The health benefits of ground flaxseed are pretty stellar.
Ground flaxseed is high in essential Omega-3 fats, dietary fiber, and protein that may also help aid in weight control, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of cancer.
This awesome ingredient is so versatile it can be used to make cookies and meatballs, and shine equally as bright when used to thicken smoothies and serve as a nutty topping for cereal and yogurt.
I’m a huge fan of ground flaxseed, and have been leaning on it for years to help me make all kinds of vegan dishes – from raw to cooked, from savory to sweet. The fact that it’s so nutrient-dense makes me a forever fangirl for this incredibly flexible superfood.
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Ground vs. Whole Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are available whole and ground, but I suggest always purchasing the ground version if you can, since I’ve found that having them on hand already ground makes my active kitchen even more efficient. They also go by the name of Flaxseed Meal – so if you’re purchasing them ground, be sure to look for that.
If you’d rather buy them whole and grind them into a fine powder yourself, that’s totally possible too. And whole flaxseeds will stay fresh for a year if stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
I used to do this all the time in commercial kitchens – using the Vitamix – but any decent blender will do. Just make sure that you don’t put too many flaxseeds in the blender at once. Fill it just about 1 inch high, then blend in small batches in order to get the finest ground.
The more you fill the blender, the more you’ll have to stop and use a rubber spoon/spatula to scrape the sides down and blend again. This can be a time-consuming process if you want to make a bulk amount of ground flaxseed, but it’s worth it to stop and blend til fine, empty your newly ground seeds into a container, then refill your blender with the whole seeds to start the process all over again.
If you try to grind too much at once, you will end up with a nightmarish mix of unevenly ground seeds – some will be ground to a dust and others will hardly be ground, if at all.
Flaxseeds Are Most Beneficial When Ground
If our bodies are not able to access the abundance of nutrient wonderment that’s packed into this magnificently beneficial little seed, then most of those attributes will pass right through us, even if our salad is littered with flaxseeds.
So grind them up or buy them already ground so that they can serve you quickly and effortlessly!
The Beauty of Flaxseed oil
Beside ground flaxseeds, I love flaxseed oil!
Flaxseed oil makes it SO easy to incorporate flaxseed’s health benefits into your daily routine.
If, once a day, you drizzle flaxseed oil over salad or toss it into rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous, oatmeal, or whatever other grain you’re having, you’d be getting all of the omega-3, fiber, and protein benefits on a daily basis – with virtually no effort! The oil has a very light, pleasant, and slightly nutty essence to it that I find complementary to whatever I use it on.
If you do incorporate flaxseed oil into your diet – please take careful note – do not heat it, do not use it to cook on the stove / in the oven. Your flaxseed oil should be cold-pressed and unrefined and used as a finishing seasoning (ie, after your food is cooked) in order to retain all of its tremendous health benefits.
And now that you know that, let’s do something much more exciting than just sprinkling a salad with flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed, shall we?
The Flax Egg
This is the only vegan egg I bake with now.
Over many years of trying different egg substitutes, I’ve found that the flax egg is the most nutritious and lends the best flavor with all of my baked goods. I’ve tried starch-based packaged egg replacers and using chia seeds to make a vegan egg.
I’m generally not a fan of chia seeds anyway because of the slimy texture they inherit when liquid is added. And I wasn’t thrilled with the nutritional content of the supermarket starch egg replacers – which are composed of a bunch of starch and stabilizers.
The chia seed deserves some credit for being higher in calcium than the flaxseed, but flax still outperforms chia in terms of protein content. As a nutrient-rich alternative that provides the wonderful texture that allows it to do what a chicken egg does so well – which is bind ingredients together – the flax egg fills that role perfectly.
How to Make A Flax Egg
The recipe for a vegan flax egg could not be any simpler –
For One Egg:
1 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed
2.5 – 3 Tbsp* Water
Mix well and let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. The ground flaxseeds will absorb the water and begin to expand. I always let it sit for 15 minutes so the seeds and water can really gel together.
*The amount of water depends on how dense and creamy you want your flax egg. I find that dense and creamy works well for me, so I always use 2.5 Tbsp water. Using 3 Tbsp water will yield a slightly thinner flax egg mixture.
I bake a lot, and use this flax egg recipe in vegan and non-vegan recipes (i.e., recipes that call for chicken eggs so that the recipe ends up becoming vegan), without disappointment, every time.
