Pretty flowers, Powerful Seeds

When conventional bakers contemplate baking vegan, the ingredient they find hardest to do without is the eggs. You can use other fats instead of butter, and there are vegan sugars that will do most of the tricks that white sugar does. But eggs, well, you don’t see vegan angelfood cake for a reason.

I’ve baked my share of vegan treats, and have found that one of the most natural and healthy ways to bake without eggs is flax seed. In the 20 plus years that I have been putting eggless treats into ovens, there have not been any technological innovations to replace the venerable flax seed. Powdered egg replacers are ok for some things, but flax is so whole and natural, why not stick with it?

To work your egg replacing magic, whole flax seeds just need to be ground to a fine powder and mixed with water will form a gluey paste. The classic substitution is 1 tablespoon of ground flax mixed with 1/4 cup water to replace one egg. The flax must be ground, since the hulls of the tiny seeds are very sturdy, and can’t be broken by chewing or in your digestive tract. Grinding the seed causes the contents of the miracle seed to open up and create a gel-like substance when wet. What is so unique about it is the way it works in the oven. The thick gel actually traps and holds the gases created by leavening, allowing baked goods to rise and hold their crumb.

Golden Flax in the Grinder

The perfect symmetry of it all is that flax seeds also pack a concentrated dose of nutrition, including the Omega 3’s that vegans need to seek out in plant form. Thanks to Mother Nature, flax is a great source of ALA that is converted in the body to the EPA that everybody is seeking out in fish oil.

For your information, 2 Tbs flax has 146 % of the Omega 3’s, 30 % of Manganese, 20% of the fiber, 18% of the magnesium, 15% of the folate, 12% of the copper and 10% of the phosphorus you need per day.

That Omega 3 is important for vegans, who don’t get any fish, so that they can reap the health benefits of this essential fat. Omega 3 is used by the body to make anti-inflammatory prostglandins, which help balance out the inflammatory effects of many other fats. Studies show that the omegas help prevent bone breakdown. O 3’s produce flexible cell membranes, which are associated with better processing of glucose and insulin. O3’s also protect the colon from cancer.

In studies done with flax, its been shown to  prevent and control high blood pressure, lower risk of stroke, and lower cholesterol in a way that is comparable to statin drugs. One of the super components of flax are the lignans, which convert to estrogen like compounds in the gut that protect breast health, and have been shown to reduce hot flashes by 60%

So, to get started baking with flax, start with a simple cookie or muffin. A recipe that has just one or two eggs will be easiest to experiment with. Or try this link: