flaxseed bread

We all sneak in that second (third… ahem… fourth) cookie this time of year. Hey, it’s the holidays. While we don’t recommend overindulging every day of the year, between out-of-control gift shopping, planning holiday meals and all of the other little stresses that the holidays create, you deserve an anxiety-relieving baked good, especially if you’re the one rustling up all of those holiday treats.

Sure, you can’t exactly call cakes or cookies “healthy,” but substituting flax seeds for certain staple ingredients can pump up the nutrition. Besides offering those all-important omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds also contain calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorous, vitamin E and fiber. So go ahead, treat yourself by tweaking your recipes to make baked goods a tad healthier using flax seeds.

These three ways to substitute heart-healthy flax seeds for traditional baking ingredients will help you defer (if only for a little while) that dreaded over-eaters’ remorse.

1. Egg substitute

While nixing eggs from your breakfast foods isn’t difficult, replacing eggs in baking recipes can be a frustrating, almost-scientific task. And vegans aren’t the only ones looking for egg substitutes. Those with cholesterol problems and egg allergies can also benefit from swapping out the eggs.

Fortunately, flax seeds make the perfect egg substitute for any “grainy” baked good. Think muffins, breads, cookies and pancakes. The flax seeds will enhance the flavor of these goodies by adding a nutty taste.

To replace eggs with flax seeds, add 1 tablespoon flax seeds and three tablespoons water for each egg. You can use pre-ground flax seed meal or grind your own flax seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor. Chill your mixture before adding it to the recipe so it binds into that gloopy consistency we all associate with eggs.

2. Oil substitute

While sugar is certainly a culprit, the oils in baked goods—margarine, butter, vegetable oils, shortening—make them decidedly unhealthy. Trading out the oil for healthy flax seeds is a no-brainer. To do this, use a three to one ratio. If the recipe calls for 1/3 cup oil, add 1 cup ground flax seeds.

3. Flour substitute

Boost the nutritional value of your sweets by cutting out 25 perfect of the flour in a recipe and replacing it with ground flax seeds. For those who don’t like to do the math, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, mix in ¾ cup flour and ¼ cup ground flax seeds. Swapping out the flour for flax seeds will amp up the nutrition and give your baked duds a lovely golden brown hue.

Keep in mind you only want to try one of these substitutions per recipe—otherwise you’ll just end up with a bowl full of flax seeds, which probably isn’t what you’re going for.

image: sierravalleygirl

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