Ingredient of the Week: Ground Flaxseed Meal

What is it? First, let's start with flaxseeds. They're tiny little seeds that are just the slightest bit larger than sesame seeds. They come in a range of colors - from light to dark-brown - depending on the variety.

These seeds can be used for crunch in things like cereal, breads and granola, but are more often used as an additive for their health properties. Enter flaxseed meal.

Our bodies are better able to digest crushed flaxseeds than whole ones, because (pardon the uncouth nature of this statement) in their original form, they usually come out exactly the way they came in - whole. That means that any of the health benefits are not taken in and digested by our bodies.

Why are they so good for us? Those omega-3 fatty acids we've been hearing about for some time are pretty prevalent in flaxseeds. In fact, one tablespoon of flaxseed meal is enough for the recommended daily intake (1.6 grams) for adults.

Flaxseeds have also been studied as a remedy for hot flashes in menopausal women and may help to lower blood pressure in men with high cholesterol.

How is it used? This package says to sprinkle the flaxseed in yogurt and cereal, mix with mustard or mayonnaise on a sandwich, or bake into breads and muffins.

However, for people with food allergies, flaxseed meal mixed with water can act as a substitute for egg in some recipes.

Where can I find it? The Bob's Red Mill brand is widely available. This was bought at the Mrs. Baird's bakery outlet, but look for it in the health food or baking sections of Kroger and HEB.

Recipe: Oatmeal Flaxseed Muffins: Courtesy of Delicious/Nutritious Blog

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Amber Ambrose