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I have spent the last 2 hours reading your newsletter and wonderful recipes. I have already printed a whole bunch I want to try. I love them because they are using ingredients one has on hand. I love that and just wanted you to know how much we appreciate all your hard work in putting together this newsletter. Thank you very much.


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       Volume I - May 23, 2008

Flax Seed Bars
A Reader's Comment and Questions

by Alice Osborne

Reader mail is the best! Harriett Christeson wrote recently about the TJ Flax Seed Bar recipe we shared:


I made these bars yesterday. The ingredients list does not call for corn syrup but the directions do. I used honey as I really don't like to use corn syrup (but had no idea how much I was supposed to use). I didn't use the coconut oil as once again I wasn't sure of the health value of that. I heated them on the top of the stove, instead of the microwave, the consistency was more of a ball than "pour" onto the rice crispies. It was hard to blend them together. They are very sweet and more like hard candy than a bar.

Have you made these bars? Why do they call for corn syrup? What is the value of coconut oil?

Harriett Christeson

Let’s address her questions and comments one-by-one:

1) Corn Syrup — this was a typo on my part. The original recipe DID call for corn syrup, and I removed it from the ingredients list but forgot to remove it from the directions. (Please forgive. Will be better about proof-reading from now on.) Like Harriett, I don’t like corn syrup, so I substituted virgin coconut oil as the medium to help hold the ingredients together. Harriett’s addition of honey is also a great idea.

2) Virgin coconut oil — the health value is astounding: Coconut oil is an edible oil that has been consumed in tropical places for thousands of years. Studies done on native diets high in coconut consumption show that these populations are generally in good health, and don't suffer as much from many of the modern diseases of western nations.

Coconut oil was once prevalent in western countries like the United States as well. With a long shelf life and a melting point of 76 degrees, it was a favorite in the baking industry. But a negative campaign against saturated fats in general, and the tropical oils in particular, led to most food manufacturers abandoning coconut oil in recent years in favor of hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that come from the main cash crops in the US, particularly soy, and contain trans fatty acids.

These polyunsaturated oils were not a big part of the diet of previous generations, so how has the health of Americans changed now that polyunsaturated oils are for the most part all one finds on supermarket shelves across the US? We know the answer to this. In a nutshell, virgin coconut oil is high in MCTs/Lauric acid, has NO trans or hydrogenated fats, has high levels of antioxidants, and contains all the beneficial fatty acids, vitamin K, tocopherals, vitamin E, and traces of all the B vitamins.

3) Consistency — often overheating syrups will result in a product coming out hard. I left the syrup on the heat only long enough to get everything liquid, then mixed in the other ingredients. It still didn’t “pour” per se, but it was pattable and when cooled, nice and chewy—no hard candy result.

So Harriett, and all of you that may have tried this recipe, I apologize for the frustration I’ve created with my typo. Let’s keep trying this recipe and get it perfected, because the benefits of a healthy snack bar will be well worth our time! Just for fun, here are two more flax seed bar recipes to try:


1/4 C butter, OR melted virgin coconut oil
8 large egg whites, beaten
3/4 C whole-wheat flour
1/4 C ground flax seed meal
1/2 tsp baking powder (Rumford’s or other aluminum-free)
1/2 C nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 C rolled old- fashioned oats
1 tsp salt
3/4 C brown sugar
2 C chopped dried fruit
2 1/2 C nuts, chopped
3/4 C chocolate chips (optional—duh!)
1/4 C sesame seeds

(Yield: 24 bars)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 9x13 pan. Beat eggs and butter or coconut oil. Mix all dry ingredients (except fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips if using). Add flour to egg whites, combine then stir in fruit, nuts, and chips. Spread evenly in pan and bake 30 min. They’ll be soft when done.

  Download this recipe.


1 C old-fashioned oats
¼ C wheat germ
¾ C ground flax seed meal
½ C raisins
½ C snipped (1/2-inch pieces) pitted prunes
½ C dried apples
½ C coarsely chopped (unblanched) almonds
¼ C unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ C pumpkin seeds
¾ C rye flour (or whole wheat, rice, quinoa, etc.)
1 C cinnamon
1 tsp. b. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C virgin melted coconut oil
1/2 C brown sugar
1 large egg
1 C unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the cereal, raisins, prunes, almonds, sunflower seeds, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the coconut oil, brown sugar and egg until blended. Stir in the applesauce and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, stirring just until blended. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool until lukewarm on a wire rack before cutting into bars. About 24 bars.

  Download this recipe.

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