Monday, February 21, 2011

Chewy Molasses Bars (gluten-free, vegan)

What a weekend! It was 55 degrees last Friday and the 2 feet of snow melted to show us the grass again, and then yesterday it turned cold and snowed another 8 inches. Crazy Michigan weather! After about 4-5 inches had fallen late yesterday afternoon, I looked at my husband and said, " I need to bake something!" He was thinking..."why don't you take a nap and relax", but with a napping baby and a beautiful snow-covered yard, I was a good time to bake a treat. Of course, and who says it is not relaxing idea anyways. Having some warm molasses bars from the oven on a cold wintry afternoon is the perfect combination of rest and comfort.

I have still been thinking way too much about chocolate brownies. These bars will have you thinking you are going to bite into a chocolate brownie because of their appearance, but then you would be pleasantly surprised that it is in fact a sweet, spicy and chewy molasses bar instead. I love molasses. There is 500 mg of potassium in 1 TB of black strap molasses and it has 20% of the daily iron intake. So, molasses is a perfect nutrient for a new mother or any one that suffers with anemia or nutrient deficiencies.

In my opinion, molasses should be considered a superfood sweetener. Yes, it is considered a sweetener because it is derived from sugar cane and sugar beets, but instead of having all the nutrients stripped and refined away it carries all of the minerals and vitamins to naturally be absorbed. That is why I also love sucanat as a sweetener because it is very similar to molasses in flavor, but also it is dried unrefined sugar cane juice. Another great sweetener is coconut palm sugar that is processed in a similar way and has almost the same amounts of potassium, calcium and iron in it as well.

When I first started eating more whole foods I was so confused about if I should just eat NO sugar at all, or if I could have a little. I think that a good question for any person is asking HOW MUCH sugar and sweeteners you are consuming, but also as equally important is WHAT quality you are consuming. The body does crave natural sweets... and you may notice that if you have a balanced plate of bitter, sweet, salty, and sour that you will have a more satisfaction after a meal (which means less snacking). This is very common in ancient dietary structures. To have a balance of tastes to satiate the taste buds and the stomach. This was of course done with bitter herbs, sour citrus, or salty minerals... not with MSG, corn syrup and preservatives.

Today, I think it is a good practice to notice how much of certain tastes you are eating...maybe your craving for "salt" is the fact that your body is in need for more minerals... or sea salt. Or maybe if you body is craving sweets, you should resist fake sugar and eat sweet potatoes, molasses and carrots. It is interesting how our bodies maybe crave what it needs. Not always the case, but interesting to think about at least. I think it is true that women crave chocolate at certain times of the month for a reason... maybe that dark chocolate that is naturally infused with magnesium and iron that your body knows you need just a little bit to "feel" better. So maybe if you are feeling weak or lazy your body may be in need of some iron. Have that spinach salad...but then maybe think about how you could add more molasses to your life. This is all in theory mind you, but still interesting to think about. At least I think so... but I am a food nerd, so that makes sense.

Well, I better get to the recipe... it is pretty simple, but truly a perfect combination of sweet and spicy with the ginger and molasses. If you like molasses cookies, then you will LOVE these. I have fallen in love with them, and think I may have forgotten about chocolate brownies once again. So, I am happy... and so I must share this joy with you of course. I hope you try them, I know you will not be disappointed.

Chewy Molasses Bar Recipe
1 cup of buckwheat flour
1/2 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 TB of flaxmeal
1 1/2 ts. of baking powder
1 1/2 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
1 1/2 ts. of ground cinnamon
2 ts. of ground ginger

1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup of applesauce
1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
2/3 cup of coconut milk beverage, or other non-dairy milk
optional: splash of pure vanilla

Mix all of the dry ingredients together first, then add all of the wet and mix well with a spatula. Make sure to not have any clumps, and batter should be gooey and more solid that watery. Oil a 9x13 pan with either coconut oil, or organic palm oil shortening. Pour in batter and then sprinkle the top with a handful of sucanat, or other sugar like sweetener. Put in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Bake until the top is crisp from the sucanat, and when you use a toothpick in the middle it comes out clean. This is very much like a brownie batter and should appear like it when pulling from the oven. Then let 5-10 minutes to sit and cool before cutting into to avoid crumbles and breakage in bars. Use a clean unserated knife to cut, like you would brownies. They are a chewy bar to be enjoyed! YUM!
Update from my last post: I still have (2) ($1,000) scholarships available for one more week (February 28). This scholarship is towards the tuition of the long distance program to become a Holistic Health Counselor with Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I love the school, and could only recommend it to those interested and serious about health, balance and life.

