Plant-based Sources of Iron

April 17, 2014

Plant Based Iron Sources


Iron, along with zinc, iodine, manganese, selenium, fluoride, copper and chromium (to list a few), is a trace mineral. Trace minerals are only needed in very tiny amounts in the body. So little in fact, that all of them together would hardly make up enough to fill a teaspoon, cool, right?! (1). That being said, iron has a big role to play, so it is extremely important that we get enough (but not too much) of it. Hopefully this will be a handy reference for those who get asked ‘so where do you get your iron from’.

Iron is actually quite abundant in plant-based sources. When you look at their nutrient density – their nutrient contribution per kilojoule, they often far outweigh their flesh alternatives. For example, raw English spinach has approximately 18 times more iron per kilojoule than minced beef.

Iron is essential to help us pick up, transport and release oxygen in the body, and is stored in the mucosal cells of the intestine. If we consume too much, these cells shed and get eliminated, and when our stores are low, they increase their absorption.

There are two types of dietary iron, haem and non-haem. Haem is found in the flesh of animals, while non-haem is derived from plants. Of the two, haem iron is generally said to be better absorbed than non-haem. Good plant-based sources of iron are found abundantly in a range of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Getting the most out of your plant-based iron

Vitamin C is a useful ally in helping absorb many nutrients, iron being one of them. Research has shown that non-haem iron is absorbed four times better if there are enough fruits and vegies to provide just 65mg of vitamin C (2). Try eating both at the same meal.

Iron inhibitors

There are some dietary substances that have an affinity for iron and bind to it, making it insoluble – which now means it cannot be absorbed in the intestines. These substances include what we call anti-nutrients such as the phytic acid found in the hulls of whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Two other substances that block iron uptake are calcium (dairy products) and tannic acid (black teas).

A simple way to avoid anti-nutrients

If you can spare the time to properly prepare your whole grains, nuts and seeds, you will be able to increase the absorption of your iron. Soaking and sprouting will do this for you. Simply rinse your whole grains, nuts or seeds, then place in a glass bowl and cover with water, leave them to soak for an adequate time (overnight is ideal), then rinse and drain ready for use. You can take it a step further by going on to sprout them, which will amplify the nutritional bioavailability alongside neutralising the phytic acid.

Intake of vitamin C and minimising anti-nutrients is especially important for those of us with gastrointestinal diseases that can often make absorption of nutrients difficult.

How much do we need?

The recommended daily intake for men is 8mg, and for women 19-50, 18 milligrams.

Some great plant-powered iron sources:


Seaweeds such as dulse, kelp, wakame and hijiki are all excellent sources.


Includes spirulina and chlorella

Dark leafy greens

Parsley, kale, silverbeet, spinach, watercress


Black beans, broad beans, haricot beans, chick peas, lentils


Tempeh, tofu, soy beans, soy milk

Whole grains

Cornmeal, oats, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat

Dried Fruits

Dried Apricots, dates, sultanas, prunes, figs

Nuts and Seeds

Coconut flesh, almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds


Blackstrap molasses

1. Understanding Nutrition. 2nd Edition. Whitney, Rolfes, Crowe, Cameron-Smith, Walsh. 2014.
2. Conscious Eating, Gabriel Cousens, M.D. 2000.

The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, 2013,


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One Response to “Plant-based Sources of Iron”

  1. Maritza Pedraza says:

    very informative tks lauren

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Sugar Free Grain Free Banana Chocolate Bread

April 4, 2014

Banana Cacao Bread-6Banana Cacao Bread-11


Although I am a huge fan of raw treats when it’s time for an indulgence, this sugar free, grain free Banana Chocolate Bread is a great healthy basic. This is, of course, an entirely plant based recipe – yay! You’ll see apple sauce in the ingredient list – this is a common substitute for eggs in a recipe where you need a binder.


The sweetener used is Xylitol, which I don’t mind to use every now and then in small amounts. It is actually a plant based sweetener derived from the birch tree. It is often used in chewing gums as it has the benefit of inhibiting bacterial growth to prevent tooth decay. It is a sugar alcohol rather than a sugar, and has one less carbon than it’s sugar friends glucose and fructose. Having one less carbon is what gives it this antibacterial property.

Xylitol is a safe alternative for diabetics, as it has a very marginal effect on blood sugar levels. However, just because it is sugar free doesn’t mean it is free of calories – alcohol as you know contains calories so the sugar alcohols also contain a little (though far less than regular sugars). In excess, it will have a slight laxative effect or cause a bit of gas. You would have to consume about 50g in order to feel a bit off.

Sugar alcohols such as xylitol occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, as well as in our own bodies.

You can buy it as granules which look much like ordinary white sugar, or powdered, which looks just like icing sugar. Choose xylitol derived form Birch over Corn if you can.


Banana Cacao Bread


Banana Chocolate Bread

Sugar Free • Grain Free • Vegan

1 cup almond meal
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup Xylitol icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sugar and dairy free chocolate chips
3 very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 tablespoons apple sauce
2 tablespoons almond milk

  • Sift the first six into a bowl
  • Add the chocolate chips, use a whisk to mix them evenly through the dry ingredients
  • Mash the bananas on a plate with the vanilla, then add the coconut oil, apple sauce and almond milk and mash again
  • Add to the dry ingredients and mix till well combined
  • Bake in a lined loaf pan at 180˚C for 45mins-1 hour or till a skewer comes out clean
  • If it colours quickly, cover it with baking paper
  • Dust with xylitol icing sugar and shredded coconut to serve.


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6 Responses to “Sugar Free Grain Free Banana Chocolate Bread”

  1. I don't have xylitol, what can I substitute with?

  2. My next best choice would be coconut palm sugar, Low GI though not sugar free, you could get away with using less as it has quite a nice rich taste :)

  3. Maritza Pedraza says:

    I looove banana bread and the one in the picture looks so delicious I will definitely try this recipe is there any substitute to the baking soda and the apple sauce like chia paste?


  4. YUM… I do not do sugar or grains so this excites me

  5. To her core says:

    This sounds delicious! I have never cooked with Xylitol before, I'll have to give it a go :)

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Wednesday Wisdom: Alice Nichols

April 2, 2014

An interview series designed to uncover what it is that real, wise women are made of – physically, mentally and spiritually.

I met today’s Wise Woman, Alice Nichols, about a year ago at a David Wolfe event. Such a beautiful lady, inside and out, as you will see as you read. Alice is Director of the award winning site The Whole Daily, and is a Life Coach specifically supporting women to live well, heal their body’s and love themselves. Alice learnt for herself how to transform that place of darkness and fear into pure love, and this is part of what she teaches. As you read, you will see how she wrestled with alcohol for many years before taking her power back through love. Alice also has a fantastic programme called The Life Transformation Project, a 4 week immersion into mindfulness, meditation, movement and diet, to support women in looking after themselves and remove emotional blocks in their lives. I highly recommed you check it out! So, please meet Alice…

Alice Nicholls

Can you tell us about your personal special gift you have to share with the world?

I teach women how to live well, heal their body’s and love themselves.  This encompasses a loving and ‘present’ mindset, a cleansing, anti-inflammatory lifestyle diet and a heap of support for dream catching.  Women who work with me tell me they feel like I help them bust through a lot of blocks they have in life that get in the way of happiness and health and do so in a simple, loving and supportive manner.

How do you nourish your body?

