Blog Main Archive - Mar 2018

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3/16/2018 - Blackstrap Molasses, Iron and Ferritin Deficiency, Menstrual Health, and a Yummy Dessert Recipe (Nutrition)
3/17/2018 - My slightly modified version of River Cottage soda bread is good even with blackstrap molasses (Recipes)
3/18/2018 - My imperfect modified version of a blackstrap molasses gingerbread cake seems to need a lot more spices (Recipe)
3/25/2018 - Do cows have better airbeds than humans? (Beds)
3/27/2018 - Spider silk: the ultimate material for an air mattress? (Beds - Ideas)


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Blackstrap Molasses, Iron and Ferritin Deficiency, Menstrual Health, and a Yummy Dessert Recipe
Friday, March 16th, 2018
16:53:10 GMT


Last modified July 4, 2018 at 12:18 PM EDT. (Fixed typo and replaced a broken link with an link.)

Blog Post by Apollia, owner and administrator of Non24.Com and Non24.Org

Disclaimer: I'm not a health care professional or nutritionist, just a layperson with some interest in health issues, and none of this blog post is intended as health advice. I'm just sharing some of my personal thoughts and experiences with things which I believe helped me, and some links to (and quotes of) informative articles, etc. I found, in case anyone might find this stuff helpful and/or interesting.

Here's this website's disclaimer page.

Here's a quote from an article titled 9 Signs Of An Iron Deficiency Doctors Say You Should Never Ignore:

"In fact, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, according to the WHO, which estimates that some 2 billion people - or 30% of the world's entire population - have anemia, which is caused by lack of iron."

End of quote.

As a 36-year-old woman with a perhaps above average amount of menstrual flow, I believe I lose a significant amount of iron every month. And since I have often had the terrible habit of neglecting to eat, or of not eating well, I suspect I often haven't sufficiently replenished my lost iron.

And I suspect iron deficiency might actually be the top reason why I've struggled so much with fatigue these past several years, until recently. (A lot more details are in my health diary blog posts part 1 and part 2 on my personal website.)

So, I believe blackstrap molasses might possibly be one of the best things I ever found for my health, since it contains a lot of iron, which I suspect I need.

My energy seemed to improve a lot after I started trying to consume about a spoonful of blackstrap molasses at least every few days. (At first, for a while, I tried to have it daily, but I guess I'm just not that fond of vegetable juice and soup. Also, I don't want to possibly get too much iron, since too much iron is quite dangerous.)

And, recently, after a while of mostly neglecting to consume blackstrap molasses because I felt so fine, energetic, and well-rested, and following my most recent time of the month - I relapsed a bit into often feeling fatigued and strangely not very refreshed by sleep.

Here's the article where I first learned about how important proper levels of iron and ferritin are for refreshing sleep. It's sad at first, but it has a mostly happy ending:

The Iron-Sleep Connection

I haven't asked a doctor about my iron or ferritin levels (or anything else, maybe since 2005!), so I'm not 100% certain my problem is low iron or low ferritin, but, given how my fatigue seems to correlate a lot with my time of the month, and given how much better I felt back when I was making more of an effort to consume blackstrap molasses and other sources of iron, such as beans - I strongly suspect my fatigue is quite possibly primarily from low iron or low ferritin.

Though, among other things, I also think Vitamin D and magnesium help me quite a lot. (Though I now try to avoid overdoing Vitamin D, and haven't taken Vitamin D in supplement form since sometime last year, since I suspect I might have taken too much for a while.) Also, this page says:

"When you're taking magnesium, you need to consider calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 as well, since these all work synergistically with one another."

Plenty more details about what I think helps me are in my health diary blog posts part 1 and part 2 on my personal website.

Here's a great video I found about blackstrap molasses and how it might help with menstrual issues:

How I ended my terrible period (menstruation): My Secret

And here's a great article I found about iron deficiency in women:

Iron Loss Explains Why You're Tired All the Time
July 10, 2012 from

And here's an important quote from that, warning about the dangers of excess iron:

"A person who feels fatigued should not self-diagnose and take an iron supplement. A supplement could obscure a serious medical condition such as a bleeding ulcer. Taking too much iron can also be problematic and dangerous as iron levels may build up in the body and cause major organ failure.

Chronic fatigue should be evaluated by a physician and iron supplements taken only after laboratory tests confirm the need for one."

End of quote.

Iron pills scare me, so I much prefer to get iron exclusively from food. This other page says:

"Most people don't need to worry about getting too much iron from food alone. Even the best food sources contain only about 5 milligrams per serving, and most foods contain less than 3 milligrams per serving. Iron deficiency is much more likely than iron toxicity from foods."