This is a HUGE offer, and one they do not offer this great scholarship amount much anymore. So, if you have been on the fence about furthering your education, or finding something new and amazing in your life, then I suggest you check IIN out. Their website Or call them, and ask for Coach Julia, and tell her that I, Stephanie Laidlaw, sent you. That is the hook up to getting the discount and for learning the most there is to know about Integrative Nutrition. Also, email me or leave a comment so that I can help explain more of what I do, why I like the school, and answer any questions you may have bouncing around in your brain.

Much love to you today, as always!



  1. These look fabulous. I adore blackstrap molasses and it's nutritional profile.

    What can I sub for the millet flour? More (superfine) brown rice flour? Blanched almond flour? I was also going to sub arrowroot for the tapioca starch, too.


  2. M- Arrowroot would work fine as sub. I would sub either, white rice, superfine rice, or sorghum flour for the millet. I am sure almond flour would work too... really because there is already a combo of flours, most anything would work. Let me know what you try and how it turns out! :)

  3. Yummy! I will have to try this sometime! A question about baking with coconut oil: what kind do you use? I've tried baking with it before, and it turns into a big mess! I don't know what I'm doing wrong...if it's the wrong kind or I'm using too much...Any tips?

  4. I really want to try this. I am slowly trying to change my eating habits and am hoping that I will get to a point where I can trust my body to tell me what it needs and like you suggested use healthy alternative to fill that need. At this point, I think I need to be pretty faithful to eating healthy and then once I am on track, then I can start listening to my body for waht it needs.

  5. Becky- I buy my coconut oil from vitacost here is a link...
    and I usually melt it in a pan or microwave before using in mix. It is just like melting butter for a cake or bars, or you can soften like butter as well if you want to use with cookies or scones. I like using coconut oil because of it's health benefits for your organs and your metabolism. It is a healthy much needed fat in our diet. What seems to be causing your "mess" I would love to help if I can.. also google coconut oil and find out more about the ingredient...

    Amy-Sounds like you are on the right track for making choices about eating healthy and whole foods. Over time I know you will be more in tune with what your body needs. It is a strange thing, but it seems like it happens the more aware you are to your food choices.

    Thanks for commenting. :)

  6. Hmmm...I wonder if it's the kind I'm using. The only one I've tried is the LouAna brand from Walmart (I have a feeling there's something wrong with using that kind...just because I can get it from Walmart...Lol!) I've tried making brownies with it, and it doesn't really "set up" or whatever you call it. It even says on the container to use it in I don't know why I'm having problems. The times I've tried baking cookies with it, the cookies just spread all over the pan...and I end up with cookie bars instead! Thanks for your help!

  7. Amazing recipe and insightful, informative post! BRAVA!

  8. Becky- maybe there is something wrong with your coconut oil... it should melt and look like "normal" oil, or it will start to harden almost like butter. It is a great sub for butter because it is very similar texture and in sat fats. Also, are you thinking that the coconut milk bev I use is coconut oil? Maybe you are using too much liquid? I want to help you if I can.... let me know if I can :) Much love-

    GF Gidget- Thanks for the comment :) LOVE

  9. MMMMMMMMM,..what delectbale molasses bars!

    They look wonderful!! Pretty too!

  10. These look lovely. Molasses is so amazing, especially blackstrap. It's so deep and complex. I'm trying to remove refined sugars from my diet, and right now, to get myself weaned, I'm staying away from a lot of baked goods, but after a bit, I might have to make these. These would be a delight.