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Flax seeds are tiny golden flat elongated seeds, rather crunchy in texture, with a bit of a nutty flavour. You’ve probably seen it as an ingredient in your bread or crackers lately or maybe read about it in a health magazine.
With the adult population getting more health conscious and baby boomers well into their 60s, foods that appear to have strong medicinal benefits will come to the forefront; hence the popularity of flax seed.
Several studies show that flax seed can have cholesterol lowering properties much the same as oat bran, as it contains both omega 3 fatty acids and soluble fibre together. As a result flax seed favours healthy blood lipid patterns. Because it contains a healthy amount of both soluble and insoluble fibre it works to lower the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease in the long run.
It is also one of the richest sources of lignans, a type of progesterone which may protect against cancer, particularly hormone sensitive cancers such as those of breast and prostate.
How then do you use these so called ‘miracle’ seeds also commonly known as linseed? Flax seeds come in two types, brown and golden, and both carry the same taste and nutritional value.
They should be stored in your refrigerator and will last up to one year, you can include them in your hot or cold cereals, and bake them into your muffins, cookies or breads, you may even add them to meatloaf, hamburgers and even meat balls.
You can get flax either in powder form or in whole seed form but it’s better to buy the whole seeds and grind them if you prefer to use it this way, because ground seeds tend to release their oils which in turn will go off a lot faster than the whole seeds would.
Here are some popular ways for you to have your flax!
ORANGE BRAN FLAX MUFFINS
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flax seed, ground
1 cup baker’s bran
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup thin yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 375F
Remove the zest of the oranges and set aside, peel the bitter white pith and discard, then pulp the oranges and combine the pulp with the zest.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Beat eggs add yogurt, oil, vanilla and orange.
Add to dry ingredients and stir just to combine.
Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes until a wooded pick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.
• Makes 12 to 15 muffins (depending on size)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bran cereal
1/3 cup flax seeds, ground
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups shredded cheese
1 cup tomato sauce,
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup diced sweet pepper
2 tbsps ketchup
1 tsp dried oregano
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, cereal, flax seeds, baking powder and salt.
Add oil to milk and combine with flour mixture. Stir to make a soft dough.
Spread dough into a greased 15x10-inch jellyroll pan.
Lightly spread surface with ketchup and tomato sauce using only enough sauce to lightly cover the dough.
Sprinkle on onion and sweet pepper.
Cover with grated cheese, and sprinkle on oregano
Bake for 20 minutes until done.
Cut into squares and serve.
• Serves 6 to 8