I recently made and enjoyed some of your chia seed recipes. For quite a while I have been using another healthy ingredient in my morning oatmeal–flax meal. I was wondering, could you share some new recipes using this very nutritious food?
The reader who issued this recent request was absolutely right in mentioning the nutritional value of flax meal—the ground version of flax seeds. For something so tiny, those seeds lay claim to some big benefits. Flax is an excellent plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants called lignans. It’s rich in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, and fiber. These are just some of the reasons why flax consumption is linked with reducing inflammation, improving heart and digestive health, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and fending off some forms of cancer.
To reap the reported health benefits, a daily “dose” of two tablespoons of flax meal is recommended. I often stir that amount into a cup of yogurt. With a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, it makes a quick and filling breakfast or lunch.
For a satisfying option that’s almost as speedy, the following muffin recipe is a favorite. The recipe is unique in its use of flax meal instead of flour, and with its novel method of preparation manages to make healthy eating rather fun, too.
One more important detail about flax: Eaten in seed form, flax delivers fiber but the hard outer shell prohibits absorption of the nutrients that lie within. To reap the full benefit of this super food, it should be consumed in its ground form. Both options are widely available—usually in the bulk and/or natural and organic aisle of the grocery store. For a longer shelf life and optimum freshness, buy the seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder. For convenience, seek out pre-ground flax meal.
Because this recipe uses an unusual approach to muffin making–microwaving them—I recruited many testers before sharing this recipe. My concern was that varying wattages would create inconsistencies, with some muffins akin to hockey pucks and others undercooked at the specified cooking time. Beyond that, the weirdness of this recipe didn’t escape me!
The feedback was uniformly excellent, and my testers enjoyed using the basic recipe as a framework that could be customized according to personal preference and tweaked over time. Without a doubt, I have made this muffin scores of different ways and only recently settled into my two favorite versions—one incorporating the optional almond butter, the other with mashed banana stirred in…both with a tablespoon each of nuts, raisins, and shredded coconut.
Yields 1 muffin.
- 1/4 cup (25 grams) golden flaxseed meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon honey (or sweetener of choice; see notes)
- 1 teaspoon oil (use what you prefer—I particularly enjoy melted coconut oil or a fruity olive oil)
- 1/16 teaspoon (a pinch) kosher or sea salt
- Optional add-ins: 2 tablespoons fruit puree*; 1 tablespoon nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and/or shredded coconut; 1 tablespoon almond or peanut butter instead of the 1 teaspoon oil*; savory additions like cheese, dill, etc. (see notes)
Mix all of ingredients in a coffee mug—there is no need to grease it. (A smaller mug works better than a jumbo one, but any will work. When using a mug with a wide diameter, the muffin will be flatter and the cooking time will be slightly less.) Make sure all of the ingredients are well combined, and then wipe the edges of the mug with a small piece of paper towel.
Microwave for one minute on high. (The time may vary based on microwave and mug size. If you have an older microwave, it may take longer. After making the first one you will figure it out. You just don’t want to overcook the muffin, as it will dry out. As a test, I undercooked a muffin by 15 seconds and then popped it out of the mug to find it slightly uncooked in the center. I immediately returned it the mug, cooked for 15 seconds more, and the texture was fine. You may wish to try this method the first time.) The muffin will easily pop out of the mug with a gentle pry of a knife. It will be moist from the steam at first but will quickly dry as it cools. I like to cut the warm muffin in half and spread with a little butter.
- *I now almost always make these muffins with 3-4 tablespoons mashed, overripe banana and almond butter for the extra moisture and flavor, and I have reduced the honey (or maple syrup) by half. I also love the raisins and coconut for the added sweetness. Feel free to use this recipe as a framework and tailor it to suit your needs. If you prefer a savory muffin, omit the sweetener or reduce it to one teaspoon. If you’d like the muffin to be sweeter, increase the sweetener or add raisins, chocolate chips, etc. For those who cannot consume sugar or other natural sweeteners but desire some sweetness, you may wish to try 1/4 teaspoon of stevia, adjusting to personal preference.
- It doesn’t matter if you add the wet or the dry ingredients to the mug first. Just make sure to stir well to fully incorporate all of the ingredients, especially the egg. I often mix the ingredients the night before, cover the mug with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until morning. In this case, I add 5 seconds to the cooking time. (Also, adding mashed banana or other fruit will lengthen the cook time by 15-30 seconds, give or take.) Everyone in my family is happy to have one for breakfast, so I often make four at a time–assembly line-style. For another timesaver, you can measure the dry ingredients into several small jars or containers. That way, all you have to do is stir in a few wet ingredients for a speedy muffin whenever desired.
- The fruit puree is excellent for adding moisture as well as natural sweetness and flavor to these muffins. My favorite is mashed, very ripe banana, although pumpkin puree and apple butter are very good options. For easy access to a small amount of banana, simply peel and freeze overripe bananas. When needed, break off a small piece and thaw at room temperature or microwave in 15-second increments or until the banana can be mashed with a fork.
I am delighted to share this recipe as an ambassador for Bob’s Red Mill. Their Golden Flaxseed Meal is freshly milled to preserve the natural oils and nutrients.
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