Many of my clients are looking for ways to limit carbohydrate and grain consumption. This mirrors some popular trends in the current nutritional landscape. Bestselling books such as Always Hungry?, Eat Fat Get Thin, Wheat Belly and The Whole30 recommend eating plans that are rich in healthy fats and fiber while limiting or omitting most grains – particularly those containing gluten.
Grains such a oats, rice and wheat can be quite appealing for reasons other than taste. They’re highly accessible for most and, generally, are reasonably-priced as well. On the other hand, many non-starchy, higher-protein foods tend to be more expensive. Today’s recipe illustrates how to prepare a simple meal that is grain-free, low-carb, vegan-approved and that won’t break the bank. Additionally, it offers an alternative to common breakfast cereals that some people miss when switching over to grain-free diets – think Cream of Wheat and oatmeal.
Healthy Fellow Coco-Flax Cereal
1 cup purified or spring water
1/2 cup shredded coconut *
1/3 cup whole flax seeds *
1/4 cup roasted pistachios
1 tsp vanilla extract or powder *
1/4 tsp Ceylon cinnamon *
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg *
pinch of pink sea salt **
sweetener of choice ***
Nutritional Content: Calories: 545. Protein: 13 grams. Carbohydrates: 9 grams. Fiber: 15 grams. Fat: 44 grams. Two servings per recipe.
* Whenever possible, I opt for organic ingredients. Organic coconut and flax seeds are affordable and easy to find online and at many health food stores. The same is true of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
** A few health and nutrition experts whom I admire recommend and use Himalayan or “pink” salt – a minimally processed source of salt which contains more nutrients and lower levels of potential contaminants than conventional sea salt. So, I’ve been experimenting with it lately. (a, b)
*** Typically, I sweeten this recipe with small amounts of stevia or stevia and monk fruit blends in order to keep the carbohydrate level as low as possible. However, if you’re not concerned about carbohydrates, I would consider using organic maple syrup, raw honey or unrefined coconut sugar. Another way to go is to add some dried or fresh fruit. The end result will still be very nutritious, but it will simply contain more calories and a higher glycemic index/load.
Tip: If you’d prefer a higher-protein version of this recipe, try adding some organic pumpkin seed protein powder. It’s my favorite plant-based protein “supplement”. Highly recommended!
Directions: Start by grinding the whole flax seeds into a powder. Mix the ground flax and other dry ingredients (except the pistachios) in a bowl. Heat a cup of purified water to your desired temperature and stir into the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the roasted pistachios on top. Eat while hot.
I believe it’s important to grind whole flax seed fresh rather than buying pre-ground flax meal. Flax seeds contain a high-percentage of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid which is highly susceptible to oxidation. Personally, I use the grain-milling blade on my Nutribullet. However, other devices can be used, such as a coffee bean or spice grinder. Regardless of what you use to grind your flax, just be certain to clean it well when done. Otherwise, the residual ALA will leave behind a rancid reminder of the flax grind.
- Why Use Coconut? Recent studies dismiss the long-held notion that coconut and coconut oil are risky for the cardiovascular system. In fact, unrefined or “virgin” coconut has been associated with cardiometabolic benefits including reducing body fat and insulin, while increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. What’s more, shredded coconut is a tremendous source of dietary fiber.
- Why Use Flax? Flax seeds contain so much more than just ALA. The whole seeds are abundant sources of fiber, magnesium, protein and Vitamin B1. Also, they contain lignans, a type of polyphenol that may lower the risk of breast cancer, diabetes, hyperlipidemia aka high cholesterol and hypertension. There is even some evidence showing that flax lignans provide symptomatic relief to men living with benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostates.
- Why Use Pistachios? Simply put, they taste great and they’re great for you. These tiny green gems are marked by impressive amounts of copper, monounsaturated fat and protective phytochemicals (carotenoids, chlorophyll, gallic acid and naringenin). And, they add a necessary “crunch factor” to this dish.
While my Coco-Flax Cereal may seem like it’s only for breakfast, I use it as a standby meal for any time of the day. This is especially true as the weather becomes cooler. I find it very filling and satisfying. The one note of caution I want to put out there is that coconut and flax can cause allergic reactions in a small percentage of people. So, if you’re unaccustomed to eating either of these ingredients, start slowly to assess your tolerance. Enjoy!
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Study 1 – Randomized Study of Coconut Oil Vs Sunflower Oil on Cardiovascular … (link)
Study 2 – A Coconut Extra Virgin Oil-Rich Diet Increase HDL Cholesterol and … (link)
Study 3 – Virgin Coconut Oil and its Potential Cardioprotective Effects … (link)
Study 4 – Natural Cures for Breast Cancer Treatment … (link)
Study 5 – Flaxseed and Diabetes … (link)
Study 6 – Flaxseed Consumption May Reduce Blood Pressure … (link)
Study 7 – Dietary Flaxseed Independently Lowers Circulating Cholesterol … (link)
Study 8 – Effect of Flaxseed on Blood Lipid Level in Hyperlipidemic Patients … (link)
Study 9 – Efficacy and Safety of a Flaxseed Hull Extract in the Symptomatic … (link)
Study 10 – Argentinian Pistachio Oil and Flour: A Potential Novel Approach … (link)
Study 11 – Chronic Pistachio Intake Modulates Circulating MicroRNAs Related … (link)
Study 12 – More Pistachio Nuts for Improving the Blood Lipid Profile. Systematic … (link)
Study 13 – Association of Tree Nut and Coconut Sensitizations … (link)
Study 14 – Coconut Anaphylaxis: Case Report and Review … (link)
Study 15 – Prospective Study of Sensitization and Food Allergy to Flaxseed … (link)
Pistachios May Support Cardiometabolic Health
Source: Nutr Today. 2016 May;51(3):133-138. (link)