself.

Last night was also a fun exercise in leftover usage. I have a small vat of carrotini dressing at home, and I’ve been wondering how I’ll make a dent before it goes off. Since I also had some spare zucchini, I decided that carrotini noodles would be the order of the day. The recipe? No recipe. Just one spiralized zuke, 1 cup of chopped mixed veggies, and about a quarter cup of carrotini dressing mixed in, like so:

010-500x375 011-500x375

Then, of course, came a small mountain of the hemp-esan:


Along with some steamed broc and cauliflower, it was a tasty and hasty meal:


Two thumbs up! I admit, I’m not a leftover fan: I love variety, and leftovers don’t give me much room for that. But when leftovers offer me new and unexpected ideas for using up a dish I’ve already made (like turning a salad dressing into a “pasta” sauce), well hey, that’s pretty cool.

What about you guys: leftover fans? Not so much? Would love to know! More importantly, let me know what you think of hemp-esan. I’m a fan :-)

Happy hump day, all.


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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet March 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I am really intrigued by Parma. I clicked on that link but it isn’t working for me. Do you buy it online??


Gena March 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm


Just updated the link to Veganessentials.com — try that one!



brandi March 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I LOVE leftovers, and we live off of them regularly. With only 2 people in the house, it’s just part of life!

What’s your favorite thing to do with hemp seeds (that doesn’t require a food processor)? I have a little sample packet that I want to use, but want some good suggestions! And I’m only asking for no food processor because ours broke months ago and we still don’t have one!!!


Tyrah March 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Brandi, I love to add them to smoothies I think it makes them creamy and adds protein too.


Teri [a foodie stays fit] March 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I love leftovers since it makes it easy to pack my lunch! That hemp-nooch blend sounds awesome! I’ve never bought hemp seeds before but I might have to now! I loved the nooch-cashew “cheese” from Clean Food so I bet I’d like this too!


Naomi (onefitfoodie) March 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I want a spirilizer so I can make pasta like this! what a beautiful dish!! like Jess, I tried the link to PARMA and it didn’t work, I am intrigued as well!


Tyrah March 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm

hemp-esan sounds great! definitely going to try that when we get more hemp seeds. We love Parma here and have been making our own now, our local Whole Foods carry it. I usually eat leftovers for lunch most days, like Brandi said it’s just part of life in a small household.


Chocolate-Covered Katie March 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Oh Gena, your photos are always so vibrant! Kinda like you, yourself ;)

P.S. I loved your last coconutty post. Excited to hear about the coconut butter-making!!


Stephanie March 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Joann Stepaniak’s parmesan is similar but uses chickpea miso.


I make it with hemp. Sometimes I use soy miso. I think the miso adds a nice “aged” flavor.


Lauren March 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I will have to try this!! I have the ingredients in my fridge at all times! I love Parma, this seems like a great alternative!

I am with you, I am not a leftover person, unless it’s really good! I like variety!


Victoria March 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Ok… I am totally new here and just as new to exploring the vegan/raw lifestyle. And I love your site Gena because of all of the information it is. It is the most helpful site I have found in all of my looking… ANYWAY I have a question. So your “pasta” was zuccini? Do you not eat carbs like bread, pasta ect? And is that because of the vegan or raw or both? What about vegitarians, do they eat pasta and bread and such? Just wondering… Im still trying to figure all this stuff out… Thanks!!


Gena March 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hold that thought, Victoria: I absolutely DO NOT avoid grains or carbs. I eat plenty of whole grains (oats, quinoa, barley, rice, millet, teff, amaranth, and the list goes on) and sprouted breads. I also like buckwheat noodles and brown rice pasta.

I enjoy zucchini pasta purely for its own merits: I love zucchini, and think it’s fun and tasty to play around with it. It’s a nice alternative to the norm. But no, avoiding grains isn’t at all a part of my veganism. Some strict raw foodists do, but not me.

Hope this helps!


Victoria March 25, 2010 at 6:21 am

It did help a lot! Thanks so much!


Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) March 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

You have to be a leftover fan when you’re only feeding yourself! Do you think I could use hemp powder for the parma-substitute or is that too finely ground? Great idea!


