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Flax

(Linum usitatissimum)

 

Flax is considered one of the most virtuous and appreciated plants since ancient times. In fact, the seeds can be used for food (both human and livestock) and herbal remedies, while the rest of the plant produces high-quality fibers. Already six thousand years ago in Egypt, it was used to weave linen bandages that were precious then, as they were used to wrap the mummies of the pharaohs. With has emollient properties, flax also has a cosmetic use, and is used especially for skin and hair. There are about 200 species of flax, with flowers that vary in many colors, besides the classic blue color, you can also find violet, yellow, red, white, pink, and others. On a farming level, this plant is very important regarding crop rotation, because it is highly renewable, since it improves the soil and is less demanding in terms of nutrients. Among other things, the fields of flax in bloom are a remarkable naturalistic sight to behold.

 

On a nutritional level, flax seeds have a very high protein content. These proteins have a high organic quality. The seeds don’t contain any starch or simple sugars, and are very rich in fiber and mucilage . Mucilage is a dietary fiber that is a very important component of human life. Even though it cannot be considered a nutrient, actively effects the body’s functions and metabolism. In addition to increasing satiety and improving the bowel function and disorders associated with it, introducing fiber into foods has been linked to a reduction of the risk for major chronic diseases. The mucilage are composed of rather heterogeneous polysaccharides that dilate, when in contact with water, forming viscose but not sticky colloidal solutions. This characteristic causes laxative effect, making mucilage an interesting property in herbal remedies.
Lipids, however, represent the most important part, both in quality as well as quantity, consisting primarily (approximately 90%) of unsaturated fatty acids: oleic (monounsaturated), linoleic and linolenic acid (polyunsaturated).
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 (linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid), are considered beneficial nutraceutical substances for activities that take place in the body, in particular:

preventing the build-up of the most dangerous fat, triglycerides and cholesterol, on the artery walls, blocking the hardening of blood vessels. In this way they protect the cardiovascular system. Made ​​more fluid by the absence of "bad" fats, the blood circulates better. This, in turn, makes the heart work well, removing the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Protecting cells from aging and degenerative diseases, such as cancer, because they are potent antioxidants alleviating inflammatory reactions, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis and affecting microcirculation; also boosting the immune system and strengthening the defences of the skin. Promoting the viability of the central nervous system’s cells, with anti-depressive activities. Ω-3 fatty even help protect the brain from attention deficit disorder. A study, published in the journal Nutrition shows that eating 2.5 grams of Ω-3 a day improves the functioning of neurotransmitters, the communication between brain cells and especially increases concentration.

 

 



Brown or Golden flax seeds?


It’s a good idea is to soak 2 tablespoons of flaxseed in 1 cup water in the evening and drink it the next day on an empty stomach. Since the whole seeds are not very digestible, you can take full advantage of their properties well before adding them to a food processor (remember that once ground up, they must be consumed in a short period of time because they go bad easily). You can be very creative with Flax seeds: sprinkle on salads and soups, use them on breakfast cereal, add to desserts, season pieces of fish in a pan or sprinkle over grilled vegetables.
Perhaps not everyone knows that the ground flax seeds can also be an excellent substitute for eggs. A tablespoon of ground flax mixed with three tablespoons of hot water replaces one egg in recipes for baked goods. When preparing cookies and cakes, they act as a binder. Flax seeds have a very noticeable taste and it is recommended to use them in pancakes, muffins and baked goods. But remember, as with all types of food, do not exaggerate in your quantities. Two teaspoons a day is more than enough to meet the daily requirement of omega 3.

 
How to use them:

Among other things, they are ideal for breakfast or a snack, because of their high energetic value. Eaten together with other foods or alone, it is recommended to consume 10-20 grams per day. They are delicious when added to bread mixtures, natural plain yogurt, salads, grilled vegetables, or eaten alone.

 

 

Flax “Egg”

 

In a blender combine 1 part flax seeds with 2 parts of hot water, let stand 15 minutes and blend until the mixture is gelatinous and the seeds are no longer visible. One tablespoon of Flax Egg equals 1 egg. You can keep the mixture in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To use it properly in recipes, it is preferable to mix it first in the liquid before adding the solid ingredients.

 

Grilled courgettes with flax seed

 

Ingredients: courgettes, flax seed, olive oil, lemon juice, salt
Cooking Instructions: wash the courgettes and slice them length-wise. Ground the flax seeds and sprinkle them on the zucchini before grilling. Grill the courgettes. Season with salt, oil and lemon juice to taste.

 

Flaxseed bread

 

Ingredients: 300 g white wheat flour, 100 g whole wheat flour, 50 g wheat bran, 50 g wheat germ, 25 g brewer's yeast, 1 tablespoon salt, flax seed, half a teaspoon of sugar
Cooking Instructions: soak flax seeds for 4 hours. Dissolve the yeast in 150 ml of warm water and add sugar. Put the flour in a bowl with the salt at the edges and form a well. Mix everything together adding some of the water with the yeast. Continue to mix with more water until you get a smooth and elastic dough. At this point, add the flax seeds, which, in the meantime, will have released the mucilage, and knead them into the dough until they are completely blended. Form a ball with the dough, put it in a pan and cover it with a damp cloth, let it sit in a warm place for an hour until you notice that it has doubled in size. Knead the dough again into the form of a loaf, place it on a tray lined with baking paper and let it double in size again. Bake in preheated oven at 200 degrees for 35 minutes.

 

Savory muffins with flaxseed

 

Ingredients (Serves about 9 muffins): 300 g white wheat flour, 50 g whole wheat flour, a pinch of salt, 30 ml extra virgin olive oil, 40 g butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, milk to taste, flax seeds, 1 pinch of ginger
Cooking Instructions: in a bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, flax seed, baking powder. Gradually add the oil, melted butter and milk. When your mixture is smooth transfer it into the muffin molds and sprinkle it with a pinch of ginger and some flax seeds. Bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Flax seed encrusted swordfish steaks

 

Ingredients (makes 2 servings): 2 slices of swordfish, flaxseed, olive oil, salt and pepper, 50 g dried tomatoes, 50 g olives
Cooking Instructions: wash the swordfish steaks, cut them into medium-large sized pieces. Brush them with olive oil and coat them thoroughly with flaxseed. Cook the fish in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil, browning them on both sides. Add salt and pepper to taste. In the meantime, blend the dried tomatoes and olives into a creamy pâté. Place the fish on the plates and garnish them with the pâté.