Oatmeal Flax Squares

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26 Mar Oatmeal Flax Squares

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I’ve been experimenting with flax seeds lately. I know they’re full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and cancer-fighting lignans, but truth be told, I’m attracted to their crunch and nutty taste.

So when Linda Braun’s Everything Flax (Whitecap, 2009) hit the shelves, I just had to get a copy. What struck me most wasn’t the flax-centric recipes, but rather how easily flax incorporated into everyday fare. I expected to see it in cookies, granola bars and muffins, but Braun sprinkles toasted seeds over salsa, wraps them into California sushi rolls and exploits their crunchy goodness in crusts for pork, chicken and even tuna.

Being a dessert fan, I tried the flax Raspberry Scotch Squares. While the pan disappeared quickly, I couldn’t tell if flax was integral to the dessert or just a healthy ingredient snuck into the mix. So, I decided to experiment with an old family favourite. Would adding flax improve, detract from or make no difference to the recipe?

My late Aunt Bess – all five feet of her — was always out for adventure, so I took her oatmeal squares recipe and flaxxed it up. Following the proportions from Braun’s squares, I substituted 1/2 cup of ground flax for an equal amount of 3-minute oats and tossed in 2 tablespoons of whole flax for crunch. Like the previous flax dessert, this pan disappeared.

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These squares have always been too crumbly, requiring quick reflexes to get one to your mouth in tact, and a spoon to salvage the crumbs. The flax version was no more cohesive, but once in your mouth, the seeds added a lovely crunch.

What surprised me was the change in flavour. While the nuttiness of the flax complemented the oatmeal, butter and brown sugar, it also took the edge off the sweetness. The original recipe is dead sweet, but this version is less in-your-face sugary.

I have yet to try flax in soup, pilaf, risotto and mains. I’m inspired by the range of recipes in Everything Flax, but wanting to move beyond my baked-goods comfort zone, am not sure where to begin. Do you add flax to your diet? If so, how? If you don’t, what sort of recipes would you like me to try?

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Oatmeal and Flax Squares
Printable Recipe

Makes 16 squares.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (must be butter for flavour)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups 3-minute oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax*
  • 2 T whole flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add oats, ground flax, whole flax and baking soda, mixing very well.
  3. Press HARD into 8″ X 8″ pan.
  4. Bake at 300F for 15 minutes. Watch so that they don’t burn.
  5. Cool and cut into squares.

* Note: I like the nutty taste of flax and added enough to alter the flavour of the original recipe. If you’re leery and want something closer to the original, try 1/4 cup flax and 1 3/4 cups of oats.

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  • Elyse
    Posted at 10:42h, 26 March Reply

    What an awesome idea!! I love that you’re incorporating flax into your favorite recipes–and it seems like such an easy substitution. Plus, I love that flax enhances the flavor and isn’t just standing in there as a healthy ingredient! I can’t wait to get some flax and play around–and I might just have to invest in Everything Flax…it sounds like a fun cookbook!

  • squirrelbread
    Posted at 11:49h, 26 March Reply

    Brilliant! Love the flavor and texture combinations. Thumbs up from the nutrition world!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  • oneordinaryday
    Posted at 13:14h, 26 March Reply

    I’ve recently discovered milled flax seed and have been using that to just sprinkle on whatever I want – oatmeal, spaghetti sauce, smoothies… You never even notice it’s there, but it provides a powerful kick of nutrients.

    Michelle
    http://oneordinaryday.wordpress.com

  • cheryl
    Posted at 13:16h, 26 March Reply

    OK, having just put up my own post and then coming directly to yours, I feel like a fat hog.

    I love flax. I sprinkle the ground seeds (flax meal) over my cereal every single day. If I can’t find it in the fridge, I panic because I’ve grown so accustomed to eating it each morning.

    I’m always wary when I bake with it, though, and usually don’t add more than 2 tablespoons to a recipe. But I trust that if your bars had a full half-cup, I can try upping the ante. Those look really, really good!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 13:22h, 26 March Reply

    Elyse, it is an easy substitution. Finally a swap that doesn’t require math!

    Squirrelbread, I wish adding nutrition was always this easy.

    Oneordinaryday,I like the idea of adding it to spaghetti sauce and smoothies. I’ll give it a try.

    Cheryl, if you’re concerned about too strong a taste, just try substituting 1/4 of ground flax and upping the oatmeal by that amount. I like the taste, so went full hog.

  • Maggie
    Posted at 14:34h, 26 March Reply

    These look great! I love flax seed meal as an egg replacement in cookies and breads. 1 tablespoon of meal mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and set for 5 minutes so it gels. For cookies I often add more flax meal in addition to the egg replacement. It gives a great nutty taste.

  • stephchows
    Posted at 14:44h, 26 March Reply

    I seriously just a few hours ago picked up a bag while at the store, so I am very excited to see what you use them in! You gave me a bunch of great ideas to try. My first use will just be in my mid-afternoon snack bowl of oatmeal, but I definitely plan on adding these into just about everything from now on :)

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:12h, 26 March Reply

    While ground flax offers more accessible nutrients, I’m really partial to whole golden flaxseeds. I add them to fried rice, pasta, salads, pizzas … almost anything.

  • danamccauley
    Posted at 18:18h, 26 March Reply

    Sounds like a successful experiment! In fact, I’m craving a cup of Earl Grey tea and one of your squares after reading the description.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 20:29h, 26 March Reply

    I have used flax for years!I even put ground flax on my dog’s food! he has a nice shiny coat and is in good health…I use it in my home made bread, muffins, cookies …I grind it and put a few tablespoons in juice or water and give a stir and glp it down..flax is known to shrink breast cancer tumours…DO NOT USE FLAX IF YOU ARE ON TAMOXIFEN-IT CAN RAISE YOUR ESTROGEN LEVELS……( just a nte of caution)

  • Hayley
    Posted at 22:16h, 26 March Reply

    Beautiful pictures! These sound like the perfect snack. Thanks for sharing!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 09:03h, 27 March Reply

    Anonymous, good to know about the tamoxafen. My sister gives her cat flax. Maybe I should try it with mine?

    Haley, thanks for the kind words. I think I snacked on these a bit much and need to walk it off. After all, there’s a lot of butter in these squares!

  • Regina
    Posted at 11:17h, 27 March Reply

    i too love flax seed and am always looking to adding in some of my favorite recipes. It is great in risotto, a must try!

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