Ameena March 24, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I am such a fan of leftovers because then I can get a much needed break from cooking!

Love your hemp-esan idea and name. Pretty funny actually!


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg March 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Ooh, I just bought some hemp seeds! I’ll have to give this a try! I love tasty non-dairy alternatives.


falalaraw March 24, 2010 at 2:25 pm

the more colorful of plates the more the food calls out for me. Presence is big for me and especially seeing vegetables rainbow like my mouth waters at the appeal of ALL THOSE NUTRIENTS!

I have 2 problems with carrots and was wondering if you can give advice about this…
1. I absolutely love carrots! They are one of my favorite vegetables by far
2. They turn my skin orange, legit orange. Like i walked out of a bath of fake orange tanner.

Do you have any trouble with the beta-carotin? or do you find juicing instead of eating carrots it helps? Any advice, Please! I am missing out on my carrot loving because i am so embarrassed that i am orange.


Gena March 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Hi there —

Oof! That’s too bad, about carrots. I’ve never had an orange issue, but I do know some who do. Sadly, decreasing consumption seems to be the only real cure.

As for nooch, it’s vegan shorthand for nutritional yeast.



falalaraw March 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm



Evan Thomas March 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Mmm hempesan sounds like the thing to try! I kind of am loving parma right now, especially the chipotle cayenne!


Christine (The Raw Project) March 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Hempesan does sound good, I also enjoy ground Brazil nuts or cashews with garlic and salt as an alternative. Great post with interesting products, thanks!


melissa March 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Creative girl! Rawmesan is decent. But I think you win for overall nutritional benefits with the hemp/nooch combo. yay b12! I also really loved your last post. I finally started taking a multi-vitamin and already feel better, i think despite all the spinach i eat, i still needed more iron. could be the placebo effect, but it can’t hurt.


BroccoliHut March 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Love the sound of hempesan! I’ve been looking for a good brand of hemp seeds–do you have one to recommend?


Gena March 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Yup — I’m a Nutiva fan!


bitt March 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I use hemp on my salads all the time. I’ve heard of brazil nuts and nutro but not hemp and nutro. I just love the flavor of hemp.


Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) March 24, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Hemp-esan? YUM! I love a little parm on my pasta… I need to try this!!

I’m good with leftovers- but only for lunch. I can’t stand leftovers for dinner!!



emptyjar March 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm

gena, if u want a roommate in nyc…and can give me a job (i am a hard worker!) let me know :)
i think living in new york seems so neat…i am not raw, but u don’t discriminate i am sure.
love hemp seeds.


Gena March 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm

No way I’d discriminate! Sounds lovely :)


Meg's Gut March 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Sounds really yummy, do you think other types of seeds would work, ie – pumpkin or sunflower?

When it comes to leftovers, I love them! I think they’re even better then the day before. I know a lot of people who aren’t leftover fans though. I can only do leftovers once though, I couldn’t do leftovers three days in a row, too much of something good – it over does it!


Gena March 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Sure, Meg: I think pumpkin would work nicely.


Melissa March 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I am a huge left-overs fan. I don’t know if its the fact that I get to enjoy something delicious two days in a row or if it gives me a break from the kitchen, but I love it! But, if it drags on more than two days then its not as good. I usually get the itch to make something new by then.
The hemp-esan looks awesome! I’m so trying that tonight and how simple. Thanks for sharing your kitchen experiments:)


Elese March 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Yumm…that looks good. Going to have to try it! I love putting nutritional yeast on top of steamed veggies with a little bit of EEOV, but have never thought to also incorporate hemp seeds. Another hit Gena!

Admittedly, I am really bad about using leftovers (it does not help that I live two blocks from whole foods). It is not that I don’t like them, it’s that I usually need “just one more thing” and end up stopping. It is definitely a habit that I am trying to break, because I usually have something that would suffice for the evening at home.


