Friday, August 30, 2013

Flax Seeds

I've been hearing about the health benefits of flax seeds so I bought some this week.  I have also researched the benefits, storage and some good ways to use them in your diet so thought I’d share my new limited knowledge about flax seeds.  

Health Benefits:

Recent studies have suggested that flax seed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.  Some of the other components in flax seed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to not only protection against cancer but also heart disease.

The benefits seem endless.  Eating flax seed daily may also help your cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar levels.

Two components in flax seed may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson's disease and asthma) by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents.

One study of menopausal women, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half.

Flax seed is high in fiber. You’d be hard pressed to find a food higher in fiber. Since flax has such a high fiber content, it's best to start with a small amount and increase slowly.

It's tempting to think of flax seed as a super food because of its many potential health benefits but keep in mind there is no magic food or nutrient that guarantees improved health.  Pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flax seed.  Discuss with your doctors.

Incorporating it in your diet:

Hide flax seed in dark, moist dishes. The dishes that hide flax seed the best are dark sauces or meat mixtures. No one tends to notice flax seed when it's stirred into enchilada casserole, chicken Parmesan  chili, beef stew, meatloaf, or meatballs. For a 4 serving casserole, you can usually get away with adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of ground flax seed.

Use it in baking. Substitute ground flax seed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing ¼ to ½ cup of the flour with ground flax seed if the recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour.

If a recipe calls for nuts, add flax seeds in addition to the nuts.

Sprinkle it on salads or put in salad dressings.

Add flax seed to a food you habitually eat. Every time you have a certain food, like oatmeal, smoothies, soup, or yogurt, stir in a couple tablespoons of ground flax seed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just do it.


The oil in flax is highly unsaturated. This means that it is very prone to oxidation (rancidity) unless it is stored correctly. The very best way is nature’s own storage system (within the seed). Flax seeds not exposed to large amounts of heat stay safe to eat for at least a year. You can keep it in the freezer. The freezer will keep the flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.

But as long as it is dry and of good quality, whole flax seed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.


Flax Seed Bread Sticks

1 can of Pillsbury bread sticks
Grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder
Flax seeds
Melted butter

Follow the directions on the bread stick can.  After you have twisted the sticks, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with garlic powder, Parmesan cheese and flax seeds.  Bake according to the directions on the can.    Serve warm.

Healthy Snack Balls

1 cup dry oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until mixed well. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes about 20-25 balls.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1 cup rolled oats
1 medium banana
4 tbs. powdered peanut butter
1 tbs. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. flax seed
1/3 cup honey or corn syrup

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly until completely combined.
Then using a tablespoon, scoop out mixture and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet or plate and continue until all balls are made.  Refrigerate balls for at least an hour.

Fruity Flax Seed Muffins

These moist and flavor flax muffins are not only good for you, but they taste great too.

½ cup crushed pineapple with juice
½ cup finely chopped apples
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
¼ cup dark molasses
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 ¼ cup flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾  cup ground flax seed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Coat inside of liners with a quick squirt cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat together the pineapple with juice, apples, oil, egg, egg whites, sour cream, and molasses until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in raisins or dried fruit.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flax seed.
Add flax seed mixture to sour cream mixture, beating on low speed just until combined (batter will be a little lumpy). Spoon batter by ¼ cupful into prepared muffin pan.
Bake in center of preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch.  It should make 12 muffins.

Cinnamon Cranberry Flax Muffins

1 cup whole fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Liberally butter muffin tins. Makes anywhere from 12 to 24 muffins. Do not use paper muffin liners - they will stick.

Pour boiling water over cranberries. Let sit for 5 minutes and pour off water.

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients (minus the cranberries) separately, then mix them together.

Let mixture stand for 10 minutes to thicken.

Fold in cranberries.

Fill each muffin cup about half way, and sprinkle with nuts.

Bake about 15 minutes (a little longer if you're only making 12) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Keep up to a week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

Flax Seed Brownie 

¼ lb. butter (1 stick)
2 cups sugar
1 tbs. vanilla
4 eggs
½ cup cocoa
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (or two heeping tbs. cocoa powder)
2 cups flax seed meal
1 tbs. baking powder
1/3 cup cream
2/3 cup water
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9 X 13 inch pan.

Cream the butter until fluffy. Add sugar to the butter and cream them together until fully combined.

Add the vanilla and beat the eggs into the mixture, one at a time. Add salt and cocoa, beat well. Add chocolate, beat until fluffy.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine.

Pour into a pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until top springs back. (You can also test if they're ready by sticking a toothpick in the brownies. If it comes out clean they're done.)

Cool, then cut into 32 squares. If you cheat and eat one warm, know that the texture will be different once completely cool. That's when they become like real brownies. (They are even better the next day.)

Health Bar 

1 ½ cups regular oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbs. flax seed + 4 tbs. warm water, mixed
½ cup butter
¼ cup blackberry syrup
2 tbs. almond milk (regular milk will do)
1 tbs. sesame seeds or coconut flakes for topping only

Fruit Spread
1 cup blackberries (Or berry of your choice)
2 tbs. blackberry syrup (or fruit syrup of your choice)
1 tbs. flax seed

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9 × 9 inch pan with parchment paper and oil the sides & base of pan. Working on the Fruit Spread first: place blackberries in a medium pot and smash with the broad side of a spoon until lumpy. Add the 2 tbs. Blackberry Syrup and heat over low for about 4 minutes. Add the flax seed, stir well, simmer over low to medium heat for at least 5 to 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you make the oat mixture.
In a small bowl, mix flax seed & water; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients for the oat base except sesame seeds/coconut flakes: oats, flour, baking soda, & salt. In a small bowl, mix the butter, blackberry syrup, almond milk, and water/flax seed mix. Stir well.  Set 1/2 cup of the dry mixture aside.

Add the wet mixture to the remaining dry mix and blend well. It's OK to use your fingers.

Pour the oat mixture into the 9 × 9 inch pan and press down using your hands. Use a pastry roller to smooth out if desired. Pour fruit mixture over the oat mixture and smooth out.

Use the 1/2 of dry mix set aside as a topping, evenly sprinkling over the fruit mix. Sprinkle sesame seeds/coconut flakes over top layer.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at least an hour before removing from pan. Slice and store in a refrigerated container to keep firm.

Here is a recipe to make the blackberry syrup (or fruit syrup of your choice).  Would be good with strawberry, raspberry or blueberries.

Homemade Fruit Flavored Syrup

1 part water
1 part sugar
1 part flavoring ingredient (chopped fruit or herbs or a combination)

Boil all ingredients for five minutes (or long if you want a stronger flavor), let the mixture cool, strain out the solids and refrigerate the liquid. About one quarter of the liquid evaporates in the cooking process thickening it.  The longer you cook it, the thicker it will get.  If it gets too thick add a little more water to it.

Adjust the amount of fruit slightly based on how intense you want the flavor to be and how strong the fruit or herb is.

For a more subtle herb flavor when mixing fruit and herbs, don’t add the herb until the last minute. Then remove from heat and let steep for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired flavor. You can even add a sprig to the bottle or jar you’ll be storing it in to show what flavor it is.
For citrus, use the rind as well as the juicy part.  You may also use honey instead of sugar to mix it up!

Homemade syrup doesn't keep as long as the commercial variety.  Store it in one of my favorite things, canning jars and you can label the lid with a Sharpie.  

I’m going to try and increase flax seed in my regular diet like I am doing with turmeric, remembering all things in moderation. 

Have a great Labor Day weekend.  Stay healthy, happy and may God bless you and yours.  

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