Why Carob Is Back In Vogue September 13 2014 by Simone Denny
Yes it's true - in the very fickle world of health, I can confirm that this season carob is back in vogue . I think the last time carob was strutting its stuff was probably in the early 80's . I grew up on fairly alternative Island in New Zealand and there was a fair share of carob in circulation during this time. As a naive chocolate eating child I couldn't help but feel sorry for those kids whose parents only gave them carob - now as a health nut parent I am guilty of doing the same.
I am an advocate of using raw cacao in my recipes as there are plenty of health benefits to be had from this antioxidant rich food. However, like many people I know I do have somewhat of a sensitivity to eating chocolate or raw cacao that I have been noticing more and more. For me personally, I often find I go bed feeling tired and wired if I eat raw cacao in the evenings (you will read why below). Others complain about headaches and migraines and in some cases muscle cramps......all the more reason to give carob a try instead.
So What Is Carob?
Carob comes from the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) and is a small shrub part of the pea family. The tree produces edible pods, which are actually legumes. When the pods are ripe (which is usually after about 1 year) they can be dried (and sometimes roasted) and ground into carob powder. Unlike cacao, where the beans are extracted from inside the pod, carob is from the dried pod and not from the nuts or seeds.
Why Eat Carob?
Many chocolate lovers maybe asking "why eat carob when you can eat chocolate?" It's true - carob doesn't taste quite as good as chocolate but there are plenty of reasons to make the switch. As mentioned there are numerous health benefits to eating raw cacao, which I have written about in a previous article - however it is not always suited to everyone (children are also extra sensitive to foods such as cacao).
Carob is caffeine free and although cacao only contains a small amount of caffeine, it is still a stimulant and in some cases can be allergenic. It is said that the compound theobromine (which stimulates the central nervous system) found in cacao also acts as a stimulant and can be the reason for feeling 'hyper' after eating chocolate or cacao products. Carob is free from theobromine, thenylthylamine and tyramine (commonly found in chocolate) - these are known to trigger headaches and migraines . Carob does not contain o xalic acid, which is known to inhibit calcium absorption . Dogs should not eat cacao or chocolate - dogs are unable to metabolise theobromine, therefore carob is often used as a substitute .
Health Benefits Of Carob
Although not as mineral rich as cacao, carob is an excellent source of fibre, is naturally sweet, is virtually fat free, cholesterol free and is a good source of calcium and selenium.
- Provides approximately 30% of your daily calcium requirements
- Excellent source of insoluble fibre
- Beneficial for gut health due to naturally occurring tannins (improves the effectiveness of certain digestive enzymes)
- Antioxidant benefits due to polyphenols
- Lowers cholesterol - carob contains polyphenols, which help blood cholesterol
- Antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-allergic benefits due to the gallic acid found in the tannins.
- Good source of selenium
- Good source of B vitamins - including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate
- Chemical free and preservative free
How to use Carob
Carob comes in variety of forms - most commonly it comes as carob powder, carob chips or syrup. You can also buy carob in a chocolate equivalent form. Although it does taste different to chocolate it can be used as a substitute.
- Replace cacao powder with carob powder in raw food or baking
- Use carob powder in place of hot chocolate
- Use carob chips in place of cacao nibs or chocolate chips
- Use carob in making treats for animals (due to their chocolate intolerance)
Here are few Nourishing Hub recipes you could try to replace the the raw cacao with carob.
Black Bean Chocolate Cake
Note: Carob is naturally sweet and is often used to replace sugar.
My current favourite carob product (and new to the Nourishing Hub) is the Loving Earth Luvju Carob Bar - made with raw carob powder, this delicious morsel is dairy free and completely free of added sugar of any kind.
You can also get organic carob powder here
On another note, it is spring in the southern hemisphere - hurrah - time to get the body out after a hibernation period. If you feel like you need a bit of help on the tanning front we're offering a helping hand with 20% off Eco Tan Organic Invisible Tan . A beautiful non-toxic product that works wonders.
Wishing you a beautiful rest of your weekend.
Simone @ the Nourishing Hub