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Wildly-Affordable Food: Flax 'Eggs'

Should the rising price of eggs put a crimp in your baking? No! Mix up flaxseed "eggs" in less than a minute. They're good for you and good for the planet.
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Egg prices soared 9.5 percent last year and will go up more in 2012, says the USDA. Should that put a crimp in your baking? No! Mix up a flaxseed "egg" in less than a minute. An organic flaxseed egg costs about 9 cents, or $1.08 a dozen. You'd pay more than three times as much for dozen large organic chicken eggs and about 70 percent more to get eggs from chickens raised in factory farms.

Not only that, whole flaxseed stays fresh for years at room temperature. Ground flaxseed keeps for months in the refrigerator or, better yet, the freezer. Keeping flaxseed in the house means never having to put off baking because you're out of eggs.

You won't waste money buying a dozen chicken eggs, only to find they've spoiled before you used them. As much as I loved buying eggs that came from pastured chickens at my farmers' market, I don't miss cleaning the feathers and worse off the shells.

How to make a flaxseed egg

If you are starting with whole flaxseed, grind it in a very dry coffee grinder or food processor.

Mix one tablespoon finely ground flaxseed with three tablespoons water and heat briefly. I mix mine in a soup bowl, then zap it in the microwave for 40 seconds on high. If you don't use a microwave, heat the mix in a small pan on the stove.

Stir the hot mixture with a fork to get an eggy texture. Let it cool to room temperature before mixing with baking powder or baking soda, or you will trigger their rising action too soon.

What are flax eggs good for?

Chicken eggs are the smartphones of the kitchen -- sleek packages that perform many tasks. Flaxseed eggs aren't all that, but what they do, they do well: hold other ingredients together.

Here's how to get started including flaxseed eggs in your recipes:

  • For one-egg recipes, use a flaxseed egg instead.

  • For two-egg recipes, use a flaxseed egg and a quarter-cup of applesauce.
  • For bean burgers or other recipes that need binding but tend to be watery, use only one or two tablespoons of liquid when you make the flaxseed egg.
  • To amp up the flavor, use broth or juice instead of water. Try vegetable broth for burgers or apple juice for muffins.
  • On the other hand, flax eggs don't whip up like chicken eggs, so they won't lift a cake or soufflé. Their golden or brown color will show in pale cakes, which I like to hide with strawberry sauce.

    And you'll need to break an egg (or mix up some chickpea flour) to make an omelet. Scrambled flaxseed is a gluey mess, like Wheatena made with rubber cement.

    Good for your health, too!

    Your heart will love flaxseed eggs as much as your wallet does. They are rich sources of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor to the omega-3 fatty acids that you pay big bucks to get from salmon.

    Flaxseed eggs are packed with nutrition, including B vitamins, vitamin E, and important minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium and iron. Each one even has two grams of fiber.

    Flaxseed eggs bring the good without the bad. They have no cholesterol and are very low in sodium. A flaxseed egg has only half the calories of a large chicken egg and much less fat -- no saturated fat and half the total fat of an egg.

    You can also enjoy the health benefits of flaxseed by mixing it into your oatmeal or smoothies.

    What's the WAO?

    Flaxseed eggs are a "Wildly Affordable Organic" pick because they make going organic so affordable. They're more affordable than eggs from happy, pastured chickens fed organic, vegetarian food. They're even more affordable than eggs from miserable chickens in confinement facilities.

    They're good for you and good for the planet. You reduce your carbon footprint every time you use a flaxseed egg instead of a chicken egg. Think about it: Even ground flaxseed doesn't need refrigeration until you open the package. That means you're following WAO way 9: "Don't ship water by adding water at home."

    What are the facts on your flax?

    Have you tried cooking with flaxseed eggs? Share your favorite tips and recipes in the comments below. But please, don't egg-zaggerate. Stick to the flax.

    For more by Linda Watson, click here.

    For more on diet and nutrition, click here.

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