The nutritional benefits of flax seeds make for a good cooking substitute ingredient. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3, dietary fiber and lignans, while low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Omega-3 and dietary fiber are shown to help lower cholesterol, while maintaining digestive health. Due to the various health benefits and properties, flax seeds have been gaining popularity as a food substitute. The following lists the different ways to incorporate flax seeds into your diet as a food substitute.
1. Egg Substitute
For those who have egg allergies, making baked goods can be a real challenge, considering egg is universally used with baking recipes. Commercial egg substitutes are hard to find and quite expensive. Flax seeds are quite economical and easy to find in most health and food stores. Flax seeds must be grounded or milled to be used as an egg substitute. You can purchase milled flax seeds, or you can use a blender or a coffee grinder to ground the seeds. Once the seeds have been grounded, water needs to added and mixed together. Basically, 1 tbsp. of grounded flax seeds with 3 tbsp. of hot water equals 1 egg. Once the flax seed preparation has been well mixed, add the egg substitute to your recipe.
2. Flour Substitute
While flax seeds cannot entirely replace flour, flax seed can be used to reduce the flour content in baked goods. Most people use white flour to bake goods, without giving too much thought about flour’s poor nutritional content. Except for the four enriched vitamins and minerals that White flour contains, the flour is a processed ingredient with little to no nutritional value. To substitute flax seed for flour, use about 1 tbsp. of grounded flax seeds with 4 tbsp. of water or another liquid. The mixture will only replace about ¼ cup of flour content. For example, if your recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, you will use 2 ¾ cups of flour with ¼ cup of flax seed mix.
3. Wheat Germ Substitute
Wheat germ is often found in breads and cereals. Some recipes may even call for the ingredient or a flour substitute. However, if you are gluten intolerant, the use of wheat germ may cause serious health related issues. Using flax seeds as a wheat germ substitute will definitely give your foods a chewier texture.
4. Fat Substitute
Depending on the recipe, flax seeds can for substitute margarine, butter or cooking oil. The aforementioned fats are not the healthiest cooking fats. Butter contains 117 g of saturated fat and 488 mg of cholesterol versus 20.5 g of saturated fat and 0 mg for flax seed in oil form. The fastest and easiest way to substitute fat is to purchase flax seed in oil form. However, if you already have a pressing machine you can extract and filter the oil from the seeds yourself. When using flax seed as a oil substitute, use flax seed oil as a 3 to 1 substitution ratio, which means using 1 cup of flax seed oil to replace 1/3 cup of regular oil. Flax seed oil has a similar taste to regular butter.