Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Things I Do With My Spice Grinder: Flax, Nut, and Seed Powder Topping
Raw Flaxseed is one of nature's super foods. And it has been a part of human and animal diets for thousands of years in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Why is Flax so good for you?
Flaxseed is very high in omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is the omega 3s -- "good" fats -- that seem to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, lower the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancers, and reduce the inflammation of arthritis, as well as the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses such as asthma. One of my patients recently told me that his dermatologist even recommended it to him for treatment of his rosacea!
In addition to the omega-3s, the remaining two components of flaxseed -- lignans and fiber -- are being studied for their health benefits as well.
Lignans, for example, act as both phyto-estrogens and antioxidants, while the fiber contained in the flax seed is of both the soluble and insoluble type. I read somewhere recently that men are better off eating the seed itself, rather than just the oil. I don't know if that is accurate, but here is a way I like using flax.
To make this you need a simple electric coffee grinder, an inexpensive one will do, to grind the flax seeds into a fine powder. I start with whole flax seed because the pre-ground flax in the store is not ground fine, but more importantly, as soon as you grind a seed into powder you have broken the protective covering and the oils start to oxidize, so fresh ground is "healthier."
Start with a high quality organic flax seed, like Spectrum Naturals. Better quality flax tastes better and is fresher. Oils go bad with time. All seeds and nuts are full of oil. So start with fresh quality seeds, go organic, and leave the pesticide residue and rancid oil behind.
2 tablespoons rawflax seed
2 tablespoons raw almonds or pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons unhulled sesame seeds, brown or black
Put the seeds and nuts in the grinder. Grind for a minute or two until everything is ground to a fine enought powder for you taste.
How to Use
Flax by itself is buttery, but also a little bitter. It is a bit strong. But ground with nuts and seeds, and what you have is a delicious buttery, nutty topping for cereal, yogurt, salad, rice, pasta, fish, chicken, that is full of healthy oils, fiber, and some protein, too. Try it with other nuts and seeds, too, like walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds.
My favorite is to take some Pavel's or Lifeway Yogurt or Kefir, and add a tablespoon of this, with some natural sweetener, like Date or Carob syrup (Arab or Iranian Market), or Apricot Preserves. Its so delicious. I think kids would like this too. You could put it on toast with instead of butter and jam.
If your kids like peanut butter and jelly, (which i dont recommend:peanuts are a bean and need to be boiled to be digestible, i will address this in another post)
you could mix tahini or almond butter, jam, and some of this powder and use it instead.
People with weaker digestion, or with Vata or Kapha imbalance can lightly toast the almonds and sesame (but NOT the flax) in a heavy pan or wok. Be careful not to burn them.
You could add a touch of sea salt, too, like a Japanese Gomasio. You can make spicy versions of this with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cumin (roast the cumin and pepper first), for example. Or just use the Ayush Kapha or Pitta churna that I sell. Roast the nuts, turn off the flame, and toss the churna on so it gets a little heated. You can even use a little bit of sesame oil, and heat it on very low for a minute or two, stirring the whole while. Put it on your popcorn!
Happy Kitchen Medicine!
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego