Healthy Grains: Wheat Germ and Flax Seed – and the best Zucchini Bread ever

Whole Wheat does not mean that it’s whole grain, you have to check the package listing of ingredients.  Multi-grain can also be misleading.  All (wheat) flour comes from wheat, it’ just has been stripped of the most nutritious part of the wheat kernel.  Some prepared foods use a little bit of whole grain in

the ingredients, but still have more bleached flour in the recipe.  You have to look for 100% whole grain to get the most healthy version.  This is why people sometimes add wheat germ to a recipe.  Sometimes they use unbleached flour to make it look healthier, but the flour is otherwise the same as white flour.

Because I don’t care much for fish, I add ground Flax Seed to my smoothies to get Omega 3’s.  As people try to cut back on the 3 whites (salt, sugar, flour) ground flax seed is added to baked goods, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, and meatballs/meatloaf.  You must grind flax seed before consuming because the hull of the seed is not digestible and you will not absorb the healthy nutrients.

NOTE:  both flax seed and wheat germ will spoil easily when ground, so keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within a few months.  Since the whole grains keep longer, you may wish to buy them whole and grind yourself when preparing a recipe.  Flax seed oil can also be used (some people think the oil does not contain the health benefits), and will spoil even faster than ground flax seed.  (I also wrote a little about using flax seed oil, vs. butter, vs. shortening etc.)

My favorite Zucchini Bread recipe (see below) includes Wheat Germ, so I started looking into that too.  It’s used in some baked goods or cereal and smoothies to add protein, folic acid and other minerals.  A little does go a long way – if you put too much it will give a strange (kind of bitter) taste.  I’d say the first time, try subbing 1/4 cup of flour for 1/3 cup of wheat germ in baked goods.  Replace 2 tablespoons of flour with wheat germ in a standard pancake recipe calling for 1 1/2 cups of flour.  Increase that amount if you enjoy the rich taste.  Replace up to 1/4 cup of flour with wheat germ for each loaf of quick or yeast bread. You can also replace two tablespoons of flour with wheat germ in a cookie recipe.  Other recipes with wheat germ.

More details about these two grains from the Fresh Food Perspectives blog

Details on Wheat Germ and adding it to recipes on eHow

Recipes and detailed information on Wheat Germ Blog

Whole Foods guide to Grains and Flours

More discussion on Whole Grains:  The Sweet Beet, Mizzou Nutrition Busters,

Green Street {inspired} Zucchini Bread
3 eggs                                                  2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 cup salad oil                                      1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons maple flavoring             1 cup finely chopped walnuts, opt.
1 cup each granulated sugar and firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups coarsely shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 3 medium-size)
2 teaspoons each baking soda and salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sesame seeds

Beat eggs until frothy; add oil, sugars, molasses and maple flavoring, and continue beating until mixture is thick and foamy. Stir in shredded zucchini.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, wheat germ, soda, salt, baking powder, and walnuts (if using) until thoroughly blended; stir gently into zucchini mixture just until blended.

Spoon the batter equally into 2 greased and flour-dusted 9 by 5-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle sesame seed evenly over top of each.  Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until bread begins to pull away from sides of pans and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean.   Let cool in pans for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Biscuits with Flax Seed

1 cup flour                        1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax         3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt                       2/3 cup milk

Mix the flours, flax, baking powder, salt together. Add milk and mix. Knead a few times on floured surface, roll and cut out biscuits. Cook at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Using Flax Seed in Recipes

Flaxseed Meal in Recipes-
You can use Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed meal as a stand in for some or all of the oil or shortening called for in a recipe. Cooks recommend a 3:1 substitution ratio. For example, 3 tbsp. Of flaxseed meal added to a recipe can replace 1 tbsp of the butter, margarine or cooking oil. When flaxseed meal is used instead of oil, baked goods tend to brown more rapidly.

Vegetarian Baking-
Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed meal mixed with water can replace an egg in selected recipes like pancakes, muffins and cookies. These baked goods are gummier and chewier than usual, and the volume is decreased. When using replacement formula, test a recipe first to determine if it meets your expectations.

Egg Replacement Formula-
1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg
Mix Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl and let sit for one to two minutes. Add to a recipe as you would an egg.


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