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A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

Just the Flax, Ma'am: How To Incorporate Flax Seeds Into Your Diet

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[Photograph: Sean Dreilinger on Flickr]

Has everybody been telling you to eat flax seeds lately? They may be on to something. Flax seeds have been making a comeback as nutritionists, chefs, and wellness experts are recognizing the powerful health impact this little seed can have. Low in carbohydrates and sugars, flax seeds are loaded with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber (both soluble and insoluble), and somewhere between 70 and 800 cancer-combating lignans.

You can buy whole flax seeds. They're fun to use while baking bread at home. But unless the seeds get "broken down" while you chew your food, they can "pass right through you" and you won't receive any of their nutritional value. Your best bet? Pick up some ground flax seeds, also known as flax seed meal, which are available from a number of companies, including Bob's Red Mill, Spectrum, and even GNC. Since the flax seeds have already been ground up, all of their nutrition is available for your body to absorb. Just make sure to follow the storage suggestions on the package to preserve the meal's flavor and nutrients.

Here are some delicious ideas for incorporating this nutty little seed into your diet:

Bake It In

For every 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour you would use in a traditional recipe for these baked goods, add 1/2 cup ground flaxseed to:

  • Muffins
  • Breads
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles

Mix It Up

Start by adding 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed for every 6-ounce serving of the following foods. From there, you can increase or decrease the amount of flaxseed you use based on your own taste preference:

  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Smoothies
  • Tuna/chicken salad
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Hummus
  • Granola

Sprinkle It On

When you finish preparing these foods (or scooping them out of a container), try just a sprinkle of flaxseed for an extra boost of nutty flavor and nutritional value.

  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • Fried rice
  • Cheese straws

Do you already cook with flax seeds on a regular basis? Got any flaxy recipes to share?

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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