Thursday, February 18, 2010

Let Them Eat Flax

OK, so I couldn't stay away ... for now, we are going to dedicate Tuesdays and Thursdays to reader questions so please email me any fitness, nutrition, exercise, and/or recipe questions. We will address them here so everyone can benefit from the information. I am also considering doing a FAL "reader of the month" segment where we can highlight a different reader each month and learn about their journey, struggles and achievements. Kind of like how Shape Magazine follows the weight-loss journey of one of their readers but better because the blog is FREE and environmentally friendly. Please email me if you are interested in participating in this. It could be a source of great motivation to have the support of all our readers.

Also, if you are happy that I will be posting 5 days a week you can thank "LifeWithLove" who lovingly guilted me into reconsidering my position on this. Conversely, if you were hoping to get a break from me a few times a week you can blame "LifeWithLove." Either way, it looks like I'm here to stay.

On to the business of the day. I’ve had a few people ask me questions about flaxseed. What is it? What do I do with it? Does it matter if I buy whole seeds or already ground seeds? What does it taste like? How do I get my kids to eat it. And so on. So, here you go … the 411 on flaxseed.

Flaxseed is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which is an Essential Fatty Acid. They are “essential” because your body cannot make them so they must be obtained from the foods you eat. Flaxseed is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, as are walnuts, wheat germ, beans and fatty fish like tuna and salmon. However, you would have to eat over 3lbs of salmon to get the equivalent amount of Omega-3’s contained in ¼ cup of flaxseed. Flaxseed is very high in fiber as well and we all know by now that fiber is our friend.

Flaxseed is also rich in lignans which are molecules with anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. Flax contains 100 times the amount of lignans as the next best source, wheat bran. And, only 2% of the flax lignans end up in flax oil, while 98% remains in the seed meal, make consumption of flaxseed far more nutritious and beneficial than that of flax oil. I’m telling you, this little seed packs quite a punch.

The yellow bowl on the left shows what the whole seed looks like prior to grinding; the pink bowl on the right contains freshly ground flaxseed, ready to sprinkle on anything.

I know you can purchase already ground flaxseed at the store, conventional and health food stores alike, as well as the whole seed. I buy the whole seed in bulk because I think it is less expensive and fresher when I grind it myself, but both have the same nutritional benefit. Regardless of which you prefer you should store ground flaxseed in the refrigerator as it can go rancid easily.

Also, if you do buy the whole seed you MUST grind it prior to consumption or it will pass through your system … err … intact, if you know what I mean. So, to get the nutritional benefits of eating flaxseed you must make sure you are consuming ground flaxseed.

Ground flaxseed offers a nutritional boost to soups, chili, salads, oatmeal, smoothies and pancake batter. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is a great way to sneak extra nutrition (fiber, omega-3s) into things your kids eat as well. I include it in pancake and muffin batter and sprinkle it on oatmeal for my babies. It definitely keeps them regular!

Flaxseed is a pretty simple, relatively inexpensive way to bump up the nutritional power of almost anything you make or eat. Try to include 2-4 TBS a day into your diet and feel the difference.

Special note: Jeannie uses a mixture of flaxseed and water to replace the eggs in some of her recipes, like her delicious 4-grain pancakes. I’m sure she would be happy to tell us more about that … right, Jeannie???


  1. Flax seed is a fabulous & easy addition to your lifestyle! We put it in EVERYTHING! In addition to those Erin mentioned, I also add it to soups, casseroles, scrambled eggs (if they have cheese in them), brownies, cookies, and even my turkey/beef/bison burgers when I'm making them. It actually helps to hold the burgers together.

    If you don't like the postings on T/Th, you can just skip those days & we'll see you on MWF! :)

  2. I kid you not that I poured flax seed on a frozen pizza last week.
    My name is Glennon and I fall off the wagon quite often. But when I do, adding flax seed to my cardboard, processed food makes me feel fancy and healthy.
    Erin, you are doing an amazing job...what a gift you are to us. Thank you thank you thank you.

    PS. Flax seed on frozen pizza sucks.

  3. Here is an egg substitute recipe with flax:

    1/4 C ground flaxseed and 3/4 C water. Place ingredients in sauce pan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator and use 1 TBS of mixture to replace each egg.

    This is also a good "binder" for veggie burgers as well as a replacement for baked goods.

  4. Erin, I'm having a hard time believing that the flaxseed egg substitute will work in all when the main ingredient of the dish is eggs? I made some fabulous veggie mini-quiches the other day, loaded with great stuff, but the essential item was . . . eggs. The recipe made 18 of the muffin sized quiches (56 cals each), so the eggs were split up between the 18 quiches, but still, I'm wondering. Because see, if I'm going to chop all those vegetables really tiny to put them in the quiches and clean out the muffin cups later when the non-stick spray doesn't work right, they better taste darned good. Whatcha think?

    Haha - my word verification is "undrat" is that like when you rectify a mistake you just said "drat" about? I love word verification. It's worth a whole book on its own

  5. SLM -- please, as a total egghead; do not replace eggs in your quiche... maybe just add flax to the crust? sprinkle some on top? bake some flax bread and enjoy it with a quiche...

    G - i have no words... flax on pizza???? of course, now i'm curious!

    Thank you, Erin (& Jeannie)!!!

  6. LifewithLove - good for you for guilting Erin into communicating with us five days a week! :-)
    Glennon, you are a rock star! Look how far you've come, girlfriend!

    I love my flaxseed and at the very least put it in my and the kids' smoothie every morning.
    Yes, the substitution that I use for eggs for quick breads, pancakes, muffins, etc. is:

    For EACH egg, 1 tbsp of flaxseed and 3 tbsp water. Whisk together and let sit for a couples minutes before adding to other ingredients. I got it from a vegan website, but I just noticed the same directions are on my bag of flaxseed. It doesn't sound like it would be able to hold ingredients together as well as eggs, but I've never noticed the difference, nor has any unsuspecting friend or relative. :-)

  7. okay, seeing as I started my post above THIS MORNING and just now was able to post, I am just now seeing the post about quiches.

    The substitution I (and Erin) mentioned is best for baked goods, "bready" items, etc. I know there are fake egg products out there that can be a substitute for eggs, but I've never used them. Erin, any recommendations? I might agree with Chimmy in this instance and sprinkle the flaxseed in the crust.

    OOOO, how I miss quiches.....I think I feel a "cheat" craving coming on! :-)

    PS: My word verification was just "reduch." Hmmm

  8. Please don't tell me you guys think eggs are bad for you!!! They are packed full of nutrients! Have any of you read Nourishing Traditions or familiar with Weston A Price Foundation?

  9. The flax-water is just a substitute for eggs in baking recipes and it's just an option ... it is not meant to be a substitute for eggs in, say, an EGG dish :-)