A while ago, I wrote about flax seed meal in a post entitled Great foods for a low-carb diet (part 2): seeds. I was mildly disparaging, not about the obvious nutritional benefits of flax seed meal, but about the taste and consistency. Having now finished my first bag of flax seed meal, it’s a good time for a second-look.
My overall impression is positive. Flax seed meal satisfies my craving for a hot cereal that is easy to prepare and non-grain based.
Pictured is the actual one-pound bag of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal that I just finished. I bought it at a local supermarket in late April. The price was $4.19.
Flax Seed Freshness
The first thing to note is that I had this bag of flax seed meal for over three months. I was concerned that the meal might go rancid.
Laura Dolson, in an article at About.com, warns that flax seeds “will go rancid more quickly after being ground up into meal. For this reason, many people choose to buy whole flax seed and grind it into meal themselves (this takes seconds in a blender or coffee grinder).”
I considered buying flax seed and grinding it myself as needed. Apparently, the whole seeds will stay fresh for as long as a year without refrigeration. In the end, though, convenience ruled, and I bought the meal.
As it turned out, the Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal stayed fresh. It’s sold in an opaque package, which Dolson says is a must, and I kept it in the refrigerator. The package copy also says it can be kept frozen.
I’m not sure I agree that the meal has a “robust, nutty flavor,” as the package copy claims, but it tastes OK. More to the point, it tasted the same to me in August as it tasted in April. So, based on that, when I buy flax seed meal again (which I plan to do this week), it will be Bob’s Red Meal. (Note: I am not receiving compensation in any form from Bob’s Red Mill.)
Flax Seed Nutrition
NCCAM (the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health) notes several supplemental uses for flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Because flax seed contains soluble fiber, like that found in oat bran, it is sometimes used a laxative. It is reputed to decrease hot flashes, though study results are mixed.
It has also been recommended for lowering cholesterol levels, but again study results are mixed, with the cholesterol-lowering effects “more apparent in postmenopausal women and in people with high initial cholesterol.” NCCAM is funding more studies to establish the health benefits of consuming flax seed in its various forms.
In the meantime, we know that, in addition to considerable fiber, flax seed provides omega-3 fatty acids, widely held to be a key in reducing inflammation in our bodies. Flax seed also contains high amounts of so-called phytochemicals, which includes many anti-oxidants. The principal anti-oxidants in flax seed are called lignans. According to the Red Mill package copy, to get as many lignans from fresh broccoli, you’d need to eat 30 cups. (For more nutrition details, see Dolson’s Flax Seed: The Low Carb Whole Grain.)
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for a two tablespoon portion of Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal:
- Calories — 60
- Total fat — 4.5g
- Saturated fat — 0.5g
- Total carbohydrate — 4g
- Fiber — 4g (1.33g soluble)
- Protein — 3g
As shown, the total carbs are equaled by the fiber, resulting in net carbs of zero. A two tablespoon serving of the meal contains 2,400mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Flax Seed Recipes
Bob’s Red Mill lists some basic dietary uses for its flax seed meal. It can be a stand-in for some or all of the oil in a recipe, as an egg replacer, or an add-in for cold or hot cereal.
Of course, I don’t eat much cereal on my low-carb diet! The exception has been a small amount of oatmeal. I developed a recipe for something I call “Flax-Oat Peanut Butter Meal,” consisting of a quarter-cup of rolled oats with a tablespoon of flax meal, a tablespoon of peanut butter, cinnamon, and three quarters-cup water. I microwave this mixture on 50% power for five minutes.
The rolled oats contribute 11 net grams of carbs to the concoction. I include the oats to improve the consistency of the cooked flax seed meal, which I find rather “goopy.”
The base recipe (not including cream or any other add-on) contains 15g net carbs, 6g fiber, 10g protein, 19g fat, and 355 calories.
Since originally writing about the Flax-Oat Peanut Butter Meal recipe, I have tried Laura Dolson’s flax meal only version a few more times. I guess I’m getting adjusted to the goopiness, or perhaps some of the small modifications and add-ons I’ve made have helped, but I find the consistency more to my liking now.
My version of Flax Meal Peanut Butter Hot Cereal includes a quarter cup of flax seed meal, two-thirds cup of water, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and about a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. I mix the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, and then microwave on 50% power for five minutes.
Possible add-ons or mix-ins include blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, cream cheese, butter, and heavy cream.
The base recipe (just the flax meal and peanut butter) contains about 4g net carbs, 10g fiber, 15g protein, 25g fat, and 322 calories. (Because of all that fiber, Dolson advises trying a half-recipe at first, and drinking plenty of water.)
The Bob’s Red Mill web site offers a Low Carb Hot Cereal recipe featuring wheat bran, flax seeds, flax seed meal and whey. I haven’t tried it.
For more flax seed meal recipes, see Easy Ways to get Flax Into Your Diet — About.com.