Flax seed is rich in good oils and fiber, yet its oil is highly susceptible to spoilage with exposure to light, heat and air. The oils are protected for as long as the seed is intact, however, we get very little benefit from the seed if we eat it whole. It’s important, therefore, to grind flax before using it. You can grind it in a coffee grinder or a blender, just be careful to not overgrind it as this would overheat the oils. You’ll notice that the smell will change if you’ve overheated or overground the flax. I shake the coffee grinder while grinding flax and make sure it keeps circulating in the blender in order to minimize the chances of this happening. I’m too lazy to grind fresh flax for each recipe, so I keep a glass pint or quart jar of preground flax in the freezer. This protects the oils so the ground flax keeps for a longer amount of time. I also make sure my flax is finely ground so it isn’t noticeable in the finished baked goods.
Ground flax can be sprinkled on many different dishes. I often add it to my childrens’ hot or cold cereal and sprinkle it on top of a fruit smoothie or salad. It can also be used as a supplement- just mix about 2 Tbsp. with 8 oz. water, followed by another 8 oz. glass of water. This is a great way to benefit from the oils and fiber of ground flax.
On this blog I frequently list ground flax as an ingredient to be mixed with the wet ingredients. Here it basically serves as an egg substitute or binder for baking with gluten-free grains. If you want to experiment with substituting ground flax for egg in a recipe, you can mix 1 Tbsp. of ground flax with with 2-3 Tbsp. water as the replacement for one egg.