Fun fact: one of my lesser known nicknames is “Sweet Sassy Molassie” (which apparently comes from an SNL skit with Ray Romano).

Before writing this post, I had no idea where molasses actually came from. All I knew was that it works well in a lot of recipes (and is especially popular in the fall/winter seasons in pumpkin and gingerbread related recipes), and that it’s thick and viscous, to the point where it barely moves.

According to Wellness Mama, “molasses is the byproduct of the sugarcane refining process. When sugar cane is mashed and boiled, cane syrup is created. A second boiling yields molasses and a third leaves blackstrap molasses.” Blackstrap is considered the healthiest version as a result of the third round of refining. It’s not as sweet as the others (why is it that the healthiest things are never the sweetest?? Unless we’re talking fruit…)

While I’ve been using molasses as an add-in ingredient to berry-fruit mixes for a few years now, I had just assumed it was a “lesser of the evils” type of sweetener. While that is true, I hadn’t realized the extent of the health benefits (to reiterate, I’m referring to blackstrap molasses here). Little did I know that I was gaining benefits such as muscle and bone health, extra iron, and getting a healthy dose of essential vitamins and minerals. Here’s the breakdown of what I’m most impressed by:

Health Benefits

Sweetener. Okay, so a food’s sweetening capabilities isn’t necessarily the best indicator of it’s health benefits, but hear me out. Although molasses comes from sugarcane, it is digested at a slower rate, making it easier to handle for those with diabetes. In other words, because it naturally gets processed slower by the body, it’s less likely to throw our blood sugar levels in a tailspin. (Source: Healthline)

Iron.  (1 serving/5 tablespoons has about 95% daily value…wut). I was vegetarian for about 2 years and started including molasses in my breakfast and dessert mixes to make sure I was getting enough iron. One reason was that I needed to find something cheaper and not as addicting as almond butter, and while almond butter will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach), molasses does scratch that itch. Plus, as someone who has historically had issues with anemia, this is an easy solution to my problem, and it doesn’t have the same side effects that I’ve dealt with in supplements.

Calcium & Magnesium & Potassium.  While these three are obviously all different, they have similar functions when it comes to molasses. Magnesium helps keep muscles happy by preventing things like muscle spasms, and potassium is known for keeping muscles happy as well (that’s why people recommend eating more bananas if you get Charlie Horses often). Calcium also plays a role in happy muscles by helping them contract, and in combination with Potassium helps form blood clots faster when you get a cut (source: Natural Life Energy).  That, and calcium is well known for it’s effect on bone health.

Antioxidant. That’s right, Molasses also has antioxidant properties. If you’re looking for a sweetener that does more, molasses is pretty much a one-stop shop. (source: Livestrong). I usually ate most of my molasses in the winter, when I generally had it on hand for baking purposes anyway (I’m really into pumpkin desserts but will wait until it’s ‘seasonally appropriate’…i.e September-as long as I can get away with it before my family gets sick of it). Anyway, the seasonal recipe usage lines up perfectly with cold/flu season, and for a couple years I ran marathons in October, so molasses did me a favor during training and taper.

Recipes

Molasses Spice Energy Bites from Veggie Primer

Gingerbread Smoothie from Root and Revel

Peanut Butter Blackstrap Muffins from Connoisseurus Veg

Broiled Salmon with Molasses Glaze from Jessica Gavin

Ancient Grain & Brussel Sprout Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing from Coffee and Crayons

Homemade BBQ Sauce from Glue and Glitter

Molasses Cookies with Maple Cream Filling from Thriving on Paleo

There are so many awesome molasses recipes out there! What’s your favorite molasses recipe?

Ingredient of the Week: Molasses
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