Now that Paleo diets and Crossfit workouts are all the rage and soccer moms are packing kale chips in their kids' lunchboxes, it seems timely (or a bit late) to post a quick easy cracker alternative. Flaxseed is a darling of the natural health circles and is yet another "health food" gone fashionable with the general public. As a no net carb low carb seed packed with Omega 3 fatty acids and lignan fibers, it is easy to see why flaxseed is a popular ingredient.
While there is controversy always raging in the Paleolithic community about exactly which food is paleo or primal, flax is considered a paleo hunter-gatherer diet friendly food and flour substitute. While I love flax mostly for the beautiful blooms of the plant in my wildflower hedges, eating the seeds formed into crackers is enjoyable as well. Soaking these innocent looking brown and gold babies allows them to sprout making the lignans and nutrients more bioavailable and enzymatically alive. Rinsing the sprouted seeds before making the crackers removes much of the antinutrients like phytic acid found in nuts, seeds, and legumes. Flaxseed makes a delicious versatile cracker spiced to your preference and convenient for travel and as a low carb "bread" or cracker replacement. As always, consume in balance with healthy low glycemic foods and with plenty of water for the optimal benefit!
2 cups organic (gluten free) flaxseed
about 2 cups filtered water
generous 1 T. raw pink Himalayan sea salt (used only salt not typical tamari or Bragg's liquid amino and salt blend)
spices to taste: for the curry blend I used about
- 2 T crushed red pepper
- gluten free curry blend- I like the Madras style spicy curry turmeric 1 tsp
- dried oregano
First measure out and sort your flaxseed. Add the filtered water (I use reverse osmosis water if that matters) and cover. Let sit at least overnight until the seeds have sprouted.
The sprouting process will make the seed enzymatically active and more bioavailable and thus more easily digested. The soaked mixture will be a gelatin like sticky goo. To remove at least some phytic acid, rinse thoroughly with filtered water. Just do your best, there are no hard and fast rules here. The final rinsed mix should be gooey but not runny.
Spread the flax on the sheets about 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick. You want the final product to be hearty enough to hold up to guacamole dip or shredded chicken, say, but thin enough to dry evenly.
You can also use a cookie pan and your oven. If using an oven, dry around 100 to 125 degrees for about 6 hours. I dry my chips in the dehydrator overnight until they break apart easily and are crispy.
In the past few years flaxseed has gotten some bad press about its phytoestrogens and link with prostate cancer. Is flax some insidious estrogenic food for men (or women for that matter who suffer from estrogen dominance and many hormone imbalance issues, especially after menopause)? The Mayo clinic gives a short Q&A about this, but suffice to say that eating flax crackers in a balanced diet is not going to pump your body full of evil cancer-promoting cooties. Taking high doses of flax oil for its ALA vegetarian omega 3 benefits, as once recommended, is probably not the best approach however since the oil is much more concentrated in phytoestrogens and lignans than the edible quantity of seeds. I don't think Grok had access to high doses of isolated flax oil... somehow I doubt that Grok would drool at the sight of beautiful flax wildflower blooms as he might with a buffalo. Besides, omega 3 fatty acids are best consumed as part of a whole food and from animal sources (read: eat fatty wild fish). Lastly, there is evidence that the lignans in flax actually bind to estrogen in the digestive track. For an interesting discussion on phytic acid and other antinutrient concerns in nuts and seeds, check out Mark's Daily apple. I emphasize the importance of balance here as to not become overwhelmed by the micronutrient aspect of your food (didn't your mother tell you not to play with your food?!?). Flax is healthy and fine in moderation- you wouldn't stop eating broccoli because of its phytoestrogen nuances would you? Crunch on a darn flax cracker rather than a gluten carb rancid omega 6 oil GMO loaded chip, that's all I'm saying. That and more importantly address your stress and lifestyle (exercise, sleep, diet, social support structure, higher power, etc) in a holistic manner, not just your food.
On the lighter side, flax reduces inflammation, supports cardiovascular health, helps lower cholesterol, and reduces metabolic syndrome. (Again, whether low cholesterol is actually beneficial to health is debatable and research shows that higher cholesterol in post menopausal women increases longevity).
Flax ranks higher than blueberries and spinach in antioxidants and new investigation shows the delicate ALA omega 3 fats are not damaged by baking with flaxseed (and certainly not damaged by low temperature dehydration like here).
The fiber in flax stabilizes blood sugar levels making flaxseed based crackers, muffins and breads better choices for those with metabolic syndrome or on a low carb diet. (Ground flax, hemp powder, and coconut flours make a wonderful hearty low carb high fiber gluten free and vegan "flour" blend. I make variations of these baked goods and my digestion loves me for it!). Flaxseed is high in manganese, magnesium, vitamin B1, and tryptophan to name a few nutrients. Soaking and sprouting the seeds makes the crackers' enzymes and nutrients more bioavailable while the low temperature drying of the cracker makes it a raw food. Of course the most touted glory of flaxseed is that it is practically all fiber so any food made of flax will be "no net carbs" which is what makes flax based muffins and bread popular in the low carb community.
The longwinded micronutrient aspects of flaxseed aside, these babies are high fiber no net carbs spicy goodness and make great crackers for my hen's free range eggs from the backyard which I softboil and serve over steamed veggies and greens. Get creative with your own spice blend- I have made these in various ways but always love a crunchy spicy treat!