Yesterday I baked some classic chocolate chip cookies using the flax egg. Cookies are just one of many fantastic things that flaxseed can be used to make! Tonight I’m making vegan meatballs with ground flaxseeds. You can find both of these recipes at noracooks.com.
Noracooks.com has all kinds of delicious, straightforward, crowd-pleasing recipes that truly delight vegans and non-vegans alike! Although I find myself referring to her page again and again, you do NOT have to be a professional chef to follow what she’s doing.
In fact, the reason why I appreciate her recipes so much is that she makes everything simple and mystery-free. It doesn’t hurt that she appreciates flaxseed as much as I do!
It’s one thing to cook commercially on a large scale, but breaking ingredients down into recipes for home cooking is another skill in which I haven’t invested myself. But Nora does this beautifully, so give her a visit!
Try A Tropical Smoothie with Ground Flaxseed
Another super easy way to incorporate the phenomenal flaxseed into your diet is to use it as a thickening agent for your smoothies.
Try my favorite tropical smoothie blend for yourself!
- Non-Dairy Milk (I prefer almond or cashew) – 1.5 cups
- Coconut Milk (canned) – 1/4 cup
- Ground Flaxseed – 2 Tbsp
- Pineapple – 1 cup
- Mango – 1/2 cup
- Strawberry – 1/4 cup
- Banana – 1/4 cup
- Maple Syrup – optional
- Orange or Pineapple Juice – add for desired consistency
**Note: With the exception of bananas, I always use diced frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s for smoothies. It’s convenient and makes for an immediately cold smoothie with no chill time!
Pour the non-dairy milk, coconut milk, and ground flaxseed into your blender.
It’s very important to have a liquid base for the fruit to ensure that your smoothie blends easily and comes out smooth!
The blender I use is a 56-ounce 5-speed blender by KitchenAid. I use it to make smoothies, hummus, vegan cheese preparations, and to grind peppercorns and other spices. If you’re looking for a new blender for your home kitchen, I highly recommend it!
Depending on the size of your blender, you might want to blend until smooth after you add each fruit. If you have a blender on the smaller and less powerful side, blend after adding each fruit since you don’t want your blender motor to become overwhelmed and burn out from too much weight on the blade. Blending after each fruit also keeps the blender’s contents down lower in the container and prevents ingredients from piling up too high.
If your smoothie comes out too thick for you, try a drizzle of orange juice to liquefy it down a bit. So just add the desired amount of orange juice – a little at a time to control what you’re adding – then blend. Add maple syrup, if necessary, to taste.
It’s So Easy – and Beneficial! – to Flax and Relax
These are just some of the ways to incorporate the incredible flaxseed into your diet. And remember – its light, nutty taste lends itself well to adding it straight to cereal or yogurt as a topping, so it’s never inconvenient to add this wonder seed to your daily regimen. Add it to the to-do list right after “brushing teeth.” 🙂
You’ll love getting healthy doses of omega-3 fats, protein, and fiber from regular flaxseed intake.
Speaking of regular, well, its high fiber content will do you VERY well in that department! Especially if you manage to work them into your daily diet – which, as we’ve discussed, is super easy! If you don’t believe me, my fiancé can also attest to the fibrous wonder that is the light and nutty ground flaxseed.
Last Minute PRO TIP ALERT!
After you’ve opened your package of ground flaxseed for the first time, to be sure seal the package tightly or store in an airtight container – then refrigerate!
Because of their considerable omega-3 fat content, ground flaxseeds will go rancid if they’re not stored in the fridge. Keep them in the fridge and they’ll serve you well for up to two months. If two months in the fridge are up and you still have some left, keep them in that airtight container and put them in the freezer, where their nutritional life will extend by three months.
Hmm…When Should I Start Using Flaxseed to Upgrade My Diet?
There’s no better time than right now to start taking even better care of yourself by adding ground flaxseed to your diet – so go ahead and start digging in!
The brands I love, in order of preference:
3) Trader Joe’s Organic Flaxseed Meal (I live somewhat close to TJ’s, so I use this in a pinch, when I need flaxseed right now and can’t get either of the above two quickly via usual shipping methods!)
Let me know in the comments below whether you’ve tried incorporating flaxseed into your snacks/meals and what that did for you, if anything. I’d love to hear about your experience!
Questions about flaxseed? Put them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer 🙂