Flaxseeds: What You Need to Know + Chickpea Crab Cakes

March 7, 2016 / Molly Patrick /

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Hiking is one of those things that I subconsciously convince myself I do a lot more of than I actually do.

In my brain I go for a hike a few times a month. In reality, I go every three months. Meditation is also like that. The last time someone asked me if I mediate, I answered with a confident “Yes” and then had to backtrack because as it turns out, sporadic bouts of meditation once a quarter doesn’t really count.

Regular hiking and daily meditation are among things that the best version of myself would do. This version would also read every night instead of watching Netflix, volunteer at animal sanctuaries on the weekends and eat fruit and hummus when I’m PMSing instead of potato chips and cookies. This version of myself definitely wouldn’t have farted super loud while I was shopping at Target the other day – it came out of damn nowhere.

We’ve all got shit to work on.

Last weekend, I got my ass out in nature and I went for a hike.

During my hike I had to pee, so I found a spot that was tucked back from the trail, I unbuttoned and I squatted. Midway through my wiz, I heard something rustling in the bushes behind me.

I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to know what was in the bushes because RATTLESNAKES, but the pee was still coming, so I figured I should arm myself with the knowledge of what I might be up against.

So I perked up as far as my squat would allow and I turned my head as far as it would go, all the while pushing the pee out as fast and as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t see anything, but I could still hear the rustling.

At this point it was extremely possible that whatever was in the bushes was being blinded by my fluorescent white ass – a handy weapon that I’d never considered up until this point. The second there was no more pee, I pulled up my pants as fast as I could and I darted back to the trail.

I have no idea what newly blinded creature was in those bushes, but it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point.

The point is this.

As I was on my guard, perked up in my squat, scoping out dangerous threats and pissing on dirt, I was struck with an obvious notion that is often overlooked due to busy lives and lots of screens.

We might live in houses and drive cars and communicate through electronic devices, but at the end of the day, we’re all animals.

You’re welcome to do what you want with that.

Here’s what I took from it.

We’re not meant to eat food that’s been made in factories. We’re meant to eat food that’s been grown in the earth. Having scientific data serves a purpose, and there’s a ton of it out there which supports the health benefits of eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet, but for me and my choice to eat a diet full of plants, I do it because it feels right all the way down to my bones.

It makes sense to my animal instinct. It resonates with my ancient brain. It’s the most obvious choice. It’s how my gut tells me to eat. I connect to eating the Whole Food Plant Based diet in the same way that I connect with nature (when I take the time to do it). They both bring me extreme pleasure, gratitude and stability.

And the way I feel, both physically and mentally from eating this way, is all of the validation that I’ll ever need to continue.

  • The people who don’t understand it can’t stop me.
  • The pain in the ass of planning and batching can’t stop me.
  • The inconvenience of traveling while plant based can’t stop me.
  • The family members who think I’m crazy can’t stop me.
  • The fact that I have to take a vitamin B12 supplement once in awhile can’t stop me.
  • Going out to eat with non-plant based eaters in non-plant based friendly restaurants can’t stop me.
  • PMS might be able to stop me. But only momentarily.

The food that you choose to eat is a highly personal and emotional thing and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The most important thing is that it feels right to you and that you feel supported by your diet.

If you’re ready to start dabbling with the Whole Food Plant Based diet or you’re finally ready to go all in, stand up and give me a virtual fist pump and a HELL YES. Then go sign up here for our plant fueled meal plans.

Onward through the fuckery, which has gone from a two parter to an ongoing fuckery about certain ingredients that aren’t incorporated into the diet as much as they should be.

Last week was all about seaweed. This week is all about flaxseeds and next week is all about turmeric. 

So much fuckery, so little time. Maybe I should just write a book and be done with it?

Let’s booty bump to that and start her up.

Flaxseeds

They’ve been eaten by hippies for a long time. And when I say hippies, I mean my parents. I have very clear memories of flaxseeds from my childhood. They were always stored in a reused plastic bread bag next to the molasses and the carob powder (fucking carob – what a mean trick).

My mom would sprinkle ground flaxseeds over my oats and top them with cinnamon, raisins, and rice milk.
I wanted Rice Krispies.
I got Flax Oats. It was damn disappointing.
But as usual, my mom was onto something because flaxseeds were the original “superfood”.

Here are three reasons to start incorporating a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseeds into your daily routine.

 1: It’s been shown that flaxseeds lower blood pressure better than blood pressure lowering medication.

A few years back there was a rare dietary study done on humans to see if flaxseeds are beneficial in lowering blood pressure. This was a double blind, placebo controlled, randomized trial – the best of the best as far as scientific studies go. Here’s something to chew on before I get to the results.

This particular type of study is done all the time with prescription drugs, but nutrition and dietary studies where scientists look at different foods and how they affect health are not nearly as common.

There are lots of reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is because it’s ridiculously expensive to do this type of study and the pharmaceutical industry has millions to spend on stuff like this (especially when the results miraculously come out in their favor). Whereas farmers are just trying to make a living.

Another reason is that logistically, it’s a lot easier to give an active pill to one participant and a placebo pill to another participant everyday without them knowing, than it is to give 1/4 cup of flaxseeds to one participant and no flaxseeds to another participant everyday without them knowing.

Or 2 cups of broccoli to one participant and no broccoli to another participant everyday without anyone catching on. Remember, this type of study is double blind, meaning no one participating in the study can know anything about what they are getting (or not).

Logistically and financially, double blind, placebo controlled, randomized trials are perfect for drugs and drug companies and not realistic for kale and kale farmers or sweet potatoes and sweet potato farmers.

If there were as many nutrition studies done on whole plant foods as there are studies done on prescription drugs, we would live in a much different world. But that’s a different ball of fuckery altogether.

The only reason that this study was done in the first place was because the meat industry wanted to be able to make health claims about some of their products by adding in flaxseeds. So the study was funded, the logistics were sorted, and this is what they found:

  • The participants who were hypertensive at the beginning of the study, given no flaxseeds and taking drug lowering blood pressure medication were still hypertensive after 6 months – the length of the study.
  • The participants who were unknowingly eating flaxseeds every day for 6 months dropped their systolic blood pressure by 10 points and their diastolic blood pressure by 7 points. This drop in numbers could cut stroke risk by 35% and heart disease risk by 29%.

And this was with no other changes being made to their diet and lifestyle.

Imagine if the participants ate flaxseeds every day AND were eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet. Throw in some yoga and mediation and it would be goodbye Metoprolol, Benazepril and Hydrochlorothiazide.

Oh shit, this wouldn’t be good for Big Pharma or the meat and dairy industry! Quick – public relations better propagate more bullshit about how unhealthy soy is, how the plant based diet lacks enough protein and how saturated fat is actually good for you.

Can you see the point at which the slope gets slippery? One thing that isn’t slippery is that eating flaxseeds helps with high blood pressure. And that is a fact.

2: Flaxseeds are one of the best plant based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular health, cognitive health and depression. Salmon is usually the go-to food for Omega-3 fatty acids, but if you eat a wide range of whole plant foods and include a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseeds into your daily routine, you can easily skip the salmon, especially if you’re eating your seaweed a few times a week.

3: Flaxseeds have the highest concentration of lignans of any food on the planet.

Lignans are a type of phytochemical. When we eat lignan-rich foods, the good bacteria in the colon takes these plant lignans and turns them into powerful anti-cancer compounds, especially against breast and prostate cancer.

If your gut is out of balance and the ratio of good to bad bacteria is off, plant lignans are unable to be transformed into anticancer all stars.

This is another reason to avoid taking antibiotics as much as possible and to stay away from antibiotic treated animal based foods. See, antibiotics kill off good bacteria in the gut. This is why women tend to get yeast infections after they take antibiotics or eat a lot of antibiotic treated animal foods.

So lignans are a huge plus of eating flaxseeds, but you have to make sure that your gut is happy and balanced before you get the anti-cancer benefits.

Screw Walking for the Cure, how about Gut Balance and Eating Plants for the Cure?

Here are my top flaxseed tips to help you become a flax machine (kind of like Rage Against the Machine, only less anger and more fiber).

  • You can usually find whole flaxseeds and ground flaxseeds in the bulk bin section at any health food store. You can also buy them packaged.
  • Whole flaxseeds have a hard protective casing around each seed that protects their nutrients. Because of this, you want to always eat ground flaxseeds, not whole flaxseeds. Whole flaxseeds will pass right through you, not doing your body any good. Imagine you are the whole flaxseed and your digestive system is the waterslide. Now go down the waterslide. In one end and out the other. Got it?
  • You can buy ground flaxseeds or you can grind them yourself. I suggest grinding them yourself. Here’s why. Just like any minimally processed ingredient, the sooner you eat the food after it has been ground, the more nutrients you’ll get. So grinding your own will up the bioavailability of the nutrients. Plus, it’s super easy. Place 1/2 cup of whole flaxseeds into your blender and blend for a minute or so until you’re left with ground flaxseeds. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge. You can also use a spice grinder or a small food processor to grind your seeds. If you can’t be bothered to grind your own, just by pre-ground and be done with it. You might not get as many nutrients, but they will still do you good.
  • Always store flaxseeds (ground and whole) in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers. Use ground flaxseeds within a few months. Whole flaxseeds last longer because of their protective casing.
  • You might come across brown and golden flaxseeds at the grocery store. They have the same nutrient makeup, so either type is fine.
  • Flaxseeds don’t taste like anything, so they’re versatile. You can add a tablespoon or so to your green smoothies, sprinkle some on your oats (I’ve been well versed in this method for 30 years) or use them as a binder instead of eggs (see today’s recipe).
  • Flaxseed oil isn’t worth fucking around with because it doesn’t contain nearly as many nutrients as the seeds themselves (this is true with all oils).

