Sunday, 29 July 2012

There ain't nothing wrong with a little (bump and) grind.

This week I have been grinding like crazy. You see I want to get the most out of my seeds. Or flax seed to be more precise.

Some seeds, like flax, need a little help to unlock their benefits. The good stuff like omega 3, fibre, protein and antioxidants (or check THIS for its full nutritional profile) are trapped by a rather sturdy shell that, unless you are able to grind each seed with your teeth, will go straight through you (a little mental imagery for you there....).

The good news is, that once they are ground up you can absorb all the nutritional benefits and you also have a far more versatile super food. For example, you can incorporate the powder into cakes, breads and cracker recipes, and mixed with a little water can apparently provide a vegan egg substitute - I can't wait to try these other options out.

Up to now though, I've stuck to grinding my seeds  only for my breakfast porridge. Before, I did this by soaking the seeds to soften them before whizzing them up in my blender for a green breakfast smoothie. But lately I've been craving porridge for breakfast and while I still wanted to include the seeds (flax and sunflower) I wouldn't be able to reap their benefits if they were added whole.

I did some research, and I could've just bought to ground flax seed to add to my breakfast straight from the pack, but I also learnt that it works out a lot more expensive to buy ground seeds, and flax rapidly loses its potency when it meets the air because it oxidises. Therefore, an open pack of ground flax wouldn't last at its best for long.

So, I bought a grinder to do it myself! A really basic electric coffee grinder, and as long as it lasts, it should pay for itself. Plus I have freshly ground flax every time, and it takes less than 10 seconds to do and is much easier to clean than a blender after making a smoothie :-)

The main reason I started incorporating flax seed into my diet was for their anti-inflammatory properties. Since I was about 17 I have been prone to digestive upset - random episodes of excruciating stomach cramps keeping me up at night feeling nauseated and sometimes throwing up too. A bit like a migraine but the pain is in my abdomen rather than my head. I have been scanned and tested for anything the doctor could think of but nothing significant came up. So, I have been taking matters into my own hands and since I have converted to eating more cleanly and incorporating anti-inflammatory, high-fibre foods like flax seed, my episodes have become more and more infrequent. When I was 18 I developed a kind of arthritis in my knee which the doctors again couldn't quite explain. I'm fully rehabilitated now and my knee and other joints rarely give me any trouble, and this is another reason I believe anti-inflammatory foods are so important, for me at least. And if I needed even more reason to include highly anti-oxidant foods into my diet, the suggestion that they have anti-cancer properties, especially since my Mum's illness, is pretty important to me.

OK, pity parade is over.

The bottom line is a) flax seeds are good guys out to get the bad guys and b) get grinding. I also hope to use my grinder to make spice mixes from whole seeds - I just hope I will be able to clean it well enough that my porridge won't taste of curry.

Oh, and before you think I've moved away from green way! I'm reinventing them as a post-workout meal with soaked chia seeds (they don't need grinding), blended with berries, yoghurt, spinach and barley grass (another of my anti-inflammatory treasures).

Hope you have had a good weekend, I had a rest day yesterday but a more intense high intensity interval training (HIIT) and lifting day today. I'm still keeping up with my programme and have had minimal shuffling of the training days this week which has been good for my focus. I'm keen to keep on top of everything again this week as on Saturday I am taking part in my next event - a 10K assault course. I will share more about this with you tomorrow!

'Til then,

Hannah xx 

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