Versatile Flax Boosts Nutrition and Flavor in Baked Goods
Flax is a natural superfood, packed with healthy nutrients and antioxidants. Also known as flaxseed or flax meal, it has nearly 2g of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in every tablespoon. Gram for gram, flaxseed has an equivalent amount of omega-3 as salmon – without the fishy taste! This vegetarian version of healthy fats has been linked to overall cardiovascular health. In addition, ground flaxseed is packed with fiber for digestive health as well as lignan, a strong antioxidant. Lignan has been implicated in the prevention of some types of cancers, including breast and colon cancer. (Elaine Magee, MHP, RD, “The Benefits of Flaxseed”)
Flax is available as a supplement containing only the omega-3 fatty acids, whole seeds, or ground flaxseed. Whole flaxseed is hard for the body to digest, and many nutrients are lost. Consuming ground flaxseed (flax meal) provides the maximum benefit of omega-3s, fiber, and lignan. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on cereal, yogurt or added unnoticed to many main dishes. The Flaxseed Council of Canada recommends just 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily for optimal benefits.
Versatility in Baking with Flaxseed
Flax meal is easy to use. It really shines in its versatility in baked goods. Flaxseed adds a hearty, nutty flavor that complements many recipes. It increases moistness and texture. According to Ameriflax, there are three main areas where ground flax stands out in baking:
For a nutrient-packed flour substitute, ground flaxseed excels. In addition to the health benefits, it creates a more moist and chewy product. Replace up to 15% of the flour in a recipe with ground flaxseed. This is equivalent of about 1/3 cup of ground flaxseed per 2 cups of flour called for in a recipe. If adding flax to a yeast bread recipe, increase the yeast by 25% for the best results.
Ground flax is an excellent vegan egg substitute. It works well in many quick bread, cookie, pancake and waffle recipes. To equal, one egg simply combine 3 tablespoons of warm water and 1 tablespoon of ground flax in a small bowl. In a few minutes, it will thicken and can be added to the batter.
Flaxseed comes in two equally nutritious varieties, golden and brown. Quick breads like banana, zucchini and pumpkin can disguise the dark speckles if there’s a finicky eater around. The delicious taste certainly won’t give it away!
Because of its high oil content, ground flaxseed should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. It will remain fresh up to a month and a half. Whole flaxseed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Whole flaxseed may be easily ground using a food processor, blender or the best coffee grinder.
Flaxseed may be a baker’s best superfood. Not only is it extremely nutritious, it’s also easy to add, versatile and, of course, delicious.