Last updated on April 4th, 2017
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 the Bob’s Red Mill company, and not endorsing the brand over others.)
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.
Judy Smitley says
I love ‘Overnight Oatmeal’. 1/4 c. uncooked oatmeal, 1/3 c. milk (any kind), 1/4 c. Greek non fat yogurt, 2 Tbls flaxseed meal. Sweeten with honey or applesauce or optional. Stir well. Cover and put in frig for 2+ hours or overnight. If it gets thick (from the flax seed, stir in more milk. This is so good, I always double or triple the recipe. Delicious!!!
I’m just now getting into the benefits of flaxseed. I love the nutrition in it, especially the omegas. My boyfriend has doen a lot of research about how inflammation in our bodies most likely is the cause of so many illnesses including cancer. Flax seed meal is so easy to use. I had oat bran with flax seed mixed in for a hot cereal for breakfast with a little brown sugar today yum !
BTW Re: Muffin In a Minute……
The recipe I posted was from a site found back when I began LCing and I owned an older model microwave. 60 seconds was just about right. Made a muffin yesterday and forgot that I have a new oven with much more oomph! It was over baked at 60 seconds. Baked another this AM and 45 seconds was just about perfect, and even better with some Philly cream cheese slathered over the slices. [I slice mine into fourths.]
Best advice? Check it after 30 seconds, if it feels dry on top and springy, it’s probably done.
I also prefer the golden flaxmeal, and found it in a grocery store, pre-ground. I actually will sprinkle some into a tuna salad or even over a green salad, I am not much of a bread or cereal person, but you can toss it into many things and it has a slight thickening effect (ie. in a vinaigrette).
have you tried the Golden Flaxmeal? it has a less pungent odor and taste. I make ‘bread’ for DH and I quite often and he said it really does taste like bread…
2/3 c Golden Flaxmeal
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp yeast (for the ‘bready’ flavor)
2 packets of Splenda or other sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/3 c water
1 tbs coconut oil
mix in microwave safe dish – the flatter the dish, the more it will be like a piece of bread…if you cook it in a bowl, it makes a great muffin. Microwave from 1-5 minutes (depends on how flattened out the mix is..and how well your microwave works…check it after a minute!) I like to toast this after its cooked to get the underside a bit dryer..you can split the pieces if they are too thick…
yummy with tuna or salmon or egg salad innards…and maybe a slice of tomato…
Have you tried this?
Muffin In a Minute
1/4 cup Flax Meal [8.09]
1/2 tsp. baking powder [.64]
Liquid sweetener – EZSweets 1-2 drops or FiberFit-1/8 tsp
1 tsp. cinnamon [1.84]
1 egg [.6]
1 tsp butter
Put dry ingredients in a coffee mug. Stir well. Add the liquid ingredients, mix well to prevent “pockets” forming in batter.
Microwave for one minute or more if necessary. Remove from mug, slice, enjoy.
Total net carbs = 2.37
I have a concern about the phytoestrogens in flax. Around the same time I started low carbing, I started eating a “Muffin in a Minute” (“MIM”) every morning for breakfast containing 1/4 a cup of flax meal. Within a few days I’d started having vaginal bleeding. I didn’t connect the two at the time, but the bleeding persisted for 6 weeks and was getting very heavy. Googling around, I found that this is sometimes a reported effect of flax. Within two days of stopping the flax, my bleeding stopped as well.
I haven’t determined for certain if it is the flax. I intend to start eating the flax again and seeing if the bleeding starts again. But I do want to put that notice out there that if your body is sensitive to estrogens for any reason, it might be wise to be cautious with flax–particularly if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.