End of quote.

Still, I'm guessing it's quite possible to get too much iron even via diet, such as if you eat a ridiculous amount of blackstrap molasses and/or liver and/or beans.

So, I hope everyone will please be careful.

The brand of blackstrap molasses I use is the Plantation brand, since it has 20% of the "Daily Value" of iron per tablespoon. Also, it's organic, and made in the USA.

Surprisingly (to me), there can be quite large differences between brands. A while back, I tried the Brer Rabbit brand, and that was actually more palatable to me, but it only had 4% of the "Daily Value" of iron per tablespoon.

One major problem with blackstrap molasses is, if it's not mixed with the right other ingredients, it tastes quite vile - at least to me, and plenty of other people.

Until today, I only had basically two acceptable ways to consume blackstrap molasses:

  1. 1 spoonful of blackstrap molasses stirred into about half a glass of vegetable juice.

  2. Making that vegetable juice + blackstrap molasses into a soup by adding other ingredients like usually black beans or sometimes other beans (which have plenty of iron), butter, garlic, chicken, spices, etc., and microwaving it.

Both of those are quite surprisingly good, especially the soup (which I sometimes vary with slightly different ingredients and spices). Not just tolerable, but actually good!

But, due to having them so often, I've been getting a bit tired of them, even despite my slight variations of the recipes. So, it has been getting more difficult for me to consume blackstrap molasses as frequently as I'd like, to help ward off the debilitating fatigue I had been dealing with most of the time for the past several years until recently.

So, today, I tried out a slightly modified version of this surprisingly good recipe:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Blackstrap Molasses Breakfast Cookies

Thanks and much praise to its creator!

I was quite skeptical that I was going to like that recipe, since for me, blackstrap molasses (eaten by itself, or mixed with the wrong things) is horrendously bad. And instead of typical sugar, that recipe has only a banana for additional sweetness, beyond the significant amount of sweetness blackstrap molasses surprisingly provides despite its vileness. And bananas are usually just something I tolerate rather than something I particularly enjoy.

But, I definitely like peanuts and peanut butter. (And, happily, they seem to help my energy levels.) And this recipe sounded so overall healthy, easy, fairly quick, and possibly good despite my doubts, that I decided to try it.

And I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it actually is quite good. Even the uncooked mix was a lot better than I expected, though I definitely prefer the cooked version.

However, I did modify the recipe a bit. I didn't use vanilla extract because vanilla extract often has alcohol in it, and cooking might not remove all alcohol.

Also, I was a bit dismayed at how much dry oatmeal there was even after I tried to thoroughly mix the ingredients together (but maybe that's because I used a spoon, not an electric mixer). Anyway, to moisten it and make it blend together better, and also since I guessed it would probably help the taste, I added almost an entire stick of butter (partway melted in the microwave), and even an unmeasured but small amount of whole milk.

I didn't have chopped roasted peanuts, so, I just threw in some Great Value roasted peanuts, a brand available at Walmart.

I didn't have a baking sheet, so, I used this ceramic casserole dish, which I greased up with organic raw coconut oil to hopefully keep the cookies from getting stuck to the dish. It (and/or the butter) seemed to work! (It also was probably subtly good for the flavor, without making it taste obviously coconutty to me.)

My ceramic casserole dish wasn't big enough to hold all of the mix (which fit quite well in this nice big ceramic pasta bowl). So, since I only had one ceramic casserole dish, I cooked two consecutive batches using about half of the mix each time. And I globbed most everything together without trying hard at all to make separate cookies.

I also decided to cook it longer, since after 8 minutes, my version was still so moist and soft that I wanted to see if I could make it harder and more cookie-like. But, I didn't keep careful track of how long I was cooking it (and sometimes I forgot to turn the oven back on after checking on it), so I'm not sure how long I cooked my version. Maybe 20 minutes? I was tempted to cook it even longer to try to make it crispy instead of so soft, but I ran out of patience.

In any case, the result was astonishingly pleasing - a rich, but not overwhelmingly sweet flavor, good both with or without a little additional sweetening in the form of a little organic maple syrup, which only subtly changed the flavor. (Perhaps because I was using the mild-flavored Extra Rare early-harvested syrup, and only a quite small amount of it.)

My version of this recipe never did end up being cookie-like - it's more like pie filling. Next time I make it, I might cook it in some pie crusts instead of my ceramic casserole dish.

It also reminded me a little of baklava filling, but less gooey and less sweet - which I think is a good thing, even though I do like baklava in small amounts.

I'm guessing spices like cinnamon or ginger might go well with it, and/or probably other spices too.

