Friday, August 27, 2010

Cheap green tip: substitute flax seed for eggs in baking

By now, I'm sure you've heard about the massive egg recall taking place in at least 14 states due to salmonella contamination. If you're an egg eater in an affected area, you currently have to forego eggs for a while or pay the much higher prices for uncontaminated organic, free range eggs.

Well, I have a cheap green tip for you! It won't help if you like eggs for breakfast, but it will certainly help if you love to bake like I do.

Purchase a bag or jar of milled flax seed, milled meaning pre-ground. (If you purchase whole flax seeds, you'll have to grind them yourself in a coffee grinder). For each egg you want to replace in a baking recipe, add 1 tablespoon of milled flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water to a blender. Blend about one minute until smooth. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

You'll notice no difference in the taste or texture of your final product, you'll have added some excellent fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids to your recipe, and as an added bonus, you can give the spoon or beaters to your kids to lick without worrying about making them deathly ill.

Is this really a cheap green tip? I did some calculations, and yes, it is. I buy 12 ounce bags of milled flax seed for $2.99 from Grocery Outlet. According to the serving size information, the bag contains 48 tablespoons, or the equivalent (when blended with water) of 48 eggs. That's an average price of 6.2 cents per (substitute) egg.

Regular, non-organic large eggs range in price across the country from $1.39-3.99 a dozen. That's an average of 11.5 to 33.3 cents an egg. So the milled flax seed egg substitute is much cheaper than regular eggs.

OK, you may not have a Grocery Outlet around. Where else could you buy milled (or possibly whole) flax seeds? I'm pretty sure any store that sells natural foods, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Fred Meyer, will carry it. I've never checked, but it's possible that ordinary grocery stores might have it as well. If you still can't find it, you can always purchase it online (see below).

Will it be as cheap as at a discount store such as Grocery Outlet? I think so, or at least comparable to regular eggs. This is a list of flax seed products sold on Here are my calculations for just the first two:

Hodgson Mill Milled Flax Seed, 12-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 8), for $15.20. That's $1.90 for each 12 oz box, or about 4 cents per tablespoon (and remember, each tablespoon makes one egg).

Flax Usa Cold Milled Flax, 40-Ounce Canister (Pack of 2), for $25. That's 80 ounces of milled flax seed, or about 320 tablespoons. So the price is about 7.8 cents per tablespoon/replacement egg. In both cases, it's still much cheaper than buying regular eggs.

Another added benefit: while you have to use the flax seed/water mix within three days, the unmixed flax seeds themselves can be stored in your refrigerator for a couple of months, or your freezer for even longer (and yes, you must refrigerate or freeze the bag or container once it's been opened. Milled flax seed will go rancid otherwise). Try doing that with a dozen eggs!

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