Flax meal is finely ground whole flaxseed that has a mild nutty flavor. It is often added to homemade baked goods for healthier cooking and added nutrition. Flax is one of the oldest domesticated crops and was originally grown for fiber. Most flax crops are now grown for the seed, which is high in fiber and beneficial oils. Cooking with whole flax seed or flax meal has grown in popularity in the early 21st century.
Flax meal is high in fiber, lignans and omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, and is a whole grain food low in fat and cholesterol. The fiber content in 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) of flax meal — 4 grams of fiber — is equivalent to that in 1.5 cups (375 ml) of cooked oatmeal. Lignans are natural antioxidants found in many plant foods; however, flaxseed is shown to have 75 times more lignans than any other plant source. Alpha-linolenic acid is a plant-based omega-3 that makes up 50 percent of the oil found in flaxseed. One serving of flax meal also contains 3 grams of protein and is free of cholesterol, sugars and sodium.
People interested in healthy cooking will find a wide variety of uses for flaxseed meal. Whole seeds also can be used; however, the ground seeds provide a nuttier flavor without changing a dish's texture. Flax meal can be added to baked goods such as breads, cookies, pie crusts, cakes, muffins, biscuits and scones. It also can be added to pancake or waffle batter, oatmeal and hot cereals, casseroles, soups and stews or sprinkled on other dishes.
The oil content in flax seeds means the meal is often used by people with egg allergies as an egg replacement in many recipes. Just 1 Tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 Tablespoons water and allowed to thicken for a couple minutes makes the equivalent of one egg. The egg substitute can be used in many batter recipes, such as pancake batter and muffin mixes that call for eggs.
Ground flaxseed meal is available in most health food stores and other locations that sell natural or whole foods. If ground meal is unavailable, whole flaxseeds can be purchased and ground at home using a coffee grinder or other small grain grinder. Ground meal should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness and preserve the natural oils. Cold storage is also necessary to help prevent the flax oil from becoming rancid and bitter.