I had to save most of it for later, since it was so rich I felt satisfied with just a small amount of it. I stored the leftovers in two of these great smoothie glasses with lids.

Since this is the kind of thing I only really enjoy in rather small amounts (like baklava, fudge, certain pies, and walnuts), I'm going to keep trying to find (or maybe create, or remix) some blackstrap molasses-containing recipes which I'll be more likely to want to eat frequently and in larger amounts.

Blackstrap molasses is far from the only way to get more iron in my diet, but, I feel like it somehow works better for me than other things I eat more often, like breakfast cereal with lots of iron. (I've read that milk might interfere with iron absorption, though I've also read that it doesn't particularly interfere, so, I don't know who's right about this.)

And I have misgivings about eating a lot of meat, both for moral reasons, and because I suspect meat from mistreated animals raised in horrific and unhealthy conditions might also be bad for human health in various ways.

Another thing I like about blackstrap molasses is its other nutrients besides iron, like magnesium and some of the B vitamins, among various other things.

After consuming even just 1 spoonful of blackstrap molasses (usually in vegetable juice or sometimes in soup), I tend to feel better and more relaxed, similar to how I feel after taking a magnesium supplement, and I feel like it somehow helps me sleep better.

My current top priority (other than overcoming my fatigue, again) is various computer programming projects.

And fortunately, the more my fatigue recedes, the easier it gets for me to make significant progress.

So, hopefully at some point I'll eventually get around to doing more with

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My slightly modified version of River Cottage soda bread is good even with blackstrap molasses
Saturday, March 17th, 2018
16:01:53 GMT


Blog Post by Apollia, owner and administrator of Non24.Com and Non24.Org

Today I made soda bread using a slightly modified version of a recipe from The River Cottage Bread Handbook.

There's a similar but different recipe, which takes longer to cook, on their website:

Soda bread

Thanks to the authors!

I never made soda bread before, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it, so I reduced the amount of the ingredients to roughly 1/4th of the original amounts.

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, then I mixed together all the dry ingredients first, in my big ceramic pasta bowl.

1 cup of flour (I used whole wheat graham flour instead of white flour), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder (which I wasn't sure was going to work because it had an expiration date in Feb. 2014! But, it seems like it worked fine).

Then I added an item that wasn't in the recipe. (Except I notice now that the recipe's variation section suggested a tablespoonful of "dark molasses", but I don't think that means blackstrap, judging by this page.) I put in just 1 spoonful of blackstrap molasses, because I didn't want to risk ruining the bread with too much of that foul stuff.

However, I found out recently that blackstrap molasses is actually an ingredient in some pumpernickel bread recipes, so, maybe the worst thing that would have happened would have been, my bread would've turned out a bit more like pumpernickel?

Here's my blog post on why I've been trying to consume more blackstrap molasses:

Blackstrap Molasses, Iron and Ferritin Deficiency, Menstrual Health, and a Yummy Dessert Recipe

Finally, I put in some buttermilk - at first just 1/3rd of a cup, but I soon found that wasn't enough to make all the dry ingredients moist enough to knead into dough, so I added some unmeasured but small amounts more, alternating between trying to knead it, and adding small amounts of buttermilk, until it seemed probably moist enough.

I mixed the ingredients together a bit with a spoon, but mostly kneaded the dough with my hands, which didn't take long at all. I shaped it into a somewhat oval shape about 2 inches high or maybe a bit less. I skipped dusting rye flour (or any other flour) all over it.

I didn't have a baking sheet, so I used my ceramic casserole dish, which I greased up with organic raw coconut oil, which prevented sticking pretty well - only a couple small parts of the bread got a bit attached to the dish, and detaching them wasn't hard at all. I used so much coconut oil that the bottom of the bread tasted a little coconutty, but I liked it.

With a spoon's handle, I drew some intersecting lines in the top of the dough and poked it in random spots. Then I let it cook for 25 minutes.

The result was definitely bread! Being so inexperienced with making bread, I had been afraid my modifications might somehow result in a dry brick, especially since I let it cook for a full 25 minutes (though the book had said 20 to 25 minutes) - but, it was quite fine.

Somewhat dense, and chewy on the inside, with a crunchier exterior. Bland in a good, traditionally bread-like way. And, probably fortunately, I couldn't detect the taste or smell of blackstrap molasses at all - neither its foulness nor its sweetness. It also didn't remind me of graham crackers, despite the fact that it was made with whole wheat graham flour.

At first, I was tempted to put extra salt on it, but, just putting a lot of butter on it made it quite good. It is still pretty chewy on the inside after cooling down, and the crunchier exterior is still good too.

