Pantry Tips and Tricks # 1: Flax Seeds

Who knew flax seeds came from such pretty blue flowers?

They’re healthy…

Flax seeds are the tiny, shiny products of the reproductive attempts of Linum usitatissimum. In whole or ground form, they are a popular, high-fiber health food found in many hippy-crunchy cereals and granolas. Aside from a handful of vitamins and minerals, flax seeds contain notable amounts of lignans. Lignans are plant chemicals (phytochemicals), recognized as anti-oxidants, which help protect cells against cancer. They also contain alpha linolenic acid, or ALA, an Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3’s are the important, “good fats,” (Omega-6’s are the bad ones). The consumption of Omega-3’s have been linked to better heart health, decreases in bad cholesterol, and prevention of harmful inflammation.

YAY!

In baking…

When ground flax seeds (flax meal) are mixed with warm water they take on a new, gelatinous nature. In a recipe, it acts as a binding agent (to hold your ingredients together). This goopy mixture is reminiscent of egg white, and therefore makes an excellent replacement for eggs in vegan recipes. Flax can also impart an impressive crispiness to baked goods when cool.

Using flax meal instead of an egg will up your fiber intake, spare you the cholesterol, and will not harm a chicken.

How to…

To replace one egg in a non-vegan recipe with flax meal, simply mix 1 tablespoon of flax meal with two tablespoons of warm water. Set it aside and let it congeal before mixing it in with the rest of your ingredients.

Here's the goop.

Whole flax seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder to make flax meal. Flax meal can also be purchased pre-ground. Grinding your own flax seeds insure that the flax meal is fresh. If pre-ground flax is your choice (because you live on a shoestring in an apartment with a tiny kitchen and therefore have no money or space for a coffee grinder) it should be refrigerated.

I always have this stuff on hand.

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