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Contributing Editor Colleen Welch

It seems every coffee shop and juice stand is now offering to add flaxseed to your favorite smoothie. Increasingly, bakeries are offering ground flax seeds in hearty breads and pastries. Just why is this tiny seed so popular?
Aside from adding a hint of nut to your favorite foods, the benefits of flax are:

• Lowering cholesterol, especially LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, due to flax seed’s high Omega 3 fatty acid content.
• Lowering blood pressure.
• Preventing heart attacks. Flax seed prevents platelets from becoming “sticky.”
• One study found flaxseed may boost the effectiveness of treatment for breast cancer.
• Researchers are also studying whether flaxseed prevents diabetes, menopause, osteoporosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and macular degeneration.
• The fiber in flaxseed helps maintain a healthy digestive tract, and prevents constipation.
• The fatty oil in flaxseed helps keep eyes well lubricated.
So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up a pack of ground flax seed. Begin sprinkling it on foods and adding it to your favorite baked goods, and you’ll enjoy a boost to your health.
Here’s a recipe for flaxseed banana bread, adopted from The Joy Of Cooking.
Quick Banana Bread

Have all ingredients at room temperature before you begin.
Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together:
1 ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground flaxseed
2 ¼ teaspoons double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Separately, blend until creamy:
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar (or substitute with a healthier sweetener such as stevia or Splenda.)
¾ teaspoon grated lemon rinds
Beat in to the wet mixture:
1 to 2 beaten eggs
1 to 1 ¼ cup ripe banana pulp.
Add the sifted ingredients in about 3 parts to the sugar mixture. Beat the batter after each addition until smooth.
Fold in:
(optional) ½ cup broken nutmeats (I suggest candied pecans.)
(optional) ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
Place the batter in a greased bread pan. If you used candied pecans, make a pattern with whole nuts on top. Bake the bread about 1 hour or until done. Cool before slicing.

 

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