When I married my hubby, I discovered we were completely different species. He loved to spend hours researching his papers in college and had a terrible time getting all his thoughts onto paper. I, on the other hand, hated the research stage and loved to write. In high school (before the internet was all the rage) I would go to the children’s library and take out all the books on my subject. Once I had the overview on my topic I could spew out an educated, 8 page, single-spaced essay on the topic in an evening and get an “A” when I turned it in the next day. (I might have been a procrastinator, but I kept telling myself I did my best work under pressure.) The problem came later in life when we discovered that because I had crammed all the information into my brain in one evening, nothing stayed in my long term memory. It worked well for regurgitating information onto exams and papers, but ask me anything about those courses today and I will give you a blank stare. My hubby, however, could easily re-teach any of those classes. All this is to explain why there will be no long, technical research included in my blogs. You will be getting the “Cliff Notes” version and a link to where to get all the juicy details if you are more inclined like my hubby.
Flaxseeds. Those little brown or golden seeds that we keep hearing are important, because of their omega-3 properties, but really have no idea why. I am here to demystify them for you and provide a yummy breakfast recipe to include them. See also my ginger molasses cookie recipe for a tasty treat to incorporate them. My research is mainly derived from webmd and doctoroz, for those wanting a more thorough analysis just click the links.
There is really not much difference in the area of health benefits between the two seed colours, so whichever you find in the grocery store is beneficial. The flaxseed oil is not as useful as it takes away the good fiber. The best way to prepare them is to gring them up in a coffee grinder just before consuming. We keep two mini coffee grinders in our cabinet, one for seeds and one for coffee beans. It is recommended you eat 1-2 tablespoons a day for all the health benefits, but start slowly so you aren’t bloated. Don’t eat them whole, as your body cannot metabolizes the shell and you won’t reap any benefits other than fiber.
As mentioned, flaxseeds are a great source of fiber for the North American diet that is consistently lacking. Each tablespoon contains about 8 grams of fiber. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams of fiber a day, men need 38 grams and the average American adult only gets around 15 grams. Yikes!
Another important component of the seeds is their source of omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies cannot produce these essential fatty acids, so they must be consumed. The flaxseed contains a different type of fatty acid than fish, so both are necessary. The plant omega-3s help lower blood pressure, improve the cardiovascular functions, regulate cholesterol, inhibit tumours, regulate heartbeat and the list continues.
Finally, these seeds contain lignans. Lignans have estrogen metabolizing benefits and antioxidants. Flax has anywhere from 75-800 times more lignans than any other plant. In the long run, it has been shown to help menopausal women reduce hot flashes, reduce the risk of breast cancer (as well as colon and prostate cancer), moderate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, prevent heart attacks (by reducing plaque build up), reduce the risk of strokes and more!
As you can see, flaxseeds are very important to consume. I try to hide them in my children’s snacks (more on that in another blog), and add them to my morning oatmeal. I am the only in my family who likes “overnight oats”. I have no idea why my family prefers cereal to oatmeal, but after several flavour attempts, have given up trying to entice them. I love preparing a week’s worth of oatmeal jars in advance so I always have a quick, warm, healthful breakfast ready for our busy morning routine. There are several flavours I enjoy, but my absolute favourite one includes my two favourite things; coffee and chocolate. Yum! This recipe is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free! I eat these year round, warm or cold weather, I love oatmeal!
Mocha Overnight Oats
Recipe adapted from mywholefoodlife.com. Makes 1 serving.
1/2 cup large flake oats (gluten free if needed and organic if preferred)
1/3 cup of unsweetened organic almond milk
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup of boiling water
2 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp chia seeds (ground or not, up to you)
1 tsp ground flax seeds
Melt the instant coffee in the 1/4 cup of boiling water and add to your mason jar (or other microwave safe container).
Add the rest of the ingredients to the jar and stir well. It should look like the photo below.
Place in the fridge overnight or up to 1 week. The next morning your oats will look like the photo below.
To serve add about an eighth of a cup of water to the top and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir well and enjoy immediately!