Focus on Flax
Flax has been consumed throughout history for its wonderful health and nutritional benefits. This oil producing seed, about the size of a sesame seed, contains a variety of nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and B vitamins. It is also loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and lignans (phyto or plant chemicals). These nutrients may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers such as breast, prostate and colon. Flax may also play a role in autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
Flax seed is available in reddish brown or golden varieties which are very similar in nutrient composition and have a light, nutty flavor. Regardless of which variety is purchased, it’s best to consume ground flax to obtain all the nutritional benefits. Grinding ensures that all seeds are broken up and the nutrients are available for absorption in the intestinal tract. Ground flax can be purchased in vacuum-sealed packages or you can grind the whole seeds in a coffee grinder and then store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Ground flax can be used in a variety of foods such as…
- breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles
- hot cereals (I like to add it to cream of brown rice or Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot cereal)
- cookies, cakes, fruit cobblers
- meat loaf, hamburger patties, casseroles, stews, spaghetti sauce
- rice dishes, salads
- fruit smoothies, pudding, yogurt
When adding flax to the diet, remember to start slow (about 1-2 tsp per serving in items such as hot cereal, smoothies or in pudding or yogurt) and then gradually increase the amount with time. Because flax is high in fiber, adding large quantities too quickly can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. Don’t forget to drink extra fluids as well.
Tips for Baking with Flax
Baked goods containing ground flax have a chewier texture and tend to brown more rapidly so the temperature may need to be reduced.
When adding ground flax to a recipe, extra liquid needs to be added (e.g., for every 3 Tbsp. of flax add 1Tbsp. liquid)
Flax can be used as an egg replacer. To replace 1 egg, soak 1 tsp. of ground flax in ¼ cup boiling water for 5 minutes. Cool before using. Works best in cookie and snack bar recipes.
Here is a recipe…….
Shelley Case's High-Fiber Hot Cereal
from Gluten Free Diet, page 173
This quick, heart-healthy breakfast is packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Add a spoonful of brown sugar, chopped nuts and/or dried apricots or raisins for more flavor and extra nutrients.
- 3 tbsp. Flax Seed Meal (Ground Flax)*
- 3 tbsp. Cream of Brown Rice Hot Cereal
- 1 1/3 cup water
- dash of vanilla
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium to large glass bowl.
Cook on high in a microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until thick and creamy.
Stir in vanilla.
Serve with brown sugar, nuts, and/or dried fruits.
* As flax is very high in fiber, it is important to gradually introduce it in small portions until tolerated. Start with 5 tbsp. hot cereal and 1-3 tsp. of ground flax initially and then gradually work up to 3 tbsp. flax and 3 tbsp. hot cereal. See page 105 of the book for fiber tips.
Yield: 1 cup (1 serving)
Article by Shelley Case, RD
Shelley Case, RD is a consulting dietitian, speaker and author of the national best seller Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. See www.glutenfreediet.ca