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A bit about flaxseed…

I’ve written previously about the nutrient packed superfood chia seeds. Flaxseed is kind of like its older, now comparatively less hip cousin but I feel should be held in no less regard considering it is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s. Besides its high concentration of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory functions, it is high in protein and fibre and contains a whole host of vitamins and minerals.

I suppose the reason why I (and others I’m sure) tend to think of chia and flax interchangeably is because the effects are notably similar!

Who put the goo in my flax?

Both tend to become mucilaginous when mixed with water, a result of water-soluble fiber that regulates the rate of stomach contents emptying into the small intestine and therefore improves nutrient uptake. This mucilaginous property also seems to stimulate the bowels as many (myself included) have observed consuming either helps one go to the loo soon after.

From a practical point of view, this nutritious mucilage has conveniently been utilised for its binding properties in vegan baked goods in replacement of eggs. Known as flax eggs, they are simply prepared by combining 1 part of ground flax with 3 parts liquid. How heartening to know that veganising something actually adds nutrient value to the resulting outcome!


Flax and Chia ‘Eggs’ – A boon to vegan baking!

While both can be used to create vegan ”eggs” in baked recipes, note that flax needs to be ground first in order to render it digestible while chia seeds do not need such preparation. Maybe that’s why chia seems more popular now – it’s less of a hassle to use. Plus chia seeds have a comparatively neutral taste compared to flaxseed’s grassy taste. I really don’t mind either of them.

Having said that, both have their unique combination of beneficial nutrients and it makes sense to vary their use in our daily foods.

When I’m caught somewhere in the morning too late for just a simple serving of fruit and need something more substantial and filling, yet still digestible than a proper meal, I turn to healthy milkshakes sweetened with fruit and dates.

Banana Cardamom Shake with Flax or Chia

BananaCardFlaxBanana and cardamom know one another very well, in fact they shake hands without requiring much effort to manipulate their flavors. Realising that the aroma of spices take on a roasty, warm, sweet flavor after roasting, I decided to do this to cardamom, a spice whose aroma upon roasting transports me to far off exotic lands just by smell alone.

People assume that taking a whole foods approach means more time-consuming prep work but really, who are you to complain when the blender does 80% of the work? Here’s what this shake consists of:

1. Grind flax and cardamom seeds 2. Add non-dairy milk, date, banana 3. Blend 4. Pour into glass and enjoy *slurp* with straw or a spoon.

Voila. Now no more complaints and procrastination please.

Ingredients you need:

for 1 serving (makes a small glass with thick consistency)

  • 1 med banana
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy, but you can use rice or nut milk as you please)
  • 1 date (not Medjool sized)
  • 2 tsp flaxseed or chia seeds
  • 1 green cardamom pod (roasted if preferred), seeds removed from the husk

If using flaxseed, grind with cardamom seeds first. Then add everything into the blender and blend until uniform consistency. If more sweetness is desired, add more dates to blend. If a less thick consistency is desired, add more non-dairy milk, water or even ice if you prefer cold (not recommended for Vatas though!)

If using chia seeds, mix with some water/non-dairy milk in a glass, stirring till well combined and let sit for a while to absorb the water. Grind cardamom then combine with rest of the ingredients (except chia) and blend well. Pour into the glass, stirring well to incorporate the chia goo.

Chocolate – add cocoa powder or cacao nibs and additional dates for sweetness
Banana Coconut – add coconut flakes to blend or replace some of the non-dairy milk with coconut milk
Banana Shake with Soaked Oats — soak 1/4 cup oats overnight, make above recipe adding more non-dairy milk/water to get a runny consistency. Add more dates to sweeten if preferred.

Also substitute the cardamom for other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger, or omit entirely. The sky’s the limit! Have fun and cheers!