Mimi (Damn the Freshman 15) March 24, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Ooo! I’ve been adding a little bit of hemp protein powder to a few of my dressings, usually when I’m having lunch soon after a workout. I think I might have to break out the noosh! I also have hempseed butter. Thanks for the great idea!


kelli March 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm

your hemp-esan is amazing! bravo! i made it and blogged about it already.=) thank you for sharing this wonderful post, gina!


Laura March 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Looks like a marriage of my two most recent food obsessions! I’m still in the honeymoon phase with nooch… it’s been on everything this week- kale chips, broccoli, spinach, salad dressing, toast… you name it! I also tried “We can’t say it’s cheese” this week- mixes oatmeal and seeds, but a very tasty vegan cheese option.


Sara March 25, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hi Gena,

So I’ve heard the nooch is made from some of the same things as MSG, and I’m really allergic to MSG. Any suggestions for getting that “cheesy” flavor without nutritional yeast?



Gena March 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

I can’t think of anything “cheesy,” Sara, but salt and hemp seeds would be tasty on their own.


anne March 25, 2010 at 9:24 am

My husband and I love leftovers! We typically make a 4 person meals in order to have leftovers!

Question for you: would you suggest avoiding nutritional yeast if you’ve suffered from candida overgrowth in the past?


Gena March 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

Hi Anne —

I actually don’t think that nooch is problematic for candida, though purely for the sake of being super safe, I tell those who have candida overgrowth for certain to avoid it while they treat their symptoms. As soon as you clear up, you can enjoy it in moderation again. So if you had candida in the past but are asymptomatic now, it should be fine.



Manda March 25, 2010 at 9:31 am

Oh— same question as Anne above regarding nutritional yeast and candida ;)


La March 25, 2010 at 10:22 am

Well now I officially have reasons to try hemp and nooch.


Manda March 25, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’ve been to a number of different sites, but can you outline the symptoms of candida or point me in the direction of one of your posts that does.. I’m not entirely sure if I’m asymptomatic.. Thanks Gena!!


Joy R3FitShow March 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

I am always looking for new recipes for Tahini bcs I do not particularly care for the taste. I will try this one because it sounds promising.


Katherine March 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Wow I would love to try this. How long can you keep a jar of Tahini? I don’t want to buy an entire one unless I’m sure I’ll get my use out of it. Do you have any recommendations for first-timers or for brands to purchase?



Bianca- Vegan Crunk March 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I live for leftovers. I only cook about three days a week, and I eat leftovers for lunches all week. I never tire of eating the same thing, so long as its delicious. But finding new uses for leftovers can be fun. That carrotini dressing looks beautiful on the zuke noodles, as does the hemp parm.


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) March 25, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Awesome. I’ve made a vegan parm recipe (from Pumpkin & Pomegranate blog) a couple times now and love it – I try to keep some on hand all the time. I don’t miss real parm at all!


Mikah @ Positively Vegan March 25, 2010 at 8:23 pm

For some reason, you always have the most simple wonderful ideas that I could never think of myself! I have a raw salad dressing I need to use up. I’m totally going to dress some zucchini pasta with it. Yum! Thanks!


Stacy March 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm

I know this sounds silly, but have not heard of nooch before…is that short for nutritional cheese?

Went to the linked website and which yeast do you use for the cheesy taste?
* Red Star® Active Dry Yeast
* Red Star® Quick Rise Yeast
* Red Star® Bread Machine Yeast
* Red Star® Cake Yeast
Thanks :)


Vegyogini March 25, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I always sprinkle 1 teaspoon each of hemp seed and ground flax on my salads, so when I saw this post, I added 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast to the mix. What a winning combination! I’m happy for a way to add nutritional yeast into my normal daily intake. Thanks!


Tracie @Hollafoodzone March 25, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Thanks for the info on vegan parmesan. I have tried lots of different nut “cheeses”, but have not come across any info about parmesan-like cheeses. Now I have some!


Marianne March 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I like your hemp/nooch combo. Since I do eat cheese, I would still go for the parmesan if I’m wanting parmesan, but I would try out the hemp/nooch for something different. Plus I usually have both of those in the house :)

And I’m all about the leftovers – I like knowing there’s something ready to go in my fridge or freezer, or playing around with it to reinvent it into something else.


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