Beyond Gorgeous

A sweetener that keeps your hair from turning gray?  That’s just one of the interesting claims I encountered when researching blackstrap molasses — another in our series of sugar alternatives.

Another thing I didn’t know — molasses is the “waste product” of refining sugar cane.  You’ve heard a million times that sugar provides lots of empty calories with no nutritional benefit at all.  Yet, sugar cane is a nutritious food.  The sugar cane plant has deep roots that go far underneath the depleted top soil and get nutrients from below.  It’s the processing into white sugar that gets rid of the nutrients. What happens to them?

They are left in the “waste” byproduct — molasses.  Ironically, this healthy source of vitamins and minerals is mostly used in animal feed.

It wasn’t always so.  Until after World War I, molasses was the sweetener of choice.  Then a more efficient way of refining sugarcane was invented and white sugar took over.  The amount of white sugar in the American diet has been increasing ever since.

That’s a pity, since molasses is rich in many of the vitamins and minerals we most need.  For example, it has more calcium than dairy products, and it is paired with naturally occurring magnesium, which helps your body assimilate the calcium for making healthier bones.  Magnesium is also good for your nervous system and heart health.  One Web site explained in detail how a deficiency in magnesium can lead to migraines.

Molasses has iron in abundance, too — more than in red meat.  It also has B vitamins, potassium, manganese and copper.

Wow — no wonder molasses has been used as a tonic for years.  There are claims for it helping everything from constipation to heart murmurs.  It’s also touted as a help for arthritis pain.  Many Web sites recommended using it as a baby food sweetener.

But what will it do for your weight loss?  Well, it has about as many calories as sugar.  It does have a lower glycemic index though — 55, which just puts it over in the moderate yellow zone. It won’t help you to down a whole jar in a day or two.  In fact, since it is a natural laxative, it won’t be pleasant!  If you are going to use sweetener, though, you might as well as be getting some nutritional benefit.

There are many different kinds of molasses on the shelves at the grocery and health food stores.  It’s important to get unsulphered blackstrap molasses, which is the kind with the most health benefits.  Organic is best, because the cane syrup is boiled down three times to get to the blackstrap phase.  If the syrup contains pesticides or other toxins, they will be concentrated in the finished product.

The downside of this healthy sugar?  The taste.  It is distinctive and many people don’t like it.  Try working up to the taste by gradually substituting it for some of the sugar in recipes.  Also, using it in herbal teas which have a strong or complementary flavor might help.

If you want the health benefits — or just want to see if it stops your hair from going gray, you can try a tonic.  Here is a recipe I found for one:

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

hot water

3/4 cup milk


Put the molasses in a glass or cup and add just enough hot water to cover it.  Stir until it dissolves and add milk and ice.

You can also just down a tablespoon of it, if you like the taste and/or are sufficiently tough. At any rate, the health benefits are great enough that I’m going to try it and see how I can work it into recipes.

If you use blackstrap molasses and have a good recipe, please let me know. I’m not a good cook, so I need all the help I can get my readers!

Eating to live and living for Christ,

Susan Jordan Brown

Some days it seems like the cookies are holding us captive.  Temptation surrounds us and we can do nothing but fail.  It seems hopeless.

Elijah’s servant certainly felt hopeless and helpless when he looked out in the morning and saw the army of Syrians surrounding the city.  They were there to kill the prophet Elijah, and there was no way he could escape.

Elijah wasn’t worried.  “There are more with us than with them,” he told his trembling servant.  “Lord,” he prayed. “Open this young man’s eyes so he can see what You have shown me.”

God answered — and the young man suddenly had a different view of the situation. The horses and chariots were still there. The soldiers were still armed and ready to attack.  But behind them and above them he saw far more horses and chariots — and these were of fire.  The man saw the host of angels sent to protect God’s servant.

The lesson for us today?  Don’t focus on the temptations or your past failures.  Look above them to God.  He has all the strength and power you need, ready for you to claim it. The enemy has no chance with you at all!

Our prayer for today —  Lord open our eyes so we can see and know that the strength we need to reach our goal is already ours and that we can be assured of victory!

Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown


A big party was coming up.  I knew that the smart thing to do is plan ahead. If everyone else is eating high glycemic cake and with mounds of ice cream, I had better make provision for my runaway sweet tooth.

Time to try that chocolate mousse recipe I found on Pinterest. It’s made with coconut milk and sugar substitute.  This recipe has the earmarks of a winner.  The main component is coconut milk, which is nutrient dense but is low/moderate on the glycemic index.  The cocoa powder is very low glycemic and the alternative sweetener I used has an index number of zero.  And it is easy to make.  It also makes a great low-glycemic, sugar-free frosting.

So what went wrong with my plan?  It was so good I ate the whole thing by myself in one sitting.  Not so smart.

Here is the recipe, which I am keeping in my “winner” file. However, remember that eating too much of it makes it high glycemic and high calorie.  So don’t do that!

 Chocolate Mousse 


1 can coconut milk

1/4 cup plus 1 T cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

sweetener to taste

Put the coconut milk in a bowl and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.  It should get very thick.  You may have to drain off any watery liquid.  Whip in cocoa, vanilla, and sweetener and divide into four serving dishes or use it to frost cupcakes.

Thank you to for the recipe and the picture.

Eating to live and living for Christ,

Susan Jordan Brown

 This is only my opinion, but here is a summary of what I consider the best of the alternative sweeteners.  These are the ones I will be using:

5. Xylitol.  This sugar alcohol has about 10 calories per teaspoon, and a GI of 8.  It substitutes 1 to 1 for sugar in recipes.

4. Honey.  This is all natural, used for centuries, and comes with health benefits of vitamins and minerals.  There are 22 calories per teaspoon, but it is twice as sweet as sugar.  Glycemic index: 55.

3. Trehalose.  It’s good for your brain — and my brain needs all the help it can get!  It would have come higher on the list, but for the price and the lack of accessibility.  It has 11 calories per teaspoon, but is only half as sweet as sugar. Glycemic index: low/moderate in most people. This one was hard to pin down.

2. Coconut sugar.  This alternative is dense in nutrients and has a low GI of 35 while it has the same number of calories as white table sugar.  I will probably use this one for baking, since it substitutes for sugar one to one.

1. Stevia.  I may use others in baking, but Stevia is the winner for sweetening tea, cereal, oatmeal, etc.  While it doesn’t have positive health benefits, it does have zero calories and a zero glycemic index number.  It is natural and sweet without side effects.  Besides that, it is relatively inexpensive and you can buy it almost anywhere.

We’ve done the best and the worst — next up are the ones in the middle.  I hope my take on these sweeteners helps you make an informed decision on which is the best for you!

Eating to live and living for Christ,

Susan Jordan Brown