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MOLASSES ADDS TASTE, CALCIUM

For February, my high-calcium recipe of the month is for Molasses Squares, a truly nutritious treat so sweet that you can serve it for a Valentine's Day party. It was originally sent to me by a reader who wanted to know if he could lower the fat in the recipe. The first time I made this recipe I used egg substitute and had a problem with the squares crumbling. I then tried it using only egg whites, and that solved the texture problem.

Then I started reducing the amount of fat and found that I could cut the oil down to one tablespoon from one-quarter cup and still have a moist texture by increasing the molasses from two to four tablespoons ( 1/4 cup). This increase in molasses also added enough extra taste and sweetness to eliminate the need for any other sweetener, and at the same time, added enough calcium to make it a much more nutritious treat.

To add still more taste, I toasted the chopped almonds to increase their flavor before adding them to the batter. The end result is a real winner. You can either cut your molasses treats into 16 squares (2 inches each) or into 64 squares (1 inch each) for bite-sized snacks.

HIGH-CALCIUM MOLASSES SQUARES

1/3 cup chopped raw almonds

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 cup dry non-fat instant milk powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the almonds in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch, they burn easily. Set aside.

Combine the egg whites, oil, molasses and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well.

In a larger bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the nuts, and mix well.

Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Invert the pan onto a cutting board. Then cut into squares.

Each 2-inch-square serving contains approximately 68 calories, 3 grams fat, 0 grams cholesterol, 54 milligrams sodium, 92 milligrams calcium, 9 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 1 gram fiber.

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