Another magical Saturday – making coconut bars.

In women’s magazines Saturday seems magical. I don’t know why it is different from Sunday but it is. In magazines women are off to a sleepy seaside resort to shop for antiques, wearing a cute outfit of (fill in the blanks). Or they are playing croquet, going to an art exhibit, followed by a wine tasting and an excellent lunch. The images are usually outdoorsy, casual but elegant.

Well my life isn’t like that. It’s not that exciting or organized. I might, on a good Saturday, make it to the market. Go out for lunch – most definitely – but a glass of wine is unlikely. A walk is likely on the agenda. Once in a while we do manage something more elegant. Favourite winter Saturdays have been spent sipping tea and eating nibbles at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress hotel, or strolling along the waterfront. We don’t do that in the summer because it is too congested with tourists.

I often putter around the house on a Saturday. Today I made a new recipe (Coconut Bars) adapted from Elana’s Pantry – an event because I rarely bake! But I’ve been going through Elana’s Pantry website over the last few days and have tried a few recipes (I did the roasted broccoli last night and it was a hit).

I usually adapt recipes and here’s what I did with Elana’s coconut bar recipe.

My Coconut Bars

3 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 dates (pits removed)
½ cup spelt flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

Mix eggs, coconut milk, oil, and vanilla in a food processor. Pour into a bowl. Mix the pitted dates,  flour, shredded coconut and salt into food processor. Pulse the egg and coconut milk mixture into the dry ingredients.

Transfer ingredients into an 8×8 inch lightly greased baking dish. (Elana’s recipe didn’t say to oil the pan and mine stuck to the bottom a little, so I thought I would add that to the recipe).

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Cool for ½ hour, then place in refrigerator and serve when chilled. (I have to admit I couldn’t wait that long to taste them).

Cut into 15 bars.

They are good and not too sweet.  I think some semi-sweet dark chocolate chips would be a nice addition. I wanted to find a recipe for a post Nia class snack. I don’t know if this is the one  – they are very cake-like and I am looking for something a little denser and robust. I’ll keep tinkering with the recipe. The original used blanched almond flour. I’ll probably look for some while I am at the market this weekend.

And as for today, once I’ve finished cooking and cleaning up maybe we’ll head to the beach – although I am sure it will be packed on this gorgeous summer Saturday. I shot this photo of beach toys at a hardware store a few weeks ago. It takes me back to my childhood when we did spend a lot of time at the beach. I spent many happy hours building sand castles!

© Deborah Redfern 2012-2013. All rights reserved.

Iron Building Soup

It has been about a year and a half on a vegan diet and I was very curious about what my blood tests would show. I recently went to get new blood tests it showed my iron levels were lower than last time – a bit below ‘normal’.

I am a big believer in diet first, then medicine, and my experience has been that correcting my diet eliminates the need for pharmaceutical drugs. Even though I am not on a raw food diet, my main reference book is Becoming Raw – The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina so I went to look up the section on iron. I learned that iron transports oxygen throughout the body and carries away the waste product carbon dioxide. Iron also improves immune system functioning. I would probably benefit from taking a multi-vitamin (I do once in a while) I wondered what would happen if I conciously set out to create a soup or stew to build iron-rich blood.

There are many vegetarians sources of iron so that is not a problem. Did you know though, that by combining an iron rich food and a calcium rich food, you can increase the iron absorption? Iron absorption doubles with at least 25 milligrams of vitamin C. My goal is to reach about 8 mg of iron per day (the RDI range is 8 to 18 mg: younger women from 18-50 years of age will need to be in the upper limit).

My high iron vegetable ingredients choices include:

  • lentils –  ( 17.3 mg in one cup, dried)
  • quinoa – (15.7 mg in one cup, dried)
  • sun dried tomato – (4.9 mg in one cup, dried)
  • parlsey, chopped – (3.7 mg in one cup)
  • pumpkin seeds, (20.7 in one cup)

My vitamin C vegetable incredients choices include:

  • bok choy, shredded (32 mg in one cup)
  • cauliflower (46 mg in one cup)
  • kale (80 mg in one cup)
  • red cabbage (51 mg in one cup)
  • broccoli (75 mg in one cup)
  • green peas (58 mg in one cup)
  • bell pepper, yellow (273 mg in one cup)
  • avocado (from 15-53 mg depending on size and type)

Of course your list might be different. There are certainly more choices – flax seeds for instance are a great source of iron. But uou can make a lot of different combinations with these ingredients by changing the base, the vegetables, the spices and condiments. Condiments high in vitamin C include hot green chiles (364 per cup!) of course probably less than a teaspoon would be used in a recipe so it is minimal. Parsley packs a punch with 80 mg per cup.

Here is the Recipe I made today:

Soup Stock/Base
In a large pot I browned chopped onion in about a teaspoon of olive oil and when it became soft I added 1 clove of minced garlic, a couple of bay leaves and a tablespoon of dried parlsey. I added a half of chopped turnip and 6 chopped carrots and put them on low to cook until almost tender. You could puree this if you want but I left mine chunky.

Add to the Stock

  • 1 cup dry brown lentils
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomato
  • 1 cup califlower, chopped
  • 1 cup of bok choy, chopped.

I added the lentils, tomato and cauliflower to the pot with enough water to cover.  You could hydrate the dried tomatoes before adding them to the soup and chop – add the liquid you used to soak the tomato in to the stock too – but I just cut them up dry and tossed them in. Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. The bok choy will take about 15 minutes to cook so I added them last.


Salt and pepper to taste. 1 also added a tablespoon of lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of pureed chilpotle chili pepper. Here is how to make chilpotle puree by Alan Roettinger.


  • avocado slices
  • pumpkin seeds

Serve up in large bowls with garnishes on the side. This made enough for4 to 6 meals as a main course.

© Deborah Redfern 2012.