Hempesan (Raw, Vegan Parmesan Topping)


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:


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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  1. It’s going to be finish of mine day, but before finish I am
    reading this impressive article to improve my know-how.

  2. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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 Starยฎ Active Dry Yeast
    * Red Starยฎ Quick Rise Yeast
    * Red Starยฎ Bread Machine Yeast
    * Red Starยฎ Cake Yeast
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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?


  9. 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.

  10. 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!!

  11. Oh— same question as Anne above regarding nutritional yeast and candida ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. 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?

    • 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.


  13. 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?


  14. 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.

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

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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:)

  19. 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!

  20. gena, if u want a roommate in nyc…and can give me a job (i am a hard worker!) let me know ๐Ÿ™‚
    i think living in new york seems so neat…i am not raw, but u don’t discriminate i am sure.
    love hemp seeds.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

    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.

    • 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.


  24. 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!

  25. 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!!

    • 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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!!!