I start by nourishing my mind.  I truly believe that that which we feed our thoughts with effects what we feed our body with and then what we ultimately become.  When I was younger I struggled with  self-esteem.  I put myself down and harboured negative thoughts, harsh comparisons and the belief that I was ‘owed’ by the Universe for coping through a tough childhood.  I had an eating disorder, I struggled with alcohol abuse and a toxic relationship with my body as well as inviting some seriously shitty relationships into my life.  Today I practice mindful thought over my consciousness, I look always to see either the positive in any event or for a lesson.  I know that I am the guardian of each moment in my life.  Because I love myself I choose foods that love me back.  I don’t eat chemicals, and I follow an anti-inflammatory diet 98% of the time.  No gluten, dairy, sugar or alcohol and few nightshades (capsicum, tomato’s eggplant, silver beet, spinach).  There is a strong history of degenerative rheumatoid arthritis in my family and when I was drinking heavily and eating a lot of breads and pasta’s I used to have to lay on the floor to do my stiletto’s up.  I was 26.  Now I move much more freely, though as soon as I so much as have a slice of pizza or bread, that is me in the morning on the floor again.  Food is really that powerful.  I wish that we could all drop the junk to see just how much we can learn from what our bodies do tell us.

How do you feed your soul?

I go to the beach and throw my arms open wide.  If I’m with my girls we do it together running wildly from one side of the beach to the other.  I read a lot of books from people who are creating enlightenment within their own lives and seeing so much synchronicity with my own.  I cook, or garden.  I earth myself.

What has brought you to your knees?

Great question.  I have had a 15 year struggle to try to moderate my alcohol consumption to no avail and too many times in my twenties I was literally in that position, on my knees, (why do we seem to do this on the bathroom floor girls?) crying or shaking with shame, guilt or fear at what I was doing to myself when it came to alcohol.  Or wondering what I had done to myself, or those that I loved.  I never broke down in front of anyone.  I allowed this crippling black weight to grow as I vainly tried to ‘be like everyone else’ or feign happiness with my life.  I looked to others to judge who I should be and I couldn’t figure out why I was so scarred, so weak, so ‘unable’.  For anyone who is in this situation, and I know a lot are, there is a battle waged in the mind on a daily basis that consumes creativity, love, health and life in general and hold you back from being who you really are.  There is only one road out of that.

What was it that pulled you back on your feet?

Love. For myself. Making love bigger than fear. If all decisions in life are made out of love or fear, and I believe they are, I made love bigger.  I literally said to myself daily “I don’t drink because I love myself”.  You could insert anything in there you like.  It’s the showing up and consciously thinking it that makes it happen.  Every single day.

What do you think the purpose of life is?

To Love.  Simple. If we could all stop trying to make it so complicated and make decisions from this point onwards we would have world peace.  It is that simple.

What has been your most humbling experience?

For 15 years I was so scared to share openly my battle with alcohol and my pain at not being able to control it.  It wasn’t until I decided to just get it all out there and share my story for all to hear that I got resounding applause back.  I’m not saying this to boast, I’m saying it because I was so frightened of this for so long and carried that weight, but on the other side of that fear was actually the most amazing freedom I have ever known. It leaves me open to receiving the best in my life and of course opens me to a truth I had been pushing down for so long.  That everything you want is on the other side of fear.

How do you deal with stress?

I practice mindfulness daily, in as many situations as I have consciousness enough to do so.  This is increasing the more I practice.  When an event or situation occurs that would make me feel stressed I ask myself something.  “What is the truth of the situation”.  For example, when I was stuck behind a driver at a light and got stressed that I was running late and angry at being stuck I realised that the only truth in the situation was that I was in my car in that spot at that time.  The feeling of stress, anger or frustration was actually my creation, not the truth.  That means instead I chose to own ‘acceptance’, looked to the sky and saw clouds rolling past in the most amazing patterns (I then got beeped for being the di*khead stuck at the lights by the dude behind me…)

We need to be conscious enough to recognise what is real and what is not, or our own controllable creation before we can be truly happy in our lives.  The energy that we put out into the world is what comes back to us in spades.

Favourite quote, mantra or affirmation?

This quote changed my life.  I share it with all of my clients and in The Life Transformation Project we live this quote.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

What is one pearl of wisdom you can leave us with? When you’re stuck with anything at all  -ask yourself , “What would love do”.

Do you have a recipe/remedy/words/art you would like to share?

