Brain Fuel Coconut Squares

This is a staple recipe for summer (or winter) adventures that even the more skeptic people will like.  It's like a macaroon meets a energy bar. I always tend to stick to a low sugar content, so if you and your family have a sweet tooth, feel free to add more maple syrup or use chocolate chips instead of cacao nibs. Go ahead and make these delicious gems for the long weekend- you can even get patriotic and put goji berries for some Canadian flare. Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!

Even if you have been living under a rock for the last decade you will have heard about the many benefits of coconut oil.  This saturated fat is a powerhouse of nutrients.  Wait a minute, did I just say that it was a saturated fat, and it is healthy? Sure did.  Over the last 50-60 years we have heard saturated fat leads to heart disease, obesity, elevated cholesterol and even Alzheimer’s!  (Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.) The thing about fats we must understand now is that not all fats are created equally.  Key word being “created”.  While other saturated fats occur naturally the dangerous saturated fats are MAN-made and MANipuated into a saturated state called hydrogenation (where unsaturated fats are made into saturated fats yielding a rancid, thickened oil that only profits processed food shelf life). 

Hydrogenated fats like margarine or some peanut butters (trans fats as you might know them) were once deemed “heart healthy fats” but discovered as the enemy to good health.  Now just because this artificially manipulated saturated fat was labelled dangerous, than all saturated fats are bad right? Wrong? That would be like saying ketchup is just as good for you as tomatoes.

It takes us back to the whole food principle.  Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed, unrefined and are free from additives or other artificial substances.  They are foods found and consumed the way mother nature intended.  Natural occurring saturated fats are found in chocolate (coco butter), nuts, coconut, and animal fats like fish and butter, just to name a few.  Coconut oil in particular is the star of this bar. 

Coconut oil contains a saturated fat called MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides).  Our bodies send these medium chained fatty acids straight to our liver to be converted into energy acting like a carbohydrate with zero blood sugar spike.  50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is another saturated fat called lauric acid, rarely found in nature, that acts in the body as a virus and germ destroyer therefore anti-viral and anti-fungal.  Like other natural foods such as honey or maple syrup coconut oil does not go rancid! Great news for these Fernie Power Bars longevity…however they won’t last long due to popularity.  These are just a few of the many benefits of coconut oil. 

A word of caution.  Just because this oil is great doesn’t mean there are poorly processed coconut oils out there.  When buying them please look for the words like cold pressed, unrefined, virgin and organic.  This will guarantee the nutrients have not been altered or affected in the making.

If your day is full of spontaneous or planned adventures or even a lull in your afternoon energy, the Fernie POW’r Bar is a staple. 

Find this and other great articles in the Fernie Fix Magazine!

Fernie POW’r Bar (also known as crack bars)

Makes 25 squares

  • 2¾ Cups shredded coconut
  • 1 Cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract   
  • A generous pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips

Prepare a 9X9 (or 8X8) baking pan lined with parchment paper. 

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips/cacao nibs in a large bowl and mix well.  Using a spatula place mixture in the pan pressing it down so it is evenly distributed.

Spread the cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips across the top and with your spatula press them in so the top is relatively flat.

Freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 1 hour until set. 

Pop the parchment out of the pan and cut into 25 squares on a cutting board.

Store in a container in the fridge or freezer.

You can get creative and add things like goji berries, coco powder (you will need to add more sweetener), or other nuts and seeds. If you do, take it off the amount of shredded coconut to keep the same ratio.