Around 1920, Claude Debussy wrote a lovely melody called ”The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.”
I’m not sure what color hair he had in mind since flaxseed comes in a rich dark brown and also a beige color called golden flaxseed. Whatever the color, I am here to sing the praises of flaxseed and to give you a couple of simple recipes to deliciously incorporate flax into your diet.
Why should you want to eat flaxseed? My favorite vegan guru Dr. Michael Greger, in his best-selling book “How not to Die” touts flaxseed as a most nutritious and disease-fighting food. On his website, nutritionfacts.org, there are many videos showing scientific evidence concerning the positive effects of flaxseed on high blood pressure, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
This miraculous defense against these diseases is the reason he recommends a tablespoon of flax daily. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (includes the omega 3s), 2 grams of dietary fiber and 37 calories. I skip the fish oil and its mercury content and eat flax for my daily dose of omega 3.
Somewhere in the 1970s, I bumped into a research paper by Dr. Johanna Budwig, who touted flax and cottage cheese as a cure for breast cancer. That Christmas I gifted my sister a coffee grinder and bought one for myself dedicated to the grinding of flax. Now it is easy to find pre-ground flaxseed (sometimes called flaxmeal), but for the next 40 years my sister and I had ground flax and cottage cheese for breakfast.
Actually, the article talked about flax oil emulsified with cottage cheese and we didn’t do that. When I became vegan I read that a little hot pepper could replace the cottage cheese. I still include flax in my daily diet, but in more enjoyable ways.
My favorite recipe is my breakfast flax cookies, which I can eat at home or on the go. I have smuggled my flax cookies into Cuba and back. At one point my explanation of my need for vegan flax so confused the immigration officer, she said, “Can we just call it granola?”
These cookies are similar to granola but without any oil, salt or sugar. I love baking my cookies and crackers on silicone baking mats. You won’t have to bother with greasing pans or using parchment paper. Ask for them at Christmas; the environment will love you for it.
Breakfast flax cookies — makes 9 cookies — 3 servings
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- ½ c ground flaxseed, brown or golden
- ½ c oats
- 1 t. each ground ginger and cinnamon
- A shake or two of cayenne pepper
- ½ c raisins
- ½ c unsweetened applesauce
- 1 heaping T. peanut butter of your choice
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flaxseed, oats and spices. Add the raisins and stir, breaking up any raisin clumps. Add applesauce and the peanut butter. (I use a soup spoon for the peanut butter and use it to press the peanut butter into the ingredients.) Stir with the soup spoon until the mixture forms a loose ball.
2. On a cookie sheet lined with a baking mat (or parchment paper), scoop up a little less than a quarter cup of dough with your soup spoon. With your other clean hand, remove the dough from the spoon and make a rough cookie mound on the baking mat. Try for 9 mounds. The size is not critical. (I like 9 because 3 cookies are breakfast and I bake every fourth day.)
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Substitution: Swap raisins for vegan chocolate chips and peanut butter for almond butter. You may or may not want to leave out the cinnamon with chocolate and almond flavors. Food is personal, you decide. This recipe impresses company.
What if you don’t want cookies and still want flaxseed? I just made some dynamite flax crackers that will also give you your daily dose of this amazing food. One caveat: I tossed in ½ c water and that was too much. Next time I’ll use water wisdom.
Flax crackers — Yields about 20 crackers
Preheat oven to 350
- 1 c ground flaxseed, brown or golden
- ½ c coarsely ground raw sunflower seeds (any seeds are fine, whatever you have — pumpkin, sesame — even no seeds, just flax, but the addition of sunflower seeds was wonderful. I recommend it.)
- 2 t. onion powder
- 1 t. garlic powder
- ½ t. salt
- ⅛-¼ t. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 t. dried oregano (or rosemary, basil, dill, anything you like or a combination.)
- Water — start with ¼ c and slowly add until you can gather the ingredients into a workable ball.
1. Put all dry ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add water and stir until a workable consistency is achieved.
2. Put the ball onto a baking mat or parchment paper. Because my dough was sticky with too much water, I put parchment paper on top to roll dough to desired thickness. Too thick (¼ inch) and the dough will not crisp up.) Score the dough with a table knife into cracker size pieces. It will break easily along these lines after baking.
3. Put mat onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough.
Enjoy your flax crackers with a cup of hibiscus tea and just feel your blood pressure go down.
Joyce Marner has been vegan since Ash Wednesday of 2013. She is on the board of the Vegan Community of Eastern Iowa. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the VCEI website at https://www.veganeasterniowa.org/ or join the group on Facebook and Meetup.