Welcome Back Flax

September 5th, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Healthy Habits

Do you remember when flax seed was suddenly the new and hip seed to eat? Flax seems like old news to most of us now, and it’s a kitchen staple among many health conscious foodies.

But for me, this seed has been nothing but a giant pain in the flax.

It seems well known that it’s important to eat ground flax seed. Their little hulls are so hard, if you eat them whole they’ll pass right through your body undigested and you miss out on their rich supply of essential fatty acids, Omega-3 in particular.

I used to buy and eat ground flax seed all the time. But then I learned that packaged flax meal is supposedly what’s left after the seeds have been stripped of their oils. Other sources say that when the seeds are ground, the oil is exposed and then highly susceptible to oxidative damage.  Either way, some say that you risk missing out on all that Omega-3 with packaged ground flax meal.


It starts to feel more confusing and complicated when the packaging of most ground flax seeds claim to be “high in omega-3”. But in Eating Well for Optimal Health, Dr. Andrew Weil says that eating pre-packaged ground flax meal defeats the purpose of eating flax in the first place. He suggests buying whole flax seeds and grinding them yourself.

So call me crazy, but I decided to trust the nutrition experts instead of the flax meal marketing execs on this one. While I wouldn’t say it’s “pointless” to eat packaged flax meal – it’s still a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber either way – personally, I want to be sure I’m getting those Omega-3’s found in the flax oil.

Many people recommend grinding your flax seeds in a coffee grinder. Sounds easy enough – but I don’t have a coffee grinder. I grind my coffee at the store and am in no mood to drop $20 just to grind stupid flax seeds. I tried using the food processor but it took For-EVER. As in, start it up and go take a nap – it’s going to be a while.

Well forget it. Who can sleep with the food processor running anyway. I’d rather just be annoyed with flax seed and give up on it all together. Screw you Flax Seed! I’ll get my omega-3’s someplace else.

Real mature, eh?

In short, I haven’t had flax in my kitchen for a while now.  But then while re-reading Thrive in preparation for last minute marathon training, I was reminded why flax is so good for us.  It really is one of the best sources of omega-3 in a plant based diet. It’s high in potassium, is a complete protein, has all the essential amino acids. Flax seed can help the body more efficiently burn fat as fuel – something that is especially important for endurance athletes.

So with both Brendan Brazier and Andrew Weil ganging up on me, I was convinced to reconcile with flax seed. We made up and I bit the bullet and finally bought a coffee grinder.

Grinding Your Own Flaxseeds

At laaaaast – my looooove has come along. My flax free days… are over.

Ready to Grind Flax Seed in Coffee Grinder

(isn’t that how the song goes?)

This took less than 10 SECONDS people!  I’m impressed!  And only a little creeped out by the giant brown flax eye staring back at me.

Ground Flaxseed Eye

But I’m going to overlook the creepy brown eye. Flax and I just made up after all.

Flax oil is delicate and oxidizes quickly, so it’s really important to protect it from both light and heat once it’s ground. Dr. Weil recommends storing your ground flax seed in an opaque, airtight container and keeping it in the fridge. Brendan agrees with this advice and also adds that when stored properly, ground flax will keep for 3 months.

Opaque Airtight Container for Storing Ground Flax Opaque Airtight Container for Storing Ground Flaxseed

Well if Andrew and Brendan say it’s true, then I believe it.

Store Ground Flax Seed in the Fridge

Welcome back to breakfast, Flax.

Ground Flax on Oatmeal

Sprinkled this morning over my current favorite cookie dough oats made with frozen banana, 1/3 c of oats and 2 Tbsp of hemp seeds and a spoonful of almond butter.

And welcome to the small appliance family, Coffee Grinder –

Coffee Grinder for Flax Seeds

I’m glad I finally sucked it up and got you here.

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38 Responses

  • You’ve convinced me to grind my own flax seed. I always buy the pre-ground stuff; I had no idea it was as nutritious. Thanks so much for this info.

  • Katheryn says:

    Thanks for the info on flax seed. I will definitely start grinding my own.

    Good luck with marathon training! In my opinion, the marathon is the best distance for racing.

  • Jennifer says:

    I need to get back on the flax bandwagon myself. :) I love how you can put it in most everything and not even know it’s there or just adds a nutty flavor.

  • i used to have a coffee grinder for my flax seeds then my husband took it to make…coffee. the mini prep doesn’t work well for it so i’ve been flax-less for a while

  • “Screw you Flax Seed!” — Haha! Awesome… only you can make that not seem mean. 😉

    I grind my flaxseed with a magic bullet… and I make a bit extra and store it in the fridge… but I didn’t know about the opaque container.. oops. I haven’t been using flaxseed much lately, but it sure comes in handy when you need a flax-egg while baking. 😀

  • Libby says:

    I’ve been grinding flax in a coffee grinder for ages (though it’s really a flax grinder because that is it’s sole job) but I never knew it could be stored in a dark container in the fridge. Thanks for the info.

