Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bars

October 22, 2015
Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bars - These moist, fall-spiced bars are filled with fresh apples, raisins, & nuts. They're perfect for snacking or dessert.

Bone density peaks around what age?

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“Playing sports, lifting weights, running, and almost any activity that moves a muscle will trigger our bones to lay down more minerals and get stronger and denser.  Since bone density peaks around age 30 (and then starts to slip away), the more we build in youth, the more we'll have to “spend later.”

Think of it as your bone 401(k)”   ~ Felicia Cosman, M.D., clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation

A couple of other interesting facts about bone health:

Hip fractures are more common than cancer.  A woman's risk for an osteoporosis hip fracture is the same has her breast,  ovarian, and uterine cancer risk combined(!)  Especially for those over age 65, a broken hip can be a life-altering event, for which many never fully recover.

We keep hearing that abdominal fat is really bad fat, and now research suggests it's even harmful to our bones.  Fat around our midsections is metabolically active and produces all sorts of hormones.  These hormones can increase inflammation in our bodies, with one of the results being

bone loss

A continuation today of a short series about calcium.

Part I covered the many great things calcium does for our bodies.  It also touched on two essential nutrients it partners with magnesium and vitamin D

How much do we need?

The Food and Nutritional Board established RDAs for the amount of calcium we need at ~ 1000 – 1300 mg per day, which is pretty easy to meet if one follows a standard American diet.

Given this, how can we rationalize the ever-increasing recommendations?  As a nation, between supplements and diet, we take in more calcium than most other countries (Europe and 3rd world countries have ~ 300 – 600 mg), and yet we have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

Certainly, many theories abound, although I have to wonder if it has less to do with how much we're ingesting and a lot more to do with the inhibitors and depletors of calcium in our bodies

Also, instead of approaching the problem with an eye only toward calcium; what if we instead looked to prop up some of its best supporters?

For example, the body is happiest with a ratio of 2:1 (calcium to magnesium).  Increasing the amount of magnesium is less problematic to the body, than increasing the amount of calcium, and just might do the trick.

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bars - These moist, fall-spiced bars are filled with fresh apples, raisins, & nuts. They're perfect for snacking or dessert.

Factors needed for absorption

We began the discussion about absorption in Part I with magnesium, as it's needed for calcium to be absorbed.  While it's a great place to start, though there's a bit more to the story

In fact, we're only able to absorb forty percent of the total amount of calcium that we've taken in.  For example, if you're at 1000 mg through a combination of diet or supplementation, at best, you're going to get 400 mg of that.  Therefore, optimizing absorption is critical

In order to optimize the absorption of calcium, there are some important co-factors.  We need Vitamin D in our digestive tract, where it has to be an acidic environment (think adequate hydrochloric acid).  Vitamin A and C are also needed, as they help with the uptake, and getting calcium into our cells.

Protein, we need some protein (but not too much)

Exercise, is there anything some moderate exercise won't help us with?

Fat, calcium also needs a little bit of fat to be absorbed.  Luckily, eating healthy fats is coming back into Vogue, but if you're someone following a fat-restrictive diet.  Note it could be an issue for the absorption of calcium

Calcium Without Dairy

Photo Credit: One Green Planet

Good Sources of Calcium in our Diet

Some of the best sources of calcium would be raw milk, raw cultured dairy, dark leafy green veggies, and sea veggies.  Dairy is good, although if it's heated, it causes problems because the calcium gets bound.  Therefore, pasteurization of milk is an issue

Certainly, there are many pros and cons when it comes to pasteurization, but in this case, it makes the calcium less absorbable.

Sesame seeds are great sources for calcium, but they tend to be high both in phytates and oxalates, so soaking will help.

The Brassica family of veggies is probably the cream of the crop when it comes to calcium and ease of absorption.  Think kales, broccoli, cabbage, collards, and turnips.

Sardines and canned salmon are also good sources; but only if they have the bones in

(ps:  An extensive list of the calcium content in foods is available online from the US Department of Agriculture.  Choose “Create Nutrient Reports” and Select Calcium from the drop-down)

What happens to our bodies if we have an excess or deficiency in calcium?  What about supplements?  Do we need them?  Which are best?

(to be continued .. )

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bars - These moist, fall-spiced bars are filled with fresh apples, raisins, & nuts. They're perfect for snacking or dessert.

The apples this fall have been nothing short of exceptional, especially the batch from my parents.

Some of them will find their way into a fun fall treat to bring along for the kids this weekend, my second time volunteering at our local youth recovery house

If you like your treats sweet, and moist, you'll enjoy these.  They're soft, almost doughy, with a texture similar to a brownie.  (If you'd like them to set a bit more, bake them a few extra minutes)

Full of cinnamon and apples, they're the perfect dessert bar/pseudo breakfast for fall.  We stored ours in the fridge, but whatever you do, warm them just a few seconds before eating.



ps:  You can read more about Calcium in Part I  |  Part III  of the series

— — —

~ Adapted from Family Circle | October 2011

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bars


  • 2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (the original calls for all-purpose)
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs (large or XL)
  • ½ cup butter, at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups diced apples (I used a mix of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith)
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • cup walnuts, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Line a pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, add the brown sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla until beat until very smooth (~ 3 minutes).
  • With mixing speed on low, gradually add flour mixture stirring just until incorporated. Stir in diced apples, raisins, and walnuts. With a spatula, spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into bars and serving.
Serves: 16
Nutrition + Show
Calories 280
Total Fat 8.5g
Saturated Fat 4.1g
Carbohydrates 46.11g
Fiber 3.8g
Sugars 32.8g
Protein 4g
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