From pod to plate
For those who can't eat chocolate, carob is a delicious alternative with its own unique merits.
Although chocolate is undeniably the world’s most delicious superfood, not everyone can indulge in its intoxicating flavour. Many people must eschew cocoa due to its caffeine content and possibility of triggering migraines. Thankfully, ever-benevolent Mother Nature created a treat reminiscent of chocolate in the delectable, nutritious form of carob.
Carob is not only a safe chocolate-like alternative for migraine sufferers and the caffeine sensitive—research indicates it’s also a health-enhancing food we should appreciate for its own merits.
Carob flour (also known as carob powder) comes from the pod of the Mediterranean carob tree. The pod contains seeds, which are dried, roasted, and ground to make a fine powder teeming with both flavour and disease-fighting nutrients.
Unlike chocolate, carob has negligible amounts of fat and contains no caffeine. It also boasts significant amounts of B vitamins, potassium, folate, iron, calcium, and fibre. In addition, scientists have discovered the malty powder plays host to a bevy of phenolic compounds, including the renowned cancer fighters myricetin and quercetin. Not surprisingly, several lab studies have demonstrated carob’s ability to prevent and inhibit the growth of colon and cervix cancer cells.
The good news doesn’t end there. Carob has also been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and has even been touted by Italian researchers as a natural alternative to tranquilizers due to its anti-anxiety properties.
In the kitchen
Clearly, carob’s inclusion in the diet offers some amazing health benefits. But what about its taste? While carob is often recommended as a replacement for chocolate, its flavour is only somewhat reminiscent of chocolate. In truth, carob has its own distinct malty, caramel-like sweetness that can add new depths to sweet and savoury dishes alike. Available in powder form or chips, it can be used in myriad ways, as the following recipes demonstrate.
Before you begin whipping up your own carob-inspired creations, keep the following tips in mind.
Carob is so much more than just a second-class substitute for cocoa. If you are not convinced, try these palate-pleasing ways to incorporate carob into your diet.