  • Becky says:

    I just grind it in my blender, works fine :)

    I put it in EVERYTHING, truly is a great way to get some good fat and fibre into lots of stuff!

  • I never even thought to try the blender, I figured if the food processor took a long time, the blender would too!

    • Rabbitz says:

      It worked terribly in my blender. I tried grinding a tablespoon or two up first before adding the rest of my smoothie ingredients to the blender jug, and it just bounced them around. Only a few seeds were even broken after pulsing for a few minutes. Neither me, my neighbors, nor my blender’s motor can handle that! I’m currently looking into cheap coffee grinders because I really want to add flax to my daily diet.

      • I hope you try the coffee grinder, you won’t be disappointed!

        • Rabbitz says:

          I will definitely be picking up a coffee grinder. I actually happened upon this blog looking for info on the best ways to grind flaxseed, and just had to bookmark it. I’m a fellow reformed vegetarian and love your no-nonsense, hilarious approach to healthy, tasty food.

  • teae says:

    Becky, thank you SO much. The blender worked perfectly as opposed to the food processor that just spun them around.If you’re not married, do you wanna be ? lol

  • Tiffany says:

    Thanks for the tip! I was so irritated I bought flax seed vs ground flax seed so I tried grinding it and failed. Just put it in whole :( Now I know and knowing is half the battle :)

  • Layne says:

    I love your writing style.

  • Deb Furphy says:

    Magic Bullet Works GREAT!!!!! I Grind About Half the Bag of Seeds and Store It In Airtight Container in the Freezer, with a Tablespoon Measuring Spoon….Just So I Remember HOW Much to Use Each Time!!!! When You’re Running Around in The Morning, It’s the Last Thing I Want To Worry About or Forget!!!!!!! I Don’t Even Notice Any Flavor in My Cereal Or in My Juices/Green Smoothies!

  • Angela mason says:

    I hate to be a arty pooper but I read somewhere flax seeds must be ground exclusively with a Flax seed grinder. I would be thrilled if I am wrong and someone corrects me!

  • Caddie says:

    LOL!! Creepy flax eye 😀

  • Does your site have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to
    shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  • Becky says:

    Love your article and your sense of humor. I’m new to eating healthy and happy to learn I can convert my coffee grinder into a flaxseed grinder! I don’t make coffee, anyway! Thanks for sharing how to store. I have the perfect opaque Tupperware to store my grounded flax seeds. I like idea Deb Furphy had about storing with a tablespoon, too!
    To your health ~

    • Ayodele says:

      Thanks so much for your beautiful write up on flaxseed . I started eating flaxseed at age 9 but cooked ones after removing the shell but stopped on leaving the village for higer school . Going by your write up, it seems that I did not gain anything in the past . I want to start eating flaxseed again because of wider knowledge of the nutritive value of the seed. Then my parents were illiterate concerning flaxseed . I am now confused, whether to grind the whole flaxseed or remove the shell before grinding. I am 50yrs+ .thank you

  • Mary says:

    I never leave comments on webpages, but I HAVE TO SAY this is so well written..educational and comical. Loved this read. 😉

  • Cindybin says:

    You mentioned that you drink coffee? If so, that is terrible. I have ranted against coffee for YEARS online, writing tons of blogs and thousands of comments. Haven’t you read a thing I’ve written???

  • Derek says:

    A funny, informative read. Happy trails : )

  • Allison says:

    Thanks for your honest humor, I’ve been researching how to grind the flax seeds I recently bought and have been thinking, “The heck I’m buying a dang FLAX SEED MILL…” So not worth it. At least a coffee grinder has more than one function. I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking these things! I feel better about biting the bullet and getting a coffee grinder now 😉

  • Bill says:

    I work for a Canadian certified flax grower and if anyone cares to know the golden flax or yellow flax is 2/3 more loaded in oils than the popular brown and has a much milder flavor to it,we and our horses goats and chickens love it!

  • Deborah Jason says:

    I just found your Website, and just LOVE it!! :) You are so well spoken and explain things in such an amusing and articulate way. You answered my questions regarding flax seeds very well. Keep up the great work… I’ll be back to check on whatever else I have questions about. :)

  • Elizabeth Gaire says:

    Nearly sold my unused coffee grinder on Ebay – now I have found a use for it :) . I bought seeds by mistake instead of my usual milled and have since found out that it was a happy mistake as they are cheaper and better for you – Linseed and flaxseed are the same thing and cheaper if shopping in the UK.

  • Katherine says:

    Okay….I guess I will get another coffee grinder! I tried a mortar and pestle….nope….I tried it in my Ninja….nope….I ended up adding them whole. I did not want to use the coffee grinder as I did not want coffee smell in my homemade fig newtons….so, a new grinder it will be!

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