Food of the Week: Flaxseed

The food of the week for my last column was beef, so now let’s trek to the other side of the carnivore–vegan spectrum to give some loving to flaxseeds. This also gives me an opportunity to give a shout-out to my home state of North Dakota, which grew over 90 percent of the nation’s flax in 2010, according to one source I found. 

When it comes to nutrition, flaxseeds are perhaps especially notable for their high levels of alpha linolenic acid, a form of omega-3 fatty acids. Although many experts regard the omega-3s of flaxseeds as inferior to those of fish and fish oil supplements, flax still provides some of the many benefits of this type of fat. Also, the lignans in flaxseed may help prevent breast cancer and Type 2 diabetes. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 37 calories, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. 

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

This is a quick bread I turn to often when I want to bake something. The batter also works for muffins. 

1 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. ground flaxseed
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
¼ c. canola oil
½ c. unsweetened applesauce
¼ c. apple juice or water
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. nutmeg
1 c. dried cranberries 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat two small loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside. 

2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the remaining wet ingredients and the spices. Stir in the cranberries.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Note: I’ve used varieties of baby food (fruit and/or vegetable puree) instead of the applesauce, with no discernable difference in taste. For some reason organic baby food often makes its way into the clearance sections of grocery stores. 

Kale Smoothie 

Kale Smoothie
Kale Smoothie

Green drinks all the way! If you’re used to the super-sweet smoothies found at gas stations, among other locations, this might strike you as too vegetable-y, but what do you have to lose by trying it? 

1 banana, sliced and frozen
1 ½ c. chopped kale
1 T. ground flaxseed 
1 T. coconut oil (opt.)
¼ - ½ c. milk
1/3 c. orange juice 

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. 

Energy Bars

This recipe makes about the equivalent of 14 Clif bars, which these look and taste like (and actually, I think they taste a bit better). A lot of the ingredients are available in bulk sections of food co-ops, although I had to get soy nuts at Super One. 

1 ½ c. rolled oats
1 c. slivered blanched almonds
1 c. walnuts
½ c. soy nuts
2 c. crispy brown rice cereal
2 c. nonfat dry milk powder
½ c. wheat germ
½ c. raisins
½ c. chocolate chips
1/3 cup flax seed meal
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt
4 egg whites
¾ c. canola oil 
1 c. honey 
2 t. vanilla 

1. Preheat an oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. 

2. Grind the oats, almonds, walnuts, and soy nuts in a food processor. Pour into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the rice cereal, dry milk, wheat germ, raisins, chocolate chips, flax, cinnamon, and salt. 

3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Stir in the canola oil, honey, and vanilla, and pour into the dry mixture. Stir until evenly moistened and press into the prepared pan. 

4. Bake until the mixture is hot, about 20 minutes. Lift the foil out of the pan and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack, then remove the foil and cut into bars while still warm. 

Note: Instead of a whole cup of honey, you can use a mixture of half honey, half agave nectar. You can also use regular instead of brown crispy rice cereal, which is healthier but more expensive. 

Cookie Dough Hummus 

Cookie Dough Hummus
Cookie Dough Hummus

I know, sounds pretty weird. You can tell it’s not really cookie dough, but it is nice served with apple slices, pretzels, crackers, or graham crackers, spread on a banana, or rolled up in a pita.

2 T. raisins
¼ c. unsweetened applesauce
2 T. peanut butter
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. maple syrup or agave nectar
½ t. canola oil
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. salt
1 T. ground flaxseed
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained 
1 T. instant oatmeal or oat bran
1-2 T. shredded coconut 

Heat some water in a small bowl and soak the raisins for a few minutes, then drain. In a food processor, combine the applesauce, peanut butter, vanilla extract, syrup or agave, canola oil, cinnamon, salt, and flaxseed. Add the garbanzo beans, drained raisins, instant oatmeal or bran, and coconut, and process until smooth. Serve chilled. 

Anadama Quick Bread

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 ¼ c. whole wheat flour
¼ c. ground flaxseed
½ c. yellow cornmeal
2 t. baking powder
¾ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
1 1/3 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. molasses
¼ c. butter, melted
1 egg
Poppy seeds (opt.) 

Preheat oven to 350° and grease a loaf pan. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Stir the wet mixture in the dry until just