It was pretty quick and easy to make, so I probably will make this again, though I'll probably make a larger quantity if my relatives also like it.

Or maybe a slightly smaller quantity if I'm making it for just myself, so I can eat it all at once with no leftovers.

Definitely a good, tasty way for me to increase my consumption of blackstrap molasses! Very easy, too. That was the first time I ever tried to make soda bread, and it turned out quite well, I think.

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My imperfect modified version of a blackstrap molasses gingerbread cake seems to need a lot more spices
Sunday, March 18th, 2018
15:49:11 GMT


Blog Post by Apollia, owner and administrator of Non24.Com and Non24.Org

Here's my blog post on why I've been trying to consume more blackstrap molasses:

Blackstrap Molasses, Iron and Ferritin Deficiency, Menstrual Health, and a Yummy Dessert Recipe

Today I made a cake, and I modified this recipe in a few ways, to make about half as much cake, increase the amount of spices, and remove some ingredients I didn't want:

Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake

And also this icing recipe:

Extra-Creamy Cooked Cream Cheese Icing

Thanks to the creator of those recipes!

For my modified version of that cake, I put in half the amount of most ingredients, except:

I was actually quite tempted to put even more ginger and cinnamon in. But, I was expecting this cake to already have quite a rich, intense, deep, dark flavor just from all the blackstrap molasses I put in. (3/4ths of a cup - equivalent to 12 tablespoons - and it sure was as slow as molasses to pour!)

So, I thought I probably ought to be cautious with the spices, to avoid possibly making this cake any more extreme. I definitely don't like to overdo ginger, especially, since too much of it can be quite spicy hot.

But, when I tasted it, I wished I had put in a lot more spices, because the gingerbread taste was so tantalizingly faint. Also, the cake looked so much like chocolate, it was also a little disappointing that it didn't taste like chocolate.

My version definitely didn't turn out fudgey, nor particularly intense in any way. Its texture is just like an ordinary cake. I wonder if the extra egg made that happen? Or did I get some of my math wrong when I tried to halve most of the ingredients?

Anyway, it was still pretty good, and will definitely be an enjoyable way to increase my consumption of blackstrap molasses over the next several days.

Whenever I make anything with blackstrap molasses that I haven't ever made before, I'm always half-expecting a quite noxious result, because raw blackstrap molasses is one of the most foul-seeming yet edible substances I know of. (Though I recently discovered that uncooked buttermilk is pretty disagreeable too.)

But this cake wasn't bad at all. I wouldn't describe it as bitter, and in a blind taste test, I probably never would have guessed it even had so much (or maybe any) blackstrap molasses in it. Astonishingly, this actually just seems like a normal cake, with a nice, moist, normal cake texture, and a far more mild flavor than I was expecting.

I'm having a hard time deciding if it needs more sugar or not - I'd almost describe it as semi-sweet, but I think actually it's closer to being almost, but maybe just short of, sweet enough. Or maybe quite sweet enough, depending on my mood. I often actually like not being overwhelmed by excessive sweetness.

I wonder if the non-overwhelming level of sweetness is another result of the extra egg, or maybe I lost too much blackstrap molasses when I didn't try a bit harder to scrape more of it out of my mixing bowl.

If I ever make this cake again, I will definitely use a lot more spices, and maybe I will try using just one egg next time. And maybe a little bit more brown sugar. Also, I think I'd rather make an even smaller quantity of cake, because I think I prefer eating such things fresh-baked.

I guess what would make this cake more convenient to make would be, mixing all the dry ingredients together in advance and storing that mix, so whenever I want to make some cake, I won't have to measure and mix as many different ingredients, since part of the work will already have been done.

Having two ceramic pasta bowls to mix stuff in was convenient, and fortunately, all the mixed together ingredients ended up fitting perfectly in my ceramic casserole dish. As usual, I greased the casserole dish with organic raw coconut oil, which successfully prevented the cake from sticking to the dish at all.

For the icing, I used only 1 bar of cream cheese, but I didn't halve the other ingredients, and I used powdered sugar instead of ordinary white sugar, and no vanilla.

I'm definitely not usually a fan of mixing cheeses and cakes, so, predictably, I wasn't super-thrilled by it. But it was good enough, and definitely better than having no icing at all. It tasted pretty much how I'd expect cream cheese mixed with boiled milk, sugar, and flour to taste.

Another topping I liked for this cake was some of this organic maple syrup. (Though I think I'd prefer one of the stronger-flavored later-harvested syrups like this one, or maybe this one which I haven't yet tried.) And some extra ginger and cinnamon.

