Carob is a plant in the pea family (a legume), and is often used today as a substitute for chocolate. The carob plant as we know it today is originated in the Mediterranean over 4,000 years ago. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and ancient Greeks highly valued not only sweetness of Carob, but the nutritional benefits the plant bestowed. It was so highly valued, that the word carat comes from measuring a gemstone’s weight in comparison to the carob seed.
Carob pods are dried or roasted and ground into powder, which is the form it is typically found in–besides carob chips, which often contain additives and oils. Carob has a sweet, slightly bitter, earthy flavor and has been used by cultures around the world for its flavor and healing properties. Locust beans are the seeds of the Carob plant, and locust bean gum is a common food additive as a thickening agent.
Carob contains antioxidants, fiber, and is rich in calcium and phosphorus which helps fight osteoporosis. Benefits of Carob also include gallic acid, which has been used to prevent or treat polio in children. Gallic acid is a tannin, has anti viral, anti fungal, and antibacterial qualities. Carob is rich in vitamin E, which helps stave off influenza. Carob also aids in digestive health, lowers cholesterol, and can help people regulate their body weight. It is non allergenic, gluten-free, does not contain caffeine or theobromine (both found in chocolate), and can be used as a 1:1 replacement for chocolate in recipes. It’s important to note that carob does not taste exactly like chocolate–it is typically used because of the brown color, which has an impact on how your food tastes. It can be found in any health food store, and is fairly inexpensive.
Carob contains 1/3 the calories and 1/2 the fat of chocolate, and is a great alternative if you’re sensitive to chocolate, caffeine, or just want a healthier alternative! Carob is often used in dog treats as well, and is completely non-toxic to our canine friends. I truly love the flavor of carob; it has such a rich flavor and is decadent without being over the top.
Raw Cherry Carob Brownies
1 cup Almonds
15 Pitted dates
1/2c Dried cherries
4 1/2 tsp Carob powder
1/2 Sun dried banana
3 Pitted dates
4 tsp Carob
1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste
1. Place almonds into a blender, blend into a fine flour.
2. Add remaining brownie ingredients–this may need to be done in batches. It’s best to do this on a low speed for the most part because it turns into a very sticky dough and is difficult for the blender to handle it all at once.
3. Place brownie mixture into a pan and press into the desired shape and thickness.
4. Add all the frosting ingredients to the blender and blend.
5. Pour/spread the frosting on the brownies and freeze for about 2 hours or so. It’s okay to lick the frosting off the spoon 😉
5. Take out of freezer, let sit at room temperature until soft, then cut it into pieces and relish in a healthy treat!
Also by Jessica: Why You Should Care About Water Fluoridation
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling