How To Use Flaxseed Meal: Two Ideas
Flaxseed has been called a “superfood”, with good reason. Studies have shown that health concerns like obesity, diabetes, inflammation that comes with asthma or arthritis, and even premenopausal and depression symptoms have been eased and decreased through its regular use.
Flaxseed contains Alpha-linolenic acid, the plant version of Omega-3 fatty acid, that helps the heart. Each tablespoon of flaxseed meal contains 2 grams of fiber, an important tool in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol as well as improving digestive disorders. Lignans, with their antioxidant and possible anti-cancer qualities, are present more in flaxseed than in other plant foods.
Seeing all the positive reports and comments, I finally decided to check out this wonder ingredient. My goal was to naturally use the flaxseed in my family’s daily meals. Adding a tablespoon or two into oatmeal or soup was a great start. But I wanted to try baking and cooking with it, in two specific ways.
Experiment #1: As an egg substitute
How to do it: For each egg you want to substitute, put 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed into 2 tablespoons of water. Let it stand for 2 minutes, then add into your regular recipe.
Pancakes for breakfast are big in our house - I make them 2-3 times a week. Concern about the cholesterol in all those eggs led me to try using flaxseed instead.
I thought the batter might end up thinner with the change, but I was pleasantly surprised. Flaxseed made a good binding agent, for a nice thick consistency. And the flavor was only a little different - just a nice nutty addition.
1 cup flour (white, wheat or combination)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp white sugar
Flaxseed egg substitute (see above)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup milk
Mix dry ingredients together. Whisk flaxseed and oil into batter. Slowly add milk, folding it in gradually. Let batter sit for 2-3 minutes before spooning or pouring into pan to cook.
Hint: Another day, I made the same switch in a recipe for meatloaf. The dish ended up holding together really well, and my son, the meatloaf expert in the family, said it tasted great.
Experiment #2: As a flour substitute
How to do it: For every 2 cups of flour called for in a recipe, you can substitute 1/2 cup of flaxseed into the recipe.
I’d read about making bread with flaxseed, and a batch of muffins I made came out well. But I decided on two other favorites to try: molasses cookies were first. I wondered if the flaxseed’s nuttiness would compliment the molasses and other spices. It added depth without overpowering - a delicious success!
Soft Molasses Cookies
7 tbsp canola oil
1 cup applesauce
2/3 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1 cup flaxseed
1 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp white sugar
Combine the oil, applesauce and eggs in a bowl, folding in the molasses slowly. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add to the wet ingredients, fully blending until there are not lumps in the batter. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spoon batter by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the sugar over the tops. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Lastly, I decided to prepare homemade tortillas to go with a taco dinner. I was curious to see if adding flaxseed would change the dough’s elasticity. The result was a little drier than usual, but a little extra olive oil moistened the mixture right up, and handling it was no problem.
2 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup flaxseed
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup very hot water
olive oil to coat
salt to taste
Add all the dry ingredients together. Mix the water in, shaping the dough into a ball. Use the oil to coat the dough and keep it moist. Put a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, heating for about 5 minutes until very hot. Quickly make about 10 balls of dough, rolling each out thinly (use a small bit of flour on the rolling pin to prevent sticking if needed). Cook each tortilla in the skillet for about 10-15 seconds on each side, or until browned.
Use right away, or store in the refrigerator in a large airtight baggie with moistened paper towel to keep them soft.
Where to find it: You can usually find it at your local supermarket. Most organic food sections host a terrific variety, from whole seed to ground meal, golden to brown.
What kind to buy: Flaxseed meal is easier to digest than the whole version. So if you buy the whole seeds, plan to grind them yourself (a coffee grinder works well). The color doesn’t make a difference in terms of nutrition.
How to store it: Flaxseed needs to be stored in the freezer or fridge to keep it from spoiling. Whole seeds generally last longer than ground meal.