|Brown flax seeds. Photo by Sanjay Acarya, from Wikipedia.|
In the past year or so, I have tried to get more flax into our diet. The biggest reason for this is that I have mild rheumatoid arthritis, and eating more omega-3s may help me with that.* Beyond that, flax seeds are packed with nutrients and fiber, and they taste good. Can't argue with that!
Storage and grinding. Flax seeds store best when whole and unground. Once they're ground, they go rancid quickly. Your body can't digest whole flax seeds, so you will need to grind them before you use them. I just whizz them in my blender for a couple of minutes. I like to do a bunch of grinding in one session and then store my ground seed in the freezer. Then I can just take out a tablespoon or two at a time and not worry about dirtying my blender.
Use and taste. I often throw in a tablespoon or two here and there—in the bread, in a smoothie, in the waffles, even in scrambled eggs. When used in small quantities you can't taste it much. When used in larger quantities (see recipe below), it has a very nice nutty flavor. If it smells or tastes funny or fishy, your flax is rancid.
Flax egg replacement. Flax seed makes an excellent egg replacement in recipes that don't depend on eggs for volume. Flax eggs will probably work well in quick breads such as muffins, pancakes, and banana bread. They will not work in recipes where eggs are beaten, such as cakes. If you're planning ahead, you could soak your flax eggs the night before.
For each egg you're replacing, soak 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed in 3 tablespoons water. Let soak in refrigerator until thickened (there may be a layer of water on top). This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour.
Flax muffins. Flax makes fabulous, nutty-tasting muffins. The seeds are full of healthy oils, so there's no need to add any other fats.
Flax seed muffins
Adapted from Super flax muffins
3/4 cup ground flax seed (1/2 cup before grinding)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 scant teaspoon nutmeg
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
Heat the oven to 350°. Prepare 12 muffin cups. Whisk together dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients. Fill the muffin tins and bake 20–25 minutes.
*Evidence is mixed. This study says omega-3s don't help with pain and swelling, but do help decrease need for other drugs (but no data on disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, which is the category of drug I am currently taking). This page says omega-3s help, too. It is so hard to find credible information on the internet! In any case, I figure it may help and probably won't hurt. You know what does hurt? Eating lots of junk food. That will immediately make me flare up.