Cooking With: Flaxseed Meal, the World’s Smallest Superfood

13 Sep

SUPERFOOD! (No, but really.)

 

Once upon a time, there was a budding chef who called herself GKG. She liked to cook with nutrition in mind, but was a busy lady on a tight budget. How, she wondered, could she add nutritious content to her recipes without breaking the bank? As much as she loved taking a whirl through Whole Foods or her local Giant’s Natural Foods aisle, a lot of those items were out of her price range.

What was a girl to do?

When lo, she discovered her favorite little superfood of all time: Flaxseed meal. The two of them lived happily ever after, adding fiber, lignans and nutrients to many a meal. The end.

Image sourced from elenaspantry.com. Mmmmm. I can taste the omega-3s!

Fairy tale? Musings of an overtired teacher in need of her lifeblood caffeine? Nope – it’s my ode to flaxseed meal, the greatest little superfood on earth.

Yes, that sounds like hyperbole. (Poetic devices! English teacher FTW.) But in fact, flaxseed meal is one of the easiest ways to infuse your baked goods, breakfast cereals and other dishes with a huge nutritional boost. 1-2 tbsps a day of ground flaxseeds (sold by Bob’s Red Meal and other retailers in the Natural Foods aisle of any mainstream grocery store, averaging at about $3.50 per bag) packs an unbelievable healthy wallop. [Note: This information comes from the kind folks at Bob’s Red Mill, supplemented with a bit of Wikipedia-ing. Go Internet!]

  • Flaxseed meal is a fiber powerhouse: 2 tablespoons add 4 grams of fiber to your diet instantly. Boom.
  • Lignans, a natural antioxidant, are flaxseed’s biggest selling point. Flaxseed has 75 times more lignans than, well, any other plant source in your diet. 75 times more! Say what?! You’d need to eat 30 cups of broccoli to equal the amount of lignans in a serving of flaxseed (2 tablespoons). Holy cannoli, Batman!
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – commonly found in foods like salmon, fish oil, some nuts, and even a few spices (see a complete list here) – are in abundance in a serving of flaxseed. Whether you’re talking the seeds themselves, the ground meal (which is what I commonly use), or flaxseed oil, the natural oils are about 50% alpha-linolenic acid, a common omega-3. That’s 2400 milligrams of awesome in one serving. (Seriously, Bob’s Red Mill – y’all are turning me into a nut-cum-nutritionist. Love it.)
  • It’s naturally gluten-free, for folks watching their gluten intake. Feel free to add it to gluten-free baked goods!

So how do you use the stuff? Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way. Happy super-nutritious eating!

Image courtesy of heathereatsalmondbutter.com. Flaxseed + hot oatmeal & cinnamon-sugar? Yes, please and thank you!

  • Buy the ground flaxseed meal – the whole flaxseeds or flaxseed oil are just as good, but I find that the ground meal is more versatile. (Read: easier to incorporate into your diet.)
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons to your morning bowl of cereal, yogurt or oatmeal. Make sure to stir well! The meal adds a nutty flavor to your breakfast, as well as superfood-osity. (Yep. Totally a word.)
  • When making quick breads, muffins, cookies or even pancakes, add 2 tablespoons (or more – I’d max out at about 4, at the risk of altering the texture of your food) to the batter or dough before baking. I’ve even added flaxseed meal to yeast bread doughs, including my pizza dough or a whole wheat equivalent. Your kitchen will smell like a multigrain bakery in no time.
  • Sprinkle a tbsp. onto your PB & J sandwich.
  • Take the Gwyneth Paltrow approach and make Seed Mix. In her cookbook, Gwyneth includes a recipe for Seed Mix – a blend of flaxseed, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds that’s pulverized in a food processor or coffee grinder. She’ll stir it into granola, cereal, or even pancake batter, muffin mix or cookie dough. Go nuts (or go seeds?)!
  • Random tip from the Bob’s Red Mill folks: If you’re looking for egg substitutes in baking, mix 1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water and allow the mixture to sit for 2 minutes. The mixture is equivalent to 1 egg. Whether you’re vegan baking or just looking to add some oomph, give it a try!

For a whole slew of recipes, check out this link from healthyflax.com. Yep, that exists. Seriously, go Internet.

What are your favorite nutritional foodstuffs? What other sorts of ingredients – “natural” or otherwise – would you guys like me to highlight? I’m thinking of exploring seasonal produce, other natural grains, and maybe a spice or two.

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8 Responses to “Cooking With: Flaxseed Meal, the World’s Smallest Superfood”

  1. eddiesohn September 14, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    wonderful article. Thanks for the info. Gotta go and get myself a bag of these!! 😀

    • galleykitchengal September 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      Glad you liked it! Seriously, I nosh on flaxseed meal with breakfast every day. Mmmm, antioxidants … haha.

      • eddiesohn September 15, 2012 at 12:20 am #

        antioxidants.. they are my concern as of now.. it’s my undergraduate thesis right now. Will keep you posted bout it. 🙂 COFFEE!!:D

    • Cheryl September 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      I’ve been using ground flax seed for a year or more. I love it. I have adapted a banana bread recipe that is really good, and good for you. I love the flax seed meal in my oatmeat, on my omega 3 peanut butter, and almost everything I bake. Thanks for the additional ideas.

      • galleykitchengal September 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

        For sure! How great is this stuff? It’s the first thing I add to my morning cereal — even before the milk! I’d love that banana bread recipe if you have it, too. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
        Also, which omega 3 PB do you buy? I’ve been exploring non-Skippy and non-Jif options with a few more health benefits (and no hydrogenated oils — yuck!), so I’m very open to suggestions!

  2. Erin September 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    We buy almond butter from our local co-op. Super delicious and lots of health benefits. And we also love adding oatmeal to as many baked things as possible but also hamburgers, ironically. It adds a surprisingly yummy and special texture. We’ve just started with adding flaxseed – happy so far. We even used our Magic Bullet to make the seeds more like flakes. (I found that the seeds were getting stuck to kitchen materials used in the cooking process so we weren’t getting to eat as many with the actual prepared meal. Flax Flakes = problem solved)

    • galleykitchengal September 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      Mmm! All awesome suggestions — I wouldn’t have thought about using oatmeal with my burgers, but I’ve added breadcrumbs, so why not? Also, do you get the whole flaxseeds or flaxseed meal? I’ve only worked with flaxseed meal, but I’ll keep your Flax Flakes in mind!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cooking With(out) Dairy: Adventures (and Some Tips) in Vegan Baking « galley kitchen gal - January 21, 2013

    […] First, No Eggs — try Flax Eggs instead. Mix 1 Tbsp flax seed with 3 Tbsp water vigorously for a minute or so. Substitute this mixture for one egg. It also adds protein, lignans, and other nutritional goodies, as I highlighted in this post. […]

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