Sunday, January 5, 2014

Flaxseeds and Paleo Gluten-free Scones




For those of us on a Paleo diet, especially those eating low carb for weight loss, flaxseeds are a nutritional powerhouse.  Not only are they full of fibre which really keeps hunger at bay, they also have many other benefits. (Image from healthvigil.blogspot.ca)

These seeds from the plants with the pretty blue flowers, are high in most B vitamins, magnesium and manganese. They are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, a key force in fighting inflammation.  The high fibre helps stabilize blood sugar and promotes proper functioning of the intestines.

 image from aliexpress.com

Flaxseeds benefit everyone, but they have been shown to be of special benefit to women.  They are a great source of lignans which convert in our intestines to substances that help balance female hormones.  Studies have shown lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly prevent breast cancer.

There are a few concerns, and one is the high fiber content.  This is one of the benefits, but if you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber, you need to start slowly with only 1 or 2 tablespoons a day.  If you have irritable bowel syndrome you should check with your doctor before adding a lot of this to your diet.  Also, make sure you drink lots of water, otherwise you could suffer from cramping and constipation.

There have also been some recent studies linking large amounts of flaxseed consumption to a potential prostate cancer link. (see this post by Mark Sisson.)  This obviously doesn't apply to women, and Mark Sisson's view is that "healthy women can consume low to moderate amounts of flax without concern. ".  Men on the other hand - especially older men - need to be more careful, and Mark suggests that you take it easy on the flaxseed and stick to fish oil for your omega 3s.


How to store Flaxseeds and make your own Flaxseed meal

Flaxseeds need to be stored in a cool dark place, which is why I recommend you keep them in your fridge or freezer.  Whole flaxseeds will keep up to a year.  Ground flaxseed meal will keep for a month or two.  Flaxseeds should taste nutty.  If they ever taste bitter you need to throw them out. 

In order to guarantee freshness, many people choose to grind their own flaxseed meal, and this is easily done in a food processor or coffee grinder.  Wikihow.com (photo above) gives you a 7 step method, and here is a video that shows you how to grind flaxseed in a cheap coffee grinder :


How to use Flaxseeds

If you have seen flaxseeds as part of a recipe and felt a bit uncertain, join the club.  I have been cooking Paleo for several years now, and even though I know they are health, flaxseeds just didn't really do anything for me.

But after reading Dr. Davis Wheatbelly Cookbook and his newest 30 minute Wheatbelly Cookbook that has all changed.  He recommends that you use golden flax seed meal in your recipes instead of the dark ones, and now that I have tried them I can totally see why.


They make all baked goods look a lot more like the wheat versions that we are used to, with a lovely golden crust.  The meal also seems to have more of the texture of regular flour, and works better in recipes.  Dr. Davis uses golden flaxseed meal a lot, and all of the recipes of his that I have tried have been delicious.  His flaxseed wrap and flaxseed tortilla recipes are now staples that I wouldn't want to do without.


ORANGE CURRANT SCONES

These scones, based on the ones in Dr Davis' book, are a great example of how you can use flaxseed meal.  I ate orange currant scones continually for breakfast before I started eating Paleo, so I am thrilled to now have a Paleo version.  Check the Wheatbelly Cookbook for the Cranberry Cinnamon scone and the Ginger Apricot scone recipes.  These are truly amazing.

Ingredients :
  • 1 cup of ground golden flaxseeds
  • 3/4 cup of almond meal (bleached or natural)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite sweetener (coconut sugar, xylitol etc.)
  • 5 tablespoons of cold butter
  • juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)
  • zest of one orange ( see here for how to zest fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of currants
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions :
  • Preheat the oven to 350'F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flaxseeds, almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and sweetener.
  • Using a pastry blender or a couple of knives (see video below) cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
  • Add the currents and mix to make sure they are evenly distributed.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs with the orange juice and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.  You should end up with a sticky dough.
  • With wet hands, divide the dough into 8, then form each the way you would a hamburger.  Put them on the parchment lined baking sheet.  
  • Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for at least 5 minutes before handling because they do crumble easily when fresh.
If you want, you can also reserve some of the beaten egg to brush the finished scones and then sprinkle them with a bit of coconut sugar or xylitol before baking.

Also, if you make sure you flatten them to about half an inch in height, you can then easily toast them when you want them.  Again, give them a minute or two to cool before removing from the toaster.


How to Cut in Butter into Flour

Cutting butter into flour is what gives you that great flaky pastry.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this technique, here is a video :


Try these with a mug of coffee for breakfast.

These scones might not look like much by themselves, but I'm sure once you taste them you will be amazed at how flaky, delicious, and similar in taste to the wheat-filled original they are.


 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw





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