Last week I was in the
dentists office for my regular cleaning appointment. I was glancing
through a health magazine while waiting for the dentist to see me. An
article on natures wonder-food, flaxseeds, caught my attention.
The article went on to describe how researchers have found that flax seeds
are helpful in fighting heart disease, guard against hypertension, prevent
cancer, control diabetes, and a long list of other health benefits. I
did not finish reading the article, but it sparked my interest in finding
out more about this wonder-food.
I visited a neighborhood
health store and decided to seek out the flaxseeds. I was astounded to
find that flaxseeds, was none other than akshi which my grandmother
and mother used in making chutney, a relish, for our everyday meal in
India. These seeds are flat, oval, glossy, and are pointed at one end.
The color of the flaxseed ranges from light to dark reddish brown. Whole
flaxseed comes with Mother Natures own finest packagingits
natural hard hull keeps it fresh.
Flaxseed has long been
valued for its health benefits but only recently have researchers investigated
its helpful compounds. One of the unique characteristics of flax is the
oil in the seed. Flaxseed is over 40 percent oil. Like other vegetable
oils, flax oil is a mixture of fatty acids, but it is the highest single
source of a fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA.
Whole flax seeds are
sold inexpensively at natural-food stores and It is best to buy them whole
and grind them as needed in a coffee grinder. It is imperative to grind
these tiny, hard-shelled seeds, or they will pass through the body undigested.
Ground flax meal is also available in some health stores but it should
be refrigerated in an airtight, opaque container, where it will keep for
up to 30 days. Youll know that flax meal has spoiled if it smells
like oil paint.
I personally think that
flax seeds have a major flaw. The taste is boringly bland. But, thanks
to the art of seasoning, healthy food can really taste good too.
Here are two of my favorite
recipes with flax seeds.
AKSHI CHUTNEY (Flax seed Relish)
1 cup flax seeds
4-5 dried red chilies ( or as per taste)
¾ teaspoon salt ( or as per taste)
In a toaster oven
place the seeds, and red chilies at 250 degrees for 10-12 minutes. You
will get the nutty roasted aroma. Alternatively
you may roast this mix in a pan on medium heat for 7-8 minutes. Cool
for 15 minutes and grind the seeds to the consistency of cornmeal in
a coffee grinder. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator -
stays for one month.
- Mix 1 tablespoon
flax chutney to 2 tablespoons low fat cream cheese to make a delicious
and nutritious spread for bagels.
- Add the flax seed
chutney to cooked beans or stew
- Sprinkle this mix
on salad as a final garnish
- Replace Mayonnaise
in sandwiches with blend of one tablespoon flax chutney with ½
tablespoon of plain yogurt.
My English friend, Julie
Jenkins, introduced me to the world of scones. I decided to add flaxseed
to make the recipe more nutritious. These scones are perfect for tea or
13/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup flax seed
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon orange essence
1 teaspoon orange rind
1/2 cup dried cranberries (chopped)
8-10 almonds (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon orange essence
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
Heat the oven to 400°F.
On a cookie sheet place a wax paper and grease well.
Grind the flax seeds
to a coarse texture in a blender or coffee grinder. In a bowl mix all
the dry ingredients well and keep aside. Mix buttermilk, oil, and orange
essence together. Mix the dry ingredients with the buttermilk mix.
Knead gently with
floured hands. Form the dough into a 7-inch circle across, 1/2 inch
high. Place this on the greased cookie sheet. With a sharp knife make
8 wedges, leaving them in place. Sprinkle sugar over these wedges.
Bake at 400° for
18-20 minutes, till the crust develops a golden hue and the center is
semi-firm. Cool completely and Serve hot with a pat of butter.
- For variety, replace
orange essence with 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom powder.
- Whole wheat pastry
flour is available in health stores.
If you would like more information and recipes about
flax seeds, these are some other interesting blogs: