Ingredient of the week * flax seed
Flax seeds are the richest commonly available seed source of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3′s). Alpha-linolenic acid is one of the essential fatty acids – “essential” because they cannot be produced within the body and must be acquired through diet. Most oils and their corresponding seeds contain more omega-6′s, so it’s good to work on getting more omega-3′s to achieve an optimum balance.
If you are trying to restore the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet, you may want to eat a tablespoon or two of flax seeds every day. Some experts recommend eating whole flax seed rather than flax seed oil because you get the whole package: the protein, fiber, minerals and phytochemicals along with the omega-3′s.
20 grams of flax seed (2 Tablespoons) yields about:
7 grams of fat (60% omega-3 polyunsaturated, 18% monounsaturated, 10% saturated)
5 grams of protein
5 grams of fiber (3 grams insoluble, 2 grams soluble)
1 gram of minerals
2 grams of water
Flax seeds are also the best source of the phytochemical lignan (not to be confused with lignins, a type of fiber). Flax contains 100 times the concentration of lignan as wheat bran, the next best source. This phytochemical is believed to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties
Unless you do something to break the hard outer coating of the flax seeds, they may pass through your body undigested. Whirl them in a blender for a few seconds to break them into rough pieces, or mash them with a mortar and pestle. Or you can grind them into a meal with a coffee mill or spice grinder. You can also buy flax meal already ground – although it may go rancid more quickly than the whole seed.
Omega-3′s are the least stable of the fatty acids, so the oil turns rancid quickly if it is exposed to heat, light or air. Grind the seeds shortly before you eat them, and store any surplus in the refrigerator or freezer. Flax oil should also be stored in the refrigerator, with the cap tightly closed. Do not buy flax oil from a shelf, only from a refrigerator.
Sprinkle your seeds on cereal or salads, into smoothies, or on just about any other food. They have very little flavor and just a bit of crunch. If they taste unpleasant, they’re rancid and you need a new batch.
A caution: you should not eat more than three or four tablespoons of raw flax seeds a day (we think one or two is plenty.) They contain cyanogen which is harmless in small amounts, but in large amounts can act to keep your thyroid from taking up enough iodine. Cyanogen is rendered inactive by cooking. But the omega-3′s are compromised, too.
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of ground flax seeds to your daily healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and other seeds.
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Our recipe today supports vegan baking. Ground flax, when combined with water, makes a flax slurry. This is sometimes called flax eggs, and it can often be used in place of eggs. It has the consistency of egg whites.
egg replacer for vegan baking
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup water
Grind flax seeds in spice grinder. Transfer to blender or food processor. Turn processor/blender on, and slowly add the water. Blend till mixed well and consistency of a milkshake. Store in fridge in well sealed container. Use 3 Tablespoons for every egg in baking recipes. Will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Photo by Kermo Perkele