Flax seeds - press them for their oil, grind them into a flour or meal, or eat them raw. The seeds are tiny, delicate and glossy with a high percentage of oil in each seed. This oil in turn is high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds show potential cancer-fighting ability.
So, what do you do with it?
Using flax seeds whole: When using whole flax seeds remember to chew! If you swallow them whole they are going to pass through you whole, and you will miss out on all their beneficial qualities. Toss them in salads, add them to homemade granola, sprinkle over roasted seasonal vegetables. Lots of amicable places to sprinkle flax seeds.
Using flax meal/flour: A more nutritious option than whole seeds, grind the flour as you need it. Grinding flax seeds fresh makes all the good stuff bio-available. Of course, the first urge you get when you have a ground nut or grain like this in front of you is to use it in baked goods. This is fine, just know that you aren't going to get as many of the nutritional benefits versus consuming the seeds freshly ground and uncooked. If you are just after the flavor or texture? Bake away. You can use a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mini-processor to freshly grind the flax seeds and you will end up with a slightly oily meal. The general rule is that you can substitute about 1/4 of your regular flour with flax seed meal - and because of the high fat profile you can also cut back on other fats in recipes - but you will have to experiment. Vegans like to use the flax seed meal as an egg substitute (see below).
Ground flax seeds are rich in protein and contain a great deal of the phyto nutrient Lignan which is credited with anti-cancer properties die to its ability to carry away excess estrogen from the body. Lignans also have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti viral properties.
Using flax oil: Buy cold-pressed, refrigerated flax oil in dark, opaque bottles. This is an oil that goes rancid very quickly when exposed to light or air. If it smells bad it is time to toss it. Keep it refrigerated, and don't cook with it or heat it. No frying, sauteeing, etc. Start by drizzling foods with a blend of flax oil and olive oil - soups, salads, etc.
Flax seed egg substitute: 1 tablespoon ground flax seed plus 3 tablespoons boiled water = one egg. Let sit for 20 minutes until it is the consistency of egg whites.
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