Oh yes! These are my lemon and macadamia bars and I can’t make them fast enough for them to survive more than 2 minutes in my house.  They’re flavoured with pure essential oil, some of which most people don’t realise they can also ingest and can be very calming and healing.  I also use Lucuma powder which gives a delicious caramel flavour and is, of course, a super food.


Lemon Macadamia Nut Bars

Lemon and Macadamia Bars


1 cup macadamias
1/4 cups cashews
1 cup medjool dates (make sure there are no pits in your dates)
2 tbls lucuma Powder
6 drops (cold pressed) pure lemon oil
1 dssp tahini
Pinch of himalayan salt
2 tbls coconut oil


  • Process macadamia’s + cashews until a course powder
  • Add finely chopped dates and coconut oil + the rest of your ingredients and process until combined
  • Press into a baking paper lined flat tray (I use a 20 x 20cm one) and place in the fridge to set slightly.
  • Cut up and wrap for the kids or eat straight out of the tray.


…um….yum!!!! Thank you Alice! If you would like to keep in touch, you can find her here:


3 Responses to “Wednesday Wisdom: Alice Nichols”

  1. WOW, WOW, WOW. What a woman! Love is the greatest asset we have in life and absolutely agree and resonate with Alice's quote. I love the honesty and openness that Alice is brining with regards to alcohol and I can not wait to be apart of her transformation project. <3

  2. Thanks so much for having me on your beautiful blog Lauren. I really appreciate the opportunity to share my message. The place I have been isn't as rare as we would think, but the (super happy, amazing) place I am now is more rare than it should be. I am happy to be able to facilitate change in that. XX

  3. I absolutely loved this!!! Thank you, Lauren and Alice.

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How to Make a Crystal Elixir – a Simple Vibrational Medicine

April 1, 2014

Smoky Quartz_550


A bit of a different post today. I am making a herbal tincture for insomnia but have decided to first infuse the vodka used to make it with a crystal, to take on some of it’s relaxing and stress relieving properties. So here is a bit about how to prepare a crystal elixir and why they are special.

One of the simplest vibrational medicines that you can easily prepare yourself at home, crystal elixirs are waters infused with gems or crystals, preserved in alcohol (or glycerol). During the infusion process, the water becomes attuned with a gem or crystals specific vibration – it’s signature.

  1. Select a crystal, choose one specific to your particular needs, rose quartz for self-love, amethyst for healing, or simply choose clear quartz and infuse it with an intention
  2. Cleanse the crystal, there are many ways to do this, the method I use is to simply hold it under running water, and visualise white light washing over it. All negative and old energies will simply wash away
  3. Fill a glass bowl with pure water, spring water is ideal, avoid tap water
  4. For safety, as some crystals are toxic, leech minerals, may crumble, or may dissolve in water, place your crystal in a small glass jar, then sit the jar in the middle of the larger bowl of water. Place the bowl, exposed, out in the sun to infuse throughout the day. Alternatively, you may like to leave the bowl out overnight if it is a full moon
  5. Strain the liquid (it may have collected some dust/leaves/debris) through a very fine cheesecloth or even some filter paper, into a glass jar or bottle, leaving enough room to top it up with vodka or brandy, to act as a preservative. You want to have three parts of crystal water to one part vodka/brandy. This bottled mixture has now become your Mother elixir. From here, you can fill a small dropper bottle with water, and add a dozen drops of the Mother, for a handy, portable sized elixir.


If you have poured some of the Mother into a smaller dropper bottle, you can take 4-5 drops of the essence on the tongue three times a day. You can take the elixir like this for up to a month.

Crystal Oils:

You can also use this method to attune oils with the healing vibrations of a crystal. You can select a crystal for its specific healing properties, attune the oil, and can then go on to infuse the new crystal oil you have just prepared with herbs. Infused oils are a staple in making herbal balms, salves and ointments. The combination of the crystal vibrations with the healing herbs will make the final product a little more special.

See my post on Homemade Cold Sore Salve here, which used coconut oil infused with Chrysoprase.