Let me check in with you before I wrap up and remind you that a variety of different nutrients from different plant foods works together in your body to keep you healthy.

Plant lignans transforming into anti-cancer compounds is the perfect example of this. It doesn’t matter how many flaxseeds you eat, unless your gut bacteria is nice and balanced, those lignans won’t morph into protection for your body.

And having a healthy gut has everything to do with how well you eat and how well you treat your body. People who eat the Standard American Diet and who also eat ground flaxseeds are missing out on the anti-cancer effects of the lignans because of the condition of their gut.

You can think of it as you would a performer.

Madonna might be badass, but without her sound people, her makeup artist, her wardrobe person, her dancers and her stage hands, her performances wouldn’t be the rich experiences that they are.

Adele might have an amazing fucking voice, but if it wasn’t for her producers, her manager, and her publicists, none of us would think of her every time we heard the word hello.

What I’m saying is this. Add flaxseeds to your diet. But make sure your overall diet is in check and full of whole plant foods so that you’ll get all of the benefits that they have to offer. I want all of the nutrients that enter your gorgeous, perfect body to have a purpose and to keep you healthy and happy.

You DO NOT want to miss today’s recipe. It’s my new favorite. It’s also my (real) crab loving girlfriend’s new favorite.

Chickpea Crab Cakes

Author: Molly Patrick of Clean Food Dirty Girl

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a red onion cut into quarters
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper cut into quarters
  • 3 garlic cloves left whole
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley 20g
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans or 3 cups cooked garbanzos / 490g, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 green onions use the whole thing, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds 45g
  • 2 teaspoons dulse flakes or powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 turns cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Place the red onion, red bell pepper, garlic and parsley in your food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients have been chopped up and there are no big pieces of anything.
  • Add the garbanzo beans to the food processor and pulse until most of them are chopped up. If there are a few whole beans, it’s no biggie.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Into that same mixing bowl, add the green onions, ground flaxseeds, dulse, salt and pepper, and mix with a spoon until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Make nine equal size patties and place them on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes on one side, flip and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Serve on a bed of greens, on a sprouted bun or bread, or by itself. This is insanely yummy with Tahini Crack drizzled over it, a little mustard, some sauerkraut and lettuce to finish it off. Get freaky in the kitchen and feel free to add whatever toppings or variations you like.

Notes

Makes 9 patties. These freeze really well, so if you’re cooking for one, make a whole batch and put half of them in the freezer.

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I hope that you have a happy week. May it be filled with pissing in nature.

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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9 Comments

  1. Shana Sharp on March 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    looks yummie!

  2. Snehal Kulkarni on March 15, 2016 at 2:55 am

    looks delish! you write up very well can’t wait to try this, thanks for sharing

  3. Alison on April 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Those turned out great! Will definitely keep them on the regular meal plan rotation.

  4. Stacy Volin on April 3, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I just came to your web site thru forksoverknives.com. I have over 100 lbs. to lose and I need to go plant based Vegan so that I get this weight off and keep it off. An Internet friend of mine lost 180 lbs. doing this and has successfully kept her weight at ideal body weight for 2 years going Vegan plant based,is never hungry,has turned around all of her bad lab reports. Needless to say, I’ve tried everything but I believe this will work.
    I love your recipes approach and of course your humor because you say it as it is and I am very enthused to turn my life around at age 57. I’m also an Intensive Care Nurse and I know that this is a lifestyle that makes sense and will keep me healthy.
    Thank you for your website and dedication to being there for people like me who need your help badly. I need to change my eating habits NOW before I succumb to my family’s awful cardiac and diabetes history. I am very grateful for you and forks over knives web sites.
    Thank you sooooo much!
    Stacy

  5. Christina Gonsoulin on August 21, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I think I did something wrong because mine came out super dry and I was not able to get them down without water. Has anyone else experienced that? The flavor was okay but we are still just getting use to plant based eating.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on August 22, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Hi Christina,

      If you are able to prepare your chickpeas at home, you can make them softer by cooking them longer (they’ll have more absorbed moisture). Also, ground flax sucks up liquid like crazy due its soluble fiber content. There’s a little more than 1 tablespoon of flax per patty based on the recipe which is about what I put in my smoothies. Perhaps the combination of firmer chickpeas and absorbent flax made a perfect storm for drier-than-you’d-like patties. Other thoughts, if you have a convection oven (I do and have to adjust my cooking times), reduce the cooking time by a few minutes or so. Alternatively, you could try adding a tablespoon or two of water to the mixture before forming into patties as that too will help create a softer texture.

      Hopefully you will try the recipe again and let us know if any of the tweaks helped with the moisture level. Best to you on your plant based journey!

      Karen
      Team Dirty Girl

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