Flaxseed is an amazing food with lots of health benefits. Just 2 tablespoons of flaxseed has 4 grams of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, 3 grams of protein, lignans-a member of the estrogen plant family that promotes good colon and breast health-and powerful antioxidants. Flaxseed comes in three basic forms: flaxseed (both whole and ground), flaxseed oil, and flaxseed meal. Flaxseed meal is the best product to use when baking with flaxseed; its consistency is similar to flour and blends well with dry ingredients.
When I bake with flaxseed, I use about 2 tablespoons per 1 cup of flour, which is a good starting point. Some recipes, like whole wheat bread made in a bread machine, can take a little more flaxseed without it being overpowering, and some, like a delicate cake, may need a little less. You can’t really taste flaxseed meal, but you can see tiny brown specks throughout your lighter-colored baked goods that look like tiny seeds. It doesn’t alter the texture, either; I bake with flaxseed meal all the time, and my three kids never notice the difference. While there are lots of good flaxseed recipes out there, I just add it to my existing recipes. I keep a bag of flaxseed meal in my refrigerator and use it whenever I’m baking. My favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal, which I buy in my regular supermarket. A 1-pound bag lasts me a month or two, depending on how much I bake with flaxseed, and keeps well in the fridge. You can also keep it in the freezer if you use it less frequently. I also run it through a food mill and grain mill before using.
Here are some tips for cooking and baking with flaxseed:
- When you bake with flaxseed meal in a regular recipe, use 2 tablespoons per every one cup of flour. As you get more familiar with the product, you can vary the amount according to taste and preference.
- Add flaxseed meal to your recipe with the flour and mix well.
- Not only do flaxseed recipes like breads and muffins turn out well, you can also add flaxseed to cakes, cookies, pancakes, and waffles.
- Flaxseed meal also adds a great nutritional boost when sprinkled over hot cereals like oatmeal, cold cereals, or even yogurt.
- You can blend flaxseed meal into savory dishes too like delicious casseroles, tasty meatballs and perfect meatloaf, and stuffing.
Here is a delicious and healthy flaxseed recipe for Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins that everyone in my family loves. My healthy variation calls for flaxseed meal and half whole wheat flour for a nutritional boost that’s great for an everyday breakfast or snack. Just remember that baking with flaxseed is simple; you won’t even notice it’s there, but your body will thank you for all of the wonderful nutritional benefits it provides.
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