Flax Seeds and Flax Meal

>> Monday, July 23, 2012

I hope you don't mind, but I enjoy going back to the basics from time to time. I feel like I post a lot of recipes and don't always explain the ingredients or methods -- the hows and the whys. I am planning to do a series on topics like this one over the next couple months.

(Sort of like our Food for Runners series!)

Of course, I'm sure you've heard of flax clothing. But if you've strolled around the natural foods section at your grocery store, chances are you've seen flax seeds and flax meal in bags or in bulk bins.

Consuming the seeds is well worth it. Health Benefits, according to WebMD:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. 
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods. 
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.

You may want to use ground versus whole because with the hard seed shell, it's difficult for the body to break down and absorb otherwise.

Regarding storage: "Whole flax seeds are chemically stable. Ground flaxseed can go rancid at room temperature in as little as one week." (Source)

The easiest way to enjoy the benefits of flax seeds is to add flax meal to smoothies or sauces. A tablespoon tossed into a smoothie or Vegenaise, for example, is a super simple addition. Don't add much more than a tablespoon, as you'll understand in a minute.

We often use flax meal as a replacement for eggs in baking. When you add water, especially if it is warm, you'll get an almost gel-like substance that helps stabilize and bind together baked goods. So, added nutrition AND sans-eggs.

One egg equals 1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water. Let sit for a couple minutes. Then add as normal.

If you'd rather eat the seeds, you can make crackers. The recipe is simple and the cracker is extremely interesting and worth making at least once if you're curious. Here's our recipe, which -- minus spices -- only requires three ingredients!

We've also made Fluffy Flax Pancakes and Flax and Wheat Bagels, among other things. But if you search for "flax" in the search box near the top of the page, you'll discover that many of our recipes incorporate the ingredient!

Do you use flax in your cooking/baking? Or do you consume flax oil supplements? It's a great source of omega-3s for vegans. I definitely took advantage of it during my pregnancy with Ada.

PS: Today on Writing Chapter Three, I've listed some of my favorite DIY projects for my hippie baby.

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