Did you know that there’s a sweetener you can add to your baby’s food that actually provides some nutrients too?
It sounds a little too good to be true, but blackstrap molasses adds a subtle sweetness to foods and is an excellent source of nutrition in its own right.
So what is blackstrap molasses – and why is it healthier than regular sugar?
The unusual name blackstrap comes in part from its deep colour, but also from the Dutch word “stroop”, meaning syrup. Quite simply, blackstrap molasses is the residue left when sugar cane is refined into table sugar. What makes it healthy is the fact that it contains the nutrients that are “stripped out” during the refining process that produces white sugar.
Just look at the nutrients it contains…
If you’ve ever had cause to research the most iron-rich foods available for your baby, then you’ve probably seen blackstrap molasses on the list. Iron is – of course – crucial to your baby’s healthy growth and development and adding blackstrap molasses to your little one’s food is an excellent way of boosting his levels of this important nutrient.
We all know how important calcium is to our growing babies – not only for the development of their bones and teeth, but also for many other functions throughout their bodies. Blackstrap molasses is an excellent calcium source (you can learn more about your baby’s calcium needs and discover more calcium rich foods here).
Blackstrap molasses also contains…
Magnesium – another nutrient important for healthy bone development
Copper – which helps your baby’s body utilize the iron it receives
Potassium – which helps the body store carbohydrates
Manganese – which produces energy from protein and carbohydrates and also helps your little one’s body utilize fatty acids
Buying and using blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses can usually be found in most good health food stores. After purchase, you should keep it in a sealed container in the fridge.
It doesn’t look very appetizing – as the name suggests, it’s nearly black in colour and has a rather gooey texture. It’s not as sweet as regular sugar – in fact, it has a bittersweet quality (but do remember that your baby isn’t used to the sweetness of regular sugar anyway, so he should have no difficulty in accepting this flavour).
You can add blackstrap molasses to your homemade baby food recipes once your little one is around 9 months of age, or earlier with your doctor’s consent.
Blackstrap molasses is not a common allergen – but it’s always prudent to serve ANY new food or ingredient separately, watching carefully for any sign of reaction. With blackstrap molasses, the easiest way to do this is to serve it with a food that your baby is ALREADY safely enjoying.
Please note that sulfur is sometimes used in the production of production of blackstrap molasses – so look for unsulfured varieties to add to your baby’s food.
Add it very sparingly to your little one’s meals – its flavour is quite strong and it can be overwhelming if you add too much. Also, it has a mildly laxative effect – if your baby is constipated, then a little blackstrap molasses can be helpful in ‘getting things going’ – but using too much can have the opposite effect and trigger a bout of diarrhea.
Here are a few ideas for incorporating blackstrap molasses into your homemade baby food recipes…
- Add a little to fruit purees or to add an interesting sweetness to veggie purees (it’s nice with pumpkin or sweet potato)
- Use it instead of sugar when baking for your baby
- Use it as a sweetener for your baby’s cereal – stirred into oatmeal, for example
- Add a little to plain, natural yogurt
Please let us know if you use blackstrap molasses in your homemade baby food recipes and share your tips for incorporating it into your baby’s meals.