It’s late in the afternoon – about 4:20p.m. You just finished cashing a bowl of some delicious Girl Scout Cookies. The smooth smoke coats your throat – the sweet smell lingers in the room. Your body is pleasantly tingling and your mind is completely relaxed. It’s the perfect start to an evening at home: Netflix is bookmarked on your homepage, a record player sits nearby and you have a collection of glossy magazines and worn books. Suddenly, your stomach grumbles and the all-too-familiar craving settles in but, you wonder, a craving for what? Something salty might hit the spot, but the thought of something sweet also makes your mouth water.
What causes this sudden appetite increase after ingesting cannabis? For some, who suffer from severe nausea, gastrointestinal illnesses or eating disorders, this can be a welcome reprieve, easing pain or anxiety, from the constant struggle to eat enough food. Cannabis is a unique medicine because it interacts directly with endocannabinoid receptors which are found throughout our bodies — and, notably, with neurons in the brain that regulate our hunger. According to a 2015 study out of Yale, cannabis has a direct role in signaling a desire to eat.
“It’s like pressing a car’s brakes and accelerating instead,” said Tamas Horvath, the director of the Yale Program in Cell Signaling and Neurobiology of Metabolism. “We were surprised to find that the neurons we thought were responsible for shutting down eating, were suddenly being activated and promoting hunger, even when you are full. It fools the brain’s central feeding system.”
These findings are promising. With more research and legalization, cannabis may commonly be prescribed to cancer patients who often lose their appetites when undergoing treatment. Cannabis has long been known to increase appetite– particularly by interacting with the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CBR1), which contributes to overeating, but the exact mechanisms are still unknown.
“This event is key to cannabinoid-receptor-driven eating,” said Horvath. “More research is needed to validate the findings.”
Even so, the so-called “munchies” are a common result of consuming cannabis. Whether you have a insatiable sweet tooth or crave for the salty and savory, here are few recipes that are easy enough and not too time consuming, perfect for supplementing your high.
Go-To Peanut Butter Energy Balls (inspired by Deliciously Ella)
These morsels, made with a heavenly combination of nut butter, coconut, cocoa powder and more, are perfect to make and then keep on hand. Make a big batch and then keep them in the freezer for a perfect, not-too-unhealthy, snack reminiscent of cookie dough.
- 2 tablespoons of Nut Butter – Cashew, peanut, almond – whatever you like best.
- 100g of oats
- A handful of coconut flakes
- A pinch of cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- Optional: dark chocolate chips.
In a food processor, blend the coconut flakes, oats, and cocoa powder thoroughly. Once this forms a flour, add in the nut butter and coconut oil. With a spoon, fold in the chocolate chips (optional). This will result in a sticky, thick dough. With the dough, roll into balls on a cookie sheet, and leave in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Once the dough is chilled, enjoy.
Sweet Potato Fries … with a kick
These aren’t any run-of-the-mill, average sweet potato fries. These fries deliver a mouth-watering combination of peppery and sweet — ideally served with a generous portion of honey mustard.
- A sweet potato (or more, as needed), cut lengthwise into fries.
- 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Preheat oven to 350F. Blend the oil, honey, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add in the sweet potato fries and toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes.
Who doesn’t love a generous serving of guacamole with a side of crispy tortilla chips? Avocados are basically the best fruit and they contain a number of healthy fats to keep you filled up. Here’s a tip on picking out the perfect avocados: if you’re using them the same day as buying, look for avocados with a dark green skin. If the skin is too dark, turning purple, they’re too old. The chosen avos should be firm, but not rock-hard or squishy — a good balance between the two textures. You can also pick off the stem at the top of the fruit and see what color the inside is — you’re looking for a rich, bright green.
- 2 (or more) ripe avocados.
- 1 onion, finely chopped.
- 1 cubed, fresh tomato
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- Juice from a fresh lime
- Optional: freshly cut cilantro or minced serrano chilis
Making guacamole is about as easy as it gets — but getting the proportions right is a little harder. Don’t hesitate to taste the mixture while you’re making it too make sure the balance of flavors is right on. Smash the avocados with a fork until you have a smooth texture. Stir in the cubed tomato, onion, cilantro and chilis (the last two are optional). Then, add in the seasonings and lime juice. Finally, pile the guac onto a tortilla chip, on a quesadilla or just eat it with a spoon.
Popcorn, no movie theater required
Popcorn is magical. It’s good with a bit of sea-salt and butter, but try dressing it up with a number of different flavor combos. It’s a crowd-pleaser, too — make it sweet, salty, spicy or savory. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Here’s a few ideas:
- Be inspired by the flavors of the Southwest and dress up a classic bag of buttered popcorn with chili powder and lime.
- For those of us with a sweet tooth, mix a bag of caramel corn with toasted pecans and M&Ms.
- Feel super classy with a popcorn drizzled with olive oil and fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Happy munching from HMH!