The average person in the US dumps 210 to 255 lbs of food into the trash every year, and according to the UN, roughly a third of all food intended for human consumption is thrown away. In this time of heightened awareness of the effects of climate change, it’s no surprise that the zero waste revolution is blowing up, influencing everything from skincare to fine dining restaurants. Michelin starred chef Paul Svensson says his “compost baked onion” is one of the hottest things on the menu.
If you find yourself with a load of fan leaf trim on your hands and you don’t want to trash it then you’ve come to the right place. Cannabis leaves are amazing, and here are five fantastic ways to use them.
Smoothies: The Easiest Option
Just like other green leaf smoothie staples like kale and spinach, cannabis leaf contains folate, iron, calcium, vitamin K and vitamin C, magnesium and phosphorus. It’s a good source of dietary fiber and flavonoids. Plus, it’s got the optimum ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are great for everything from joint to brain health. And it won’t get you high before work!
Note: Even though it won’t get you high, it’s still possible you could fail a drug test if you eat raw cannabis leaves, so keep this in mind.
Cannabis Leaf Smoothie Recipe
For a great super green smoothie, mix the following in a blender:
- 1/2 cup cannabis leaf
- 1/2 cup pineapple
- 1/2 an avocado
- Top up with coconut water
It’s also great to pre-prep the ingredients and freeze before blending in ziplock bags (or beeswax wrap bags if you want to be eco-friendly). That way you can grab-and-go in the morning. Yep, cannabis leaves freeze just fine – aren’t they great?!
Growing leaves at home can pose some risks of bacteria such as botulism growing on plants, so to be safe, you can blanch the leaves before freezing them. Pick them, throw them in a bowl of boiling water, fish them out, then toss them in a bowl of cold water. Pour away the water and then freeze them straight away.
Bhang: The Ultimate Nurturing Drink
Used in Indian traditions for centuries, bhang is a beautiful remedy for the immune system and gut healing. It’s a delicious-tasting, warm, milky drink that in the traditional Indian medicine system of Ayurveda is used to aid digestion and help with blood pressure. Some martial artists in Northern India also use it for insurance and concentration and to help them tolerate the extra calorie consumption needed before competing.
- Place 1/2 a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil to a large pan on medium heat.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, 1/2 ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel, 1/2 teaspoon of anise and fry for a few seconds to release the flavor of the spices.
- Turn the heat down low.
- Add 2 cups of whole milk or a can of full-fat coconut milk.
- Add 1/2 cup cannabis leaf to the pan.
- Simmer for half an hour.
- Keep stirring gently adding more milk/ coconut milk as it condenses down.
- Add a dash of rosewater and sweeten with jaggery sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste.
- Strain and serve.
Edibles: Don’t Have CBD Oil or Bud? You Can Still Use Cannabis Leaves for Edibles
You may have already heard about decarbing your leaves before eating them to activate the cannabinoids. Check out this WayofLeaf article for a comprehensive resource.
In brief, if you grind them and bake them at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 – 90 minutes (depending on the moisture level of the leaves) until they start to turn a light brown, you can then add them to anything.
Another way is to make yummy cannabis coconut butter. This is perfect for truly gourmet Keto fat balls or protein bites with a sweet twist. It’s s good staple that keeps well in an airtight jar. Don’t leave the jar near the stove or in direct sunlight as coconut oil can go rancid. This recipe can also be scaled up to double or triple depending on your crockpot size.
Cannabis Leaf Infused Coconut Oil Recipe
- Finely grind your decarboxylated leaves.
- Melt 1 cup coconut oil in a crockpot.
- Add the ground cannabis leaves and 6 cups of water.
- Leave to cook overnight.
- Once it’s cooled enough to handle but still warm and liquid, pour through a nut milk bag/cheesecloth and squeeze. Make sure to get as much of the cannabis-oil mix to pass through as possible.
- Leave the water and oil mixture in the fridge to solidify for a few hours.
- Skim the oil from the top of the water and store in an airtight jar.
Here’s a great power ball snack recipe to use your cannabis coconut butter.
1. Put all these ingredients in a blender:
- 1 tablespoon cannabis coconut butter
- 1/3 cup dates
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts
- 1 teaspoon of water
2. Blend until they form a rough paste.
3. Scoop out the mix and shape into balls.
4. Roll in chopped nuts.
They keep in the refrigerator for at least a week
Cannabis Infused Honey: Can Be Used for Baking, Raw Baking or to Add to Coffee or Tea
Get a double anti-inflammatory hit with this golden nectar. For this one, you do need to decarb the cannabis leaves in the oven as mentioned above.
Cannabis Infused Honey Recipe
- Pour 2 cups honey into the slow cooker and then add 2 cups water.
- Cut a 10-inch square of cheesecloth or use a nut milk or cold brew coffee bag. Add 2 tablespoons of ground cannabis leaves and tie shut tightly.
- Drop the bag into the honey solution in the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours.
- While still hot, wear oven gloves and carefully pour out the honey solution into a jar.
- Wipe off the excess with a paper towel and wash the crockpot before the honey has a chance to solidify or it’s tough to get off.
Cannabis Hair and Skin Cream: Takes Some Work, But Worth It
This is a multi-tasking treasure. Cannabis oil nourishes skin and hair and can affect the local endocannabinoid system of the skin. This salve can be used as a scalp treatment and as a face mask. It can also be massaged into specific areas to relieve inflammation and ease stiffness in the muscles and joints.
This is a similar process to the edible coconut butter but uses more leaves and requires a stick blender. If you don’t have one, you can just make up a stronger version of the coconut butter mentioned above and use it as a massage lotion. If you have decarbed leaves to hand, then you can use these too.
To make a smaller batch you can scale this recipe down but it becomes a bit trickier to blend with the stick blender in smaller quantities.
Cannabis Skin Cream Recipe
- Melt 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup almond oil, and 1 cup shea butter in a crockpot.
- Add 4 cups ground cannabis leaves.
- Top up with water up to the max fill line of the crockpot.
- Cook overnight,
- Squeeze through a cheesecloth bag.
- Skim off the oils and discard the water.
- Return the oils to the crockpot until they have softened again. Usually, about half an hour should do it.
- Blend with a stick blender until combined into a creamy consistency.
- Add up to 10 drops of lavender essential oil, up to 10 drops of rosemary essential oil and up to 10 drops of clary sage essential oil.
- Blend again to mix.
- Store in a glass jar.
The essential oil mix above is a good all-rounder to compliment the effects of the cannabis but isn’t necessary. Also, if you’re making it for a specific use, the following work well:
- For an alopecia scalp treatment, you may wish to add some ginger oil to the mix and reduce the other oils proportionately.
- If using for rashes or eczema, use chamomile and oregano oil – but keep it to 10 drops of oil in total.
- If using as a muscle salve, you can use 20 drops of frankincense oil. If you want to cool the muscles, add peppermint. To warm them, try juniper.
Never Waste Another Leaf!
Whether you’re using cannabis as part of your wellness practice or simply want some tasty, practical ways to use up excess leaves, hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to go zero waste with your plants. Let us know how you get on!