I might make this again someday, but I will definitely be adding a lot more ginger and cinnamon next time, and I should probably use a cheeseless icing.

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Do cows have better airbeds than humans?
Sunday, March 25th, 2018
02:39:06 GMT


Blog Post by Apollia, owner and administrator of Non24.Com and Non24.Org

Back in January, I tried this $25 air mattress.

Unfortunately, that first one was accidentally punctured by me lying on top of some hard granola bar crumbs.

I recently got a second one, and this time, I took the precaution of covering it with a sheet. But, I think I may have accidentally overinflated it, so that one's useless now too.

And I found out too late that I probably should have tried to sandpaper away the fuzzy material on the top side of the mattress where the holes appeared, before trying to apply the single patch each airbed came with. Oh, well.

I miss my airbeds, since I think they were the most comfortable mattresses I ever used - even better than a friend's waterbed.

But, after reading this scary article, I'm sort of glad to be rid of them, even though I'm not sure whether my airbeds were actually made of bad materials or not. They definitely had a strong smell when I first got them, though that mostly went away in maybe a few days:

Are You Sleeping on a Toxic Air Mattress?
June 2013 -

I'm even more skittish about the possible toxins in the kinds of glue often used to fix air mattresses, so, repairing them with superglue or something is unfortunately not an option for me. And duct tape didn't work.

I guess my ideal airbed would be made of definitely safe, non-toxic, unsmelly materials, and would be practically indestructible, and even impervious to cat claws.

I have an office chair which is amazingly resistant to cat claws - even tremendously more resistant than my cat's mostly shredded scratching post which was specifically made for cats.

My cat loves that office chair, and I'm sure a huge king-size airbed covered in the same material would probably delight him.

I wonder if perhaps these cow airbeds are more durable than most or all available human airbeds? They must be extremely durable if they can survive a cow laying on them.

I wish someone would make human airbeds which are that durable, and yet as comfortable as my former airbeds. And which my cat can enjoy too without destroying it. I definitely can't keep buying $25 airbeds that lasted maybe a month (1st one) or perhaps a couple of weeks (2nd one).

I think it's really sweet that some people care so much about cows as to create, sell, or buy cow airbeds.

Heartfelt applause to all the makers, sellers, and buyers of cow airbeds!

And I believe if they ever start selling an incredibly durable yet comfortable human airbed made of good, safe, healthy materials, that might have an extremely good chance of becoming the most popular product in the human airbed market.

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Spider silk: the ultimate material for an air mattress?
Tuesday, March 27th, 2018
20:30:59 GMT


Blog Post by Apollia, owner and administrator of Non24.Com and Non24.Org

I'm still missing my now-useless way too fragile airbeds, which I already wrote about in this previous blog post.

I miss them so much that if I were rich, I might actually seriously pursue the whim of getting into the air bed business to try to figure out how to make the best, most truly durable air beds humankind has ever known.

TRULY durable - not "durable" in marketer language, which probably too often translates to "pathetically fragile" in good, honest English.

But, since I'm not rich, I'm probably just going to publicly daydream about my ideal air bed, and share this possibly good idea I thought of today.

Totally ignoring the issues of cost and profitability, I tried to brainstorm whatever I, as a layperson (with sometimes a lot of interest in scientific topics) could think of that might possibly work.

Other than rubber (an idea I'm not sure I like, since rubber has a smell, and rubber tires wear out eventually), spider silk was one of the first specific ideas to pop into my mind.

I think I heard or read in the news many years ago that spider silk is reputed to somehow be as strong as steel.

So, might it work for an air bed?

This article makes me think the answer might be yes:

Could parachutes soon be made out of spider webs? Arachnids fed graphene spin webs 5X stronger that can carry a human and are as durable as bulletproof Kevlar
Sept. 3, 2017 from

If specially-prepared spider silk is good enough for parachutes, maybe it would be good enough to prevent an airbed from so easily acquiring holes, tears, or a distorted stretched shape?

Here's another interesting page:

Spider Silk | Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

I really wish I were rich, because if I were, nothing would be stopping me from dropping everything and trying to figure out if a spider silk air bed (or any other probably untried possibly plausible material for an air bed) is a truly feasible, good idea or not.

But, since I'm not rich, and there are many other things besides air bed creation that I need to get done, I'm just writing this blog post.

And hoping someone rich (or exceptionally motivated) will create such an air bed, and maybe send me a free one, or better yet, a reward of lots of money for giving them such a (hopefully) wonderful idea that might make them rich(er).

A gal can dream...

...and keep pointing out her donations and microdonations page. :-)

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