Flax Seeds

Last week I was in the dentist’s office for my regular cleaning appointment. I was glancing through a health magazine while waiting for the dentist to see me. An article on nature’s 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 Nature’s own finest packaging—its 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. You’ll 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.

Hema’s Hints:

  • 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 brunch.

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.

Hema’s Hints:

  • 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: