Make friends with flax and save

flaxWe're past the New Year surge of ambition, and settling into what some might call the "spring slump" -- that time after the holidays and Valentine's Day where people start to become a bit more lax on their resolutions, especially the ones pertaining to health.

Luckily, I've recently picked up a habit that makes the whole "eat healthier" resolution a lot easier to keep. Flax seed seems to be one of the latest trends in the health food industry, and I have become one of its latest devotees.

Flax seed comes from the flax (or linseed) plant. Most of these plants are grown in the Midwest, especially in North Dakota, and can also be used to make linens and clothing.

Flax can be consumed in three ways: as a supplement, as oil, or you can eat the seed itself. Ground flaxseed is everywhere lately, so you should be able to find it in most stores. It even comes in flavors (blueberry is pretty tasty), making it an inexpensive and easy add-in to your every day diet.
Why add flax to your diet? Flax seed helps you achieve good health when your body breaks down the alpha-linolenic acids, which provides you with two essential omega 3 acids. Omega 3's help your heart by decreasing inflammation and thinning your blood so that it easily moves throughout your body. The Omega 3's in flax seed can even help reduce cholesterol and prevent depression. Scientists are also saying that Flax Seed can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Plus, it packs a huge punch of fiber, which helps you lose weight.

My love affair with flax started for two reasons: I was cheap, and I was tired of the fishy taste leftover from the Fish Oil supplements I was taking. I first tried flaxseed oil supplements to get my Omega 3's simply because they were a less expensive than the fishy fish oil I had been taking -- the taste was just an added bonus.

After reading an article on flaxseed, I started researching ways to add more of this wonder seed to my diet. I discovered using flax seed in your daily routine saves money over pricey oil supplements, and adds a nutty taste and a boost of fiber to your favorite treats. Save even more money by buying whole flax seed and grinding your own in a food processor.

Don't get caught up in the higher-priced pre-packaged flax-enhanced foods, though. Keep it cheap and easy by enhancing your own recipes instead. Try out some of the easiest ways I've found to work flax into a daily diet:
  • Sprinkle ground flax seed on your favorite breakfast cereal or oatmeal.
  • Mix ground flax seed into mustard to create a gourmet spread for sandwiches.
  • Add a heaping spoonful of ground flax seed to pancake or muffin batter.
  • Add a spoonful to your favorite cookie dough to up the fiber content.
  • Blend with ice and your favorite fruit to make a yummy smoothie.
  • Add to lean ground beef, chicken or turkey when you make meatballs or turkey or hamburger patties.

Jennifer Horn is a co-host on the nationally syndicated Good Day radio program heard on more than 300 stations across the country in morning drive. She hosts a weekly food newsletter with fellow Good Day personality Chef Louie DeAngelis. An accomplished sommelier, Jennifer also co-authors a weekly Food & Wine Newsletter and is a contributor on the nationally syndicated What's Cookin' Show on CRN Digital Talk Radio. Follow Jen on Twitter here.
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