Know how I’m always going on about how you need more Omega-3s in your diet? Well, today’s ingredient is here to help! Especially if you’re vegan/vegetarian and can’t eat fish or fish oil. Flax is ready to help you hit your healthy fat targets!
Today’s Ingredient: Flax
What is it?
Flax is a food and fiber crop – it’s used to make linen and linseed oil, but its seeds also have tons of nutritional value. It was cultivated as early as 3000 BC and for good reason. Consumer demand for flax has steadily grown and folks are learning all about the benefits these seeds can bring.
Why is it good for me?
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids: Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. For example, those “Omega-3 eggs” that you can buy are from chickens who have been fed flax seed.
- Lignans: Which have antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed has a ton of them.
- Fiber: Both soluble and insoluble, so flax will help keep you regular, plus they’re low in carbohydrates
- Gluten-Free: Flax is an awesome way to replace gluten-containing grains, keeping your diet more anti-inflammatory
Here’s what just one ounce (3 tbsp) of flaxseeds will give you:
- Omega-3 (ALA) 6,338mg (flax seeds are 42% fat, most of which are Polyunsaturated Fats)
- Fiber 8g
- Protein 6g
- Vitamin B1 31% RDA
- Manganese 35% RDA
- Magnesium 30% RDA
- Phosphorus 19% RDA
- Selenium 10% RDA
- AND vitamin B6, Iron, potassium, copper and zinc
How do I prepare Flax Seed?
- Buy it ground (milled) or grind it yourself. Flaxseed will generally pass through you if it’s not ground up. So while a few whole seeds tossed on a salad will give it a bit of taste, they won’t give you all the nutritional payoff.
- Buy either brown or golden flaxseed. Both are high in Omega-3s. Avoid yellow flaxseed, which doesn’t have the same Omega-3 content.
- Keep it whole until you’re ready to use it. The outside shell protects the fatty acids inside, so if you buy pre-ground make sure you keep the flaxseed in the freezer to help preserve it. Kept in a dark, cool place, whole flaxseed can keep for up to a year.
- Buy it in oil form. You can get the same benefits from flaxseed oil as fish oil, but make sure you don’t cook with it. Flaxseed oil is prone to oxidation, so will go bad when heated.
- Moderation is key. Generally, a tablespoon or two a day will do you. Also, make sure to keep hydrated while you’re using it.
So, what can I make with it?
VEGAN BLACK BEAN & QUINOA BURGER (from Veganosity), 8-10 patties
Ingredients: 1 tbsp avocado or coconut oil, 1 C uncooked quinoa, 1 1/2 C water, 30 oz canned black beans – rinsed and drained, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, 1/2 chopped red onion, 1 chopped bell pepper, 3 tbsp ground flaxseed and 6 tbsp water mixed into a paste, 1 tbsp chili powder, dash sea salt, dash cumin, dash cayenne, dash black pepper. Cilantro and chopped chili pepper if desired
Instructions: In a strainer, rinse the quinoa well. Drain it and then add to a small sauce pan full of water. Boil the quinoa, then reduce to a simmer, covered for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes. Put 3/4 of the beans into a food processor and blend them until they start to form a ball. Put into a large mixing bowl with the rest of the whole beans. Put the pepper into the processor and pulse until tiny. Drain of excess water and add to beans. Do the same with the onions and garlic, add to bowl, then add in the spices. Take your well-mixed flax paste and add to the bowl – stir well. The mixture should be thick and sticky – add water if needed. Scoop out in 1/2C portions, form into balls.
In a large skillet, heat some oil and spread it evenly in the pan. Cook the patties for 4-5 minutes per side, until browned. Handle carefully, since the patties are fragile. Serve on lettuce leaves. You can also freeze the patties for up to a month.
BANANA BREAD MUFFINS (from Running With Spoons), 9 muffins
Ingredients: 1/4 C almond butter, 2 mashed ripe bananas, 1 egg, 2 tbsp honey, 1/2 C rolled oats, 1/4 C almond meal, 2 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Dark chocolate chunks if desired.
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375F, and oil a muffin pan. Add all the ingredients to a blender and mix until creamy. Add dark chocolate if desired. Pour the batter into the tins, filling about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the muffin. Allow muffins to cool before serving.
CHIA & FLAX PUDDING
Ingredients: 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee, 2 C coconut or almond milk, 3 tbsp chia seeds, 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
Optional Toppings/mix-ins: chopped nuts, hemp hearts, fresh berries, protein powder, coconut sugar
Instructions: In a non-stick pan on medium heat, warm your oil, coconut milk, chia and flax, stirring until the mixture is thick and well-combined (usually about 3 minutes). Pour the warm pudding into a bowl and top with whatever you’d like. Serve warm.
What else can you do with flaxseed?
Want to sneak some fats into your diet in other ways? Here are some ideas!
- Put some ground flaxseed into your heartier dishes like casserole, stew, chilli or meatloaf – you won’t even notice it!
- Toss some ground flax on your salads, pastas, or other starchy meals
- Use it in your baking – you can substitute ground flax for a portion of flour in most recipes (like muffins, breads, pancakes, etc). If a recipe calls for more than 2C flour, try substituting 1/4-1/2C with flax.
- Add it to your smoothies – staying hydrated when eating flax is important, so flax in your smoothie helps you hydrate AND get your Omega-3s
Do you have a great flax seed recipe? We’d love to hear it!