It's super easy to make a flax or chia egg to replace a regular egg in your recipes.
Flax or chia eggs are a good choice for your dog treat recipes if your dog is sensitive to eggs (and of course in recipes for humans too!).
They're also a great way to add a little extra binding to recipes which use a gluten-free flour mix, or that you are adapting from wheat flour to gluten free.
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Both flax and chia seeds are highly nutritious, containing a range of vitamins, mineral, antioxidants and other essential nutrients so you're replacing the egg with something else that is good for your dog. Win win.
They are not identical in terms of nutrients, fiber or protein but both have considerable health benefits, both for humans and for dogs.
There is one caveat when you're replacing regular eggs with flax or chia eggs, and that is they only really work well if your recipe contains one egg, or at a maximum two. This is because although both have a clingy, jelly-like consistency they don't solidify during the baking process in the same way chicken eggs do.
So, it's best to use flax or chia eggs for dog treats that are biscuit-like rather than for pupcakes. Although in a one-egg-pupcake recipe they still work fairly well.
Flax seeds come in two different types, brown flax seeds and golden flax seeds. Both are packed full of nutrients and have been touted for their health benefits and nutrition for centuries.
Flax seeds are a high fiber, low carb, gluten-free source for a whole range of essential nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, copper and selenium. So much goodness in such photogenic little packages!
If you want to know more about the nutritional content and health benefit of flax seeds check out this page Top 10 Benefits of Flaxseeds much of the information there is relevant to our dogs as well as to ourselves.
Whole flax seeds aren't broken down during the digestion process so the nutrients aren't absorbed. We overcome this by grinding the seeds (you can also soak and sprout flax seeds for maximum nutritional value but that doesn't apply to using them to make flax eggs).
If you want to grind flax seeds at home the quickest and easiest way is to use a coffee grinder. I have a small coffee grinder that I use exclusively for grinding nuts and seeds for my dog treat recipes. You can also use a mortar and pestle but these tiny seeds can be a little tricky to hand grind at times.
You can buy ground flax seed at the grocery store or online if you prefer not to grind them yourself. Either way works fine.
Brown flax seeds v golden flax seeds: Both varieties are nutrient dense with only slight variations in the ratio or content of certain nutrients. Brown flax seeds are slightly higher in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, as well as being a little higher in fat and calories. Golden flax seeds contain a little more protein than the brown seeds.
Brown flax seeds may be a little easier to find in your grocery store, but most natural grocery stores stock both kinds and they're easy to find online too. You can find just about anything on Amazon!
When it comes to using flax seeds in recipes, you might want to take into account their slightly different color and flavor as those will both affect how your dog treats look/taste. Both varieties work just fine to make flax eggs but again, they will affect the color and taste of your end results.
Brown flax seeds have a slightly earthy, nutty taste and they will darken the overall color of your baked goods.
Golden flax seeds have a very slightly smoother, more subtle flavor and the color blends more easily into many treats and other baked items.
I use both interchangeably because let's face it, either works just fine for dog treats because our dogs don't care what color their treats are and the flavor difference is minimal.
Chia seeds are most often found in their black variety, but it is possible to get white chia seeds too. Both types are, like flax seeds, very nutrient dense and packed with all sorts of goodness!
These teeny, tiny little seeds are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), a whole variety of vitamins and minerals, plus they're a great source of fiber and plant based protein.
Chia seeds have a few less calories and are a little higher in fiber than flax seeds but they also contain contain lower levels of copper, manganese and potassium. Overall they're pretty even on the nutrition front and using either seed in your dog treat recipes has health benefits for your dog. You can learn more about the benefits and nutrition properties of Chia seeds here.
One big difference between chia seeds and flax seeds is that they are broken down during digestion so you can use them whole, or ground, in your recipes and your dog will still get all the benefits they bring.
You can also make a chia egg with either whole chia seeds or ground chia seeds, either works just fine. Chia seeds absorb water faster than flax seeds do and become jelly-like much more quickly. I like to use slightly more water to make a chia egg than I do a flax egg.