Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Gotta Try Flaxseed

I’m sure if you’ve seen more than one recipe that I posted (like the Super Peanut Butter Filled Brownies that I just updated to include the brownie part of the recipe, the one I use when I make it. Thanks to Mindy for pointing out that I didn’t paste that part of the recipe!), then the last thing you’d expect to see here is nutritional information. It is true that I have a dangerous sweet tooth, but I love fruit and vegetables and I do try to balance (sorta) the foods I eat.

A year or two ago, I found a recipe for a smoothie that included flaxseed. I decided to try it so I bought flaxseed for the first time. I was nervous that I wouldn’t like the taste. It is high in fiber so I was thinking wheat germ. It is definitely not like wheat germ. It has a nice nutty flavor. I’ve been using it almost everyday since then.

You can buy the whole seeds (that look kinda like colored sesame seeds) or flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed). If you do buy the seeds, you need to grind them before eating in order to get the full nutritional benefits since most of the good stuff is trapped inside. I usually just buy the flaxseed meal. There's golden flaxseed or brown flaxseed. I've heard golden has slightly more fat than the brown, but another source said there was no signicant difference.
I store it in my refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh and I’ve heard you need to store it in an opaque package so that light cannot get to it. The package I usually buy them in (unless I get it in bulk) is opaque so no problem there.

In my grocery store, I have found the flaxseed near the flour in the area where you see all the great Bob’s Red Mill products. There are a couple of other brands at some stores too. Also, I have found it at Sunflower Farmers Market and at a smaller, local health food store in bulk—both the seeds and the meal.

So what is so special about flaxseed? I am no expert, but everything that I’ve read about it makes it sound like a wonder food. Seriously!

The first reason I had to keep using it was that I saw that the oil in flaxseed is 50% Alpha-linolenic Acid, the plant version of omega-3. I learned as a young college student that omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning that our bodies need it to grow and function correctly, but it has to be consumed since our bodies can’t make them on our own. As most people know, a good source of omega-3 is fish, but I don’t eat fish (I’m strange, I know) so I immediately switched from using vegetable oil to canola oil, which has more. But when I found out (all these years later) that canola oil has only 10% compared to flaxseed’s 50%, I decided to add it to my diet.
The second reason I like flaxseed is the amazing amount of fiber packed into these shiny, little seeds! According to the Bob’s Red Mill package, “Just two tablespoons of flaxseed meal delivers 4 grams of fiber, as much fiber as 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal.” Who doesn’t need more fiber?

Flaxseed contains much higher levels of lignans than any other plant food. Lignans are natural antioxidants, so they help protect your cells against free radicals. This is great for many reasons in our awesome bodies.

There is evidence (studies are still being done to find out more) that consuming flaxseed can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. I don't want to be too much of a nerd here so if you’d like to read a little more about the benefits you can read here at:
WebMD or
The World's Healthiest Foods

How do you eat flaxseed meal? I try to eat or drink 3-4 tablespoons a day. Every time I have a smoothie, I toss in the flaxseed meal. It gives it a great taste. (One warning—the meal is sticky once wet and will stick to the side of your blender and glass if you don’t rinse it out soon after using.) I also have sprinkled it on my oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt or even ice cream. (Trying to balance things a bit, remember.) You can add a little to your baked goods like pancakes, breads, or muffins or even replace ¼ to ½ cup of flour called for in a recipe (as long as it calls for 2 cups or more of flour) with flaxseed.
Most people aren’t allergic to flaxseed, but I’ve been afraid to try it out on Sabrina so far. We do have an Epi-pen so maybe one day I’ll sneak it into chocolate chip cookies, one of the only desserts she’ll eat besides rocky road bars.

If you use flaxseed, how do you use it? If not, think you’ll be trying it now? I’m curious.

6 comments:

  1. I want to buy a GOOD blender so I can start using Flaxseed! I hear that there are some that mix it up so well that you can't taste it.. and therefore can put it in almost anything!

    I need you to e-mail me when you get a second. I need to share with you some information that I don't want to put on blogs.. :)
    annban10@gmail.com Thanks!

    ~ And thank you for the birthday wishes!

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  2. I put ground flax seed in my bread doughs, and I have put it in quick breads, also crumb toppings for muffins. Yum! People don't even know I am feeding them healthy stuff.

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  3. I have used it years ago. I put it in cookies. You've inspired me to use it again!

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  4. I made a millet loaf one time and added flax seeds to it. I didn't know you had to grind it to get all the nturients though. For a while I was taking flax seed oil pills. I still have a few left but don't take them anymore. I just bought some flax seed meal a couple of times ago at the grocery store though so I need to use it...and now I will. :o)

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  5. You make me think of my dad! He is very into healthy eating...raised us that way, so I need to get back to it. I actually have some flaxseed flour that I bought for a recipe that used maybe 1/2 cup. I'm sure I have some around here still! I am going to try it.
    And thanks for stopping by my blog, and I'm glad I came over to check out yours! I'll be back!

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