I ended up with a lot of flax seeds as a result of my bread-making attempts
; being me, I decided to look into how I could use these in creative ways. According to the Canadian Flax Council
, milled flax seeds can be substituted for oil or shortening in a recipe due to their high oil content, in a ratio of 3 parts flax for 1 part oil. This claim piqued my interest, because regardless of the oil content, wouldn’t ground seeds be kind of… powdery? Which is very different to other fats and oils used in cooking…
Time for an experiment!
My recipe is based on the jam drops from “A Kid’s First Book of Cooking
“. I attempted to grind my flax seeds in a food processor (to use as a butter replacement), which was easier said than done. Instead of grinding up to a powder, they mostly spun around and flew everywhere, somehow finding every tiny gap to escape from and throwing themselves around my kitchen. I then tried putting them in a zip-lock bag and bashing them with a rolling pin (no luck), and chopping them with a knife (very tedious). I put them back in the food processor, and after about 10 minutes, they looked like this:
Mostly seeds, a little powder
At that point, I decided to put some marg in and be done with it, because this was getting nowhere. And… magic!
They somehow seem more ground?!
After adding sugar, milk and vanilla:
It’s almost like the more stuff I added, the more easily the seeds were crushed.
It wasn’t perfect, but I could learn from it.
Final product from my first attempt
Then I tried to improve on beginner’s luck my first attempt in order to take them to band, and they turned out worse – softer and more obviously seedy.
Finally, I learnt from both of these, tried again and tested them out on my classmates, to some actual success. That version of the recipe is below.
What are people claiming about flax?
According to my packet of flax seeds, flax is an “Omega 3 Superfood”. What does the evidence say?
There is fair evidence (level B) to suggest that flaxseed consumption (2-5 tbsp/day whole or ground) can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, particularly when a person has high cholesterol, but doesn’t affect HDL (good) cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Flaxseed oil doesn’t seem to have an effect on cholesterol (1,2)*. 2-5 tablespoons seems like quite a bit to me, but if you recall, fibre generally has positive effects on cholesterol, so whether through flax or another seed, or fruits/vegetables/wholegrains, it’s better than a kick in the pants.
Also, in a couple of trials, healthy menopausal women taking 25-40g/day of flaxseed supplement felt that their menopausal symptoms improved compared with placebos (3,4)*.
I’ll let you decide whether to call it a superfood or not based on that**. 😛
*I got this information from the Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN) database, which requires a subscription to look at, so I have referenced using their sources.
** I don’t believe in superfoods, I believe in a balanced diet; however, flax seeds are a healthy food overall and a source of several good fats which are useful for the maintenance of good health.
What difference did it make?
Because I was replacing a fat source (which has no fibre) with quite a high-fibre seed, there was a bit of difference – 1g per biscuit and 4.8g per 100g (a little over 4x more). Keep in mind that the seedy biscuits turned out denser than the originals when looking at the info below.
The recipe – Seedy Jam Drops
- 6 tbsp flax seeds (linseeds)
- 3 tbsp margarine
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 3.5 tbsp milk
- 3/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1/3 cup custard powder
- 2-3 tbsp jam (e.g. raspberry)
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line a couple of baking trays.
- Put seeds and margarine in a food processor, process until seeds are partially ground.
- Add sugar; continue to process.
- Slowly add milk and vanilla; process until seeds are moderately finely ground (it might take a solid 20 minutes or more all up, but make it as fine as you can).
- Transfer seed mixture to a bowl; add sifted flour and custard powder. Mix until it forms a dough and is well-combined.
- Roll 2 tsp of the mixture at a time into balls and place on trays. Flatten slightly, and make an indent in the top of each biscuit (the end of a wooden spoon sometimes works well for this, depending on what your spoons are like).
- Drop 1/4 tsp jam into each indent. Bake biscuits for 15-18 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Leave on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
What did people think?
Mum: “It smells like paint thinner!”
Second attempt (at band):
It turns out that if you give people the option to compare to the original recipe when something is obviously different, they tend to notice and comment on the differences more. People who didn’t see the normal jam drops would say things like, “they’re good!”, whereas people who had the option tended to say things like, “they taste healthy”. It wasn’t the most secret of secret fibre recipes. 😉 I was also told that “it has an interesting texture”, which was described as “spongey”.
Too much choice, perhaps
Third attempt (in class):
Feedback was positive, and some people asked for seconds! Also: “It doesn’t taste like linseeds”.
What do you think?