The 52 New Foods Challenge – Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are up next and I’m happy to report that I like flax seeds and I eat them regularly. They have a host of health benefits , but most people do not properly prepare them, and therefore do not get to capitalize on their health benefits. Read on for how to properly prepare flax. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends adding ground flaxseeds to homemade granola bars or to strawberry-banana smoothies. In the food facts, I’ll add some precautions about using ground flaxseeds in these manners.
Food Facts:

  • Flax seeds are a good source of fiber.
  • High in vitamin B6, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper.
  • They are also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid and phytoestrogens known as lignans. These have been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease.
  • Flax have been shown to protect against prostate cancer.
  • Highest plant sources of omega-3 oils
  • Benefits heart, arteries, skin, hair, & brain
  • Great for your gut & constipation
  • Antioxidant rich 
  • Protects against breast & colon cancers
  • Create a mucilage when soaked in liquids (similar to chia seeds)
  • Their densely packed nutrition cannot be accessed if not properly prepared. The body simply cannot digest, and therefore take advantage of, the nutrients housed in whole flaxseeds.
    • You can grind them yourself if you have a Vitamix 32-ounce Dry Grains Container  for a Vitamix Blender, or something similar. You can also buy them already ground, BUT the container should be opaque and there should be an expiration date that is fairly soon (a couple of months). They should be stored in the fridge (as with all raw nuts and seeds).
    • You can also soak whole flaxseeds in liquid. This will increase their absorption. If you plan to add them to your yogurt, I suggest that you add them the night before. If you plan to add them to a smoothie, add them to whatever liquid you use in the smoothie the night before and allow them to soak overnight.
    • I’m still on the fence about baking with them. Because Omega-3s are a fragile fat (heat-sensitive) I worry about baking with them. But I also know that while the oven gets fairly warm, the internal temperatures of baked goods doesn’t necessarily get to the oven temp. My current opinion is: if you bake with them, the oven temp should be 325-350 maximum and don’t eat them in baked goods all that often.
  • Flaxseed oils should always be cold pressed, purchased in opaque bottles, and should be refrigerated.
  • Be sure to never heat flax oil to avoid oxidation!
  • Flaxseeds contain a moderate amount of oxalate, so those with a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should watch their consumption.

From Bauman College lecture notes, The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes, by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet, by Tonia Reinhard, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.

Photo Cred: Luv Kreativ Photography

Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding

Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding [Paleo, GF, Primal, Vegetarian]

Recipe:
1 can full-fat coconut milk

2-4 tbsp. chia seeds (2 for a thinner pudding and 4 for a thicker pudding)

10-15 organic strawberries, rinsed and trimmed

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. raw honey

Directions:

  1. Place coconut milk, chia seeds, and strawberries in food processor and pulse until it becomes a smooth consistency.
  2. Add the vanilla and honey. Pulse until just incorporated.
  3. Place into small jars and store in refrigerator for 1-2 hours or overnight. Chia seeds become gelatinous and will thicken the pudding as it sits. It can also be eaten right away.

Modifications:

There are many other options for chia seed pudding. Try experimenting with other seasonal fruits like peaches, raspberries, pears, blueberries, and even pumpkin. Also consider adding nuts, other seeds, and spices. The possibilities are endless!

Coconut Milk comes from the coconut and is found in tropical regions in Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands. Coconuts contain healthful medium chain fatty acids such as lauric acid and capric acid, which are antiviral and antibacterial. These medium chain fatty acids are easily absorbed by the body and help to increase the metabolism. They also protect against heart disease and promote weight loss. In addition to fatty acids, coconuts also contain healthy carbohydrates and some protein. Coconuts are a good source of manganese, molybdenum, copper, zinc, and selenium. When choosing a coconut milk, avoid the low fat options because the beneficial medium chain fatty acids have been removed.

Chia seeds are those same seeds that are used in the popular Chia pets. They come from the plant Salvia Hispanica that grows in the deserts of Mexico. They help to reduce food cravings, reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, and they are easier to digest than flax. Chia seeds should be soaked in water before using, creating a chia gel, which helps to hydrate the body. Chia seeds are rich in Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of antioxidants, potassium, calcium, iron, dietary fiber, and they have some protein too!

Strawberries are the most popular berries in the world and are native to many parts of the world. Strawberries are rich sources of vitamins C, K, B6, and B1, silicon, fiber, flavonoids, manganese, pantothenic acid, iodine, folic acid, and biotin. Their flavonoid content helps to protect against inflammation, cancer, and heart disease. When storing berries, do not wash them until you plan on eating them because berries start to breakdown when they are moist. Strawberries are consistently on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, so it is very important to buy organic strawberries.

Honey is one of the four items that bees produce. Honey is rich in riboflavin, iron, manganese, and vitamin B6. It is also rich in antioxidants and it is an antiseptic. Local honeys are also said to help with seasonal allergies.

Nutrition Facts for one 1/2 cup serving

Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding Label

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do NOT provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.

Sources:

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014). Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.

Environmental Working Group (EWG). (2014, April). EWG’s 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.

Nuts.com (2014, April). 7 Good Reasons to Start Eating Chia Seeds. Retrieved from http://www.nuts.com/cookingbaking/chia-seeds/premium.html

WebMD. (2014, April). The Truth About Chia. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia