Flax is a small but mighty seed that boasts a wide range of nutritional benefits. Heart-healthy flax seeds are packed with fiber and also happen to be a rich source of plant-based anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the body. The latter two are the type of omega-3s found in fish, meat, and eggs, so flax can be a great way to boost omega-3 intake on a plant-based diet. Flax has been studied for its potential role in heart health, cancer treatment, and diabetes management, among other things.
One tablespoon of ground flax provides 30 calories, about 2.5 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, and 1.5 grams protein. To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, go for ground flax, as your body can more readily absorb all those great nutrients. Whole flax seeds tends to just pass right on through.
Here are some delicious ways to enjoy flax as part of your regular diet.
Fiber-rich oatmeal and ground flax are a delicious, heart-healthy combination. Most oatmeal packages call for ½ cup of rolled oats or ¼ cup of steelcut, which provides about 150 calories. In order to add more nutrition to your meal without a big increase in calories, try adding 1 tablespoon of ground flax to ⅓ cup rolled oats or 3 tablespoons steelcut, and cook with about 1 cup water. Season however you like.
To make one bowl of oatmeal, start with the following ingredients:
- ⅓ cup rolled oats or 3 tablespoons steelcut oats
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 1 cup water
On the stovetop
- Bring water to a boil. Lower heat and add the oats and flax.
- Cook until liquid is almost fully absorbed.
In the microwave
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, mix eggs, flax, and water.
- Microwave on high in 30-second intervals until cooked through, stirring between to prevent clumping.
You can also add flax to any of these egg white oatmeal recipes.
As an Egg Substitute
Flax makes a great substitute for eggs in foods like baked goods, meatballs, meatloaf, veggies burgers, and other recipes that call for egg as a binding agent.
For each egg you need, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well, and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. You’ll end up with a sticky egg-like substitute.
As a Bread Crumb Substitute
No bread crumbs? No problem! Flax makes a great gluten-free bread crumb substitute. This fish recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes, making it a great option for busy weekends. You can use whatever fish you like, though it works especially well with white fish like cod, haddock, and fluke.
- 1 pound fillet of white fish (like fluke, cod, or haddock), rinsed & patted dry
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Oil spray or olive oil to grease pan
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- Garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking pan.
- Place fish in baking pan. Pour lemon juice on top.
- In a small bowl, mix flax, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Top fish with flax mixture. Bake until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork, about 10-12 minutes.
Savory Seed Blend RecipeThis spice & seed blend is delicious in grain dishes, used in a crust for fish or chicken, or cooked into foods like meatballs. Store leftovers in an airtight containers in the fridge.
- 4 tablespoons ground flax
- 2 tablespoons hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- a few grinds of black pepper
- Shake ingredients together. Done. Store in the fridge if not using right away
(Yields ~8 1 tbsp servings)
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping others experience a happier, calmer life and a balanced relationship with food. For those in need of some healthy-eating inspiration, Jess created five day's worth of delicious make-ahead lunches to make it even easier to eat well on a busy day. For more information on Jess, check out her website and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
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