Crystal Vodka:

I really wanted to infuse some 100 proof vodka with a smoky quartz (stress relief, relaxation and grounding) to use later in my herbal tincture for insomnia. To do this, I followed the steps above, making sure to place the smoky quartz within a jar, before placing it in the vodka. This is an indirect method of infusion but still effective.

Here is a sneaky peak of the tincture I am preparing, it still needs another month to infuse…


Passionflower Valerian_550


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Rawsome Vegan Baking

March 31, 2014

Emily Von Euwrawsome-cover_550

Hot in my little hands this morning is a beautiful new cookbook from Emily von Euw of This Rawsome Vegan Life fame. Emily is a student in Canada passionate about plant-based whole foods and shares a huge array of recipes on her award winning site. She has put together about 90+ simple, tasty, raw vegan dessert recipes – ‘Rawsome Vegan Baking’ – and it is truly amazing.

The book starts with a little introduction from Emily where her infectious happy-go-lucky attitude starts to shine through. Her message is a simple one – to spread happiness through healthy eating.

She gives all the tips and tricks you need to get you going, all of which are super simple – as this is the beauty in preparing raw foods – it really is so pure and unadulterated that the few, hero ingredients you choose really shine.

It almost goes without saying then that these recipes are pure health, buzzing with natural goodness. I was recently reading a few recipes in the morning newspaper and whilst they were photographed and presented beautifully, the ingredient list just about threw me off my chair! Condensed milk, butter, icing sugar, cream, dairy milk chocolate buttons, puff pastry and fruit (fruit – thank god for fruit!). None of this is to be seen in Emily’s book of course. She has given the gift of making indulgences easy, healthful and enjoyable.

The recipes include a wide range of cakes and cupcakes, bites, bars and cookies, pies and tarts, puddings and ice cream, and a few kitchen basics. A few things caught my eye that I am looking forward to trying:

  • Mini Beet Mousse Cakes with Sweet Cashew Cream & Spiced Nuts
  • Totally Tahini Cups with Coffee Cream Filling
  • Hippie Halva (LOVE that name!)
  • Coffee Creme Mousse with Chocolate Pecan Crust

This book is a-mazing. She’s a talented little lass, our Emily. And make sure you take the time to read the intro for each recipe also – you will have a laugh.

Quick! Where do I get it?!

You can order yourself some sweet stuff from Amazon here.

And pop over to Emily’s blog for a drool here.


Finally, a little tasty teaser for you, thank you Emily!


Raw Chocolate Cookies Sandwiching Vanilla Cashew Cream

These are splendid. I love re-creating popular sweets because many people can identify with them and get excited about a healthy version of their favorite treats. I mean, really who doesn’t love Oreos? I just don’t love their long list of processed ingredients. So, here’s a simplified Oreo recipe, full of good-for you stuff, such as oats, cashews, dates and cacao. Relive childhood fun and dip a couple in a glass of vegan milk.

- Emily.

Makes: about 10

¾ cup (68 g) oats
1 cup (175 g) pitted dates
2 tablespoons (15 g) cacao powder

Vanilla Filling:
½ cup (73 g) raw cashews
2 ½ tablespoons (50 g) pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cookies:

  • Pulse the oats in your food processor until they become a coarse flour.
  • Add the dates and cacao and process until it forms a semi-sticky dough. If it’s too dry, add more dates.
  • Roll the dough as thinly as possible onto parchment paper, then cut cookie shapes with a cookie cutter until you use up all the dough.
  • Optional: Dehydrate for a few hours, or until they harden—this will make them crunch like the original.

To make the filling:

  • Blend all the ingredients until smooth; you may have to add some water to make it creamy.
  • Put the filling in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours, until thickened.


  • Spread the vanilla filling evenly onto half of your cookies, then press the remaining cookies on top of the frosted ones.



One Response to “Rawsome Vegan Baking”

  1. Maritza Pedraza says:

    I found Emily's website through yours and so far I find her recipes awesome and delicious I have already tried a few

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