Sunday, April 17, 2011

What do you know about Flax?

Last week, Meg cracked the shell of egg science.  She chooses her eggs carefully, caressing each mottled, brown shell before whacking it against the rim of a bowl.  I like using glass bowls, because their physiology involves lips rather than rims.  

This bird's baked goods are made without eggs.  So there's no cracking in my kitchen, just grinding.  

During my early vegan years, I tried many egg substitutes. 

I used tofu in my cookie recipes, later cleverly named Trilety's Tofuicious Chocolate Chip (and sometimes cranberry) Cookies.  I don't use tofu in baking anymore because it yields a cookie too moist for my taste, and I'd prefer to use ingredients that undergo little to no processing. 

I used beans as a substitute for both eggs and butter.  My pinto-bean brownie recipe is a relic, as the treats were not a hit with friends and family.  Pinto beans can be abused - they can be refried and mashed, but whipping them into a brownie must be humiliating.  They are an autonomous bean and need to have their own plate at the table. 

Finally, I started to use flax seed. This seed, which must appear a monstrous, golden rain drop in the world of Sesame Seeds, is healthy and works superbly as a binder/egg substitute in cookies, cakes, and muffins.  (Admission: I have yet to get flax seed to work in a brownie)  

Here are a few health benefits of flax:

  • High in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans (the phytochemical believed to be responsible for reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Reduces total blood cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol.  (I remember that LDL is the Lousy cholesterol and HDL is the Happy cholesterol)
  • Clinical trials have been conducted by the National Institute of Health to confirm the health benefits of flax seed.
We source our flax seed from Grain Place Foods, a local processor and grower.

I used to enjoy the curious and sensual experience of baking with eggs.  Eggs are delicate and wet.  You can try to hold the insides of an egg in your hand, but inevitably, the clear glisten of the viscous egg white will find its way between your fingers like spit between thighs, and you know you just have to let it go.  The yellow of a yolk was a shock to the eye, like the molted spring feathers of a gold finch, it seemed a color that could only be produced by a clever machine or an artistic god.  I miss the slick, stick of eggs, but flax is even better.  

The surface of the flax seed is smooth and shiny, so it appears wet but it's quite dry - a surprise that keeps your hands clean.  

This is what flax seed looks like before it's ground.

Flax seed should be ground to be digested by our guts.  Don't be fooled into buying cereals or baked goods that include whole flax seeds, they may pass un-digested through your intestines.  After flax is ground, its form changes to that of a dense powder, like humid sand or mollisol soil.  It's a joy to sift the powdery clumps of ground flax in a properly washed and dried hand.  

Here is what flax seed looks like after its form has been altered by the metal molars of a grinder.

To provide a proper substitute for the coagulating properties of an egg, flax seed needs to clot, and to do that it needs a liquid.  I mix my ground flax with water, maple syrup, or non-dairy milk.

Now you know how this bird gets her cookies to stay together.  I prefer crumbs on my face, and not in the bag/box.  

Eat some flax! It's good for your bowels! 

~ Trilety


  1. You missed out on titling this entry "Let's Talk About Flax, Baby." You could have had an entire vegan rap ready for out listening pleasure.

  2. Thanks to your influence, I always have a bag of ground flax in my freezer. Always!

    Josh will be confused when I accost him later tonight in the kitchen and coo, "Let's talk about flax, baby." Actually, he'll awkwardly cringe as he tries to kindly, subtly escape my forced attempts at hip hop .