All you need to know about Carob!
You may have seen it in the bulk section of your health food store like I did, in the form of powder or chips, and wondered if it was a typo meant to be cocoa, if it was healthier than chocolate, or just what is it, where did it come from, and what is it doing in the healthy food bulk section??
Well I had questions too, so I researched, and I’m bringing my answers to you, along with an upgraded version of my black bean brownies!
First off, what is Carob? Carob comes from the pod of a tree that grows along the Mediterranean Sea. The pod contains a sweet, edible pulp. Once dried and roasted, the pulp is ground into a powder called carob flour (but more commonly referred to as "carob powder"). It's similar to cocoa powder in color and can be substituted one-for-one in recipes, but carob is unique with its own special flavor and texture. You may want to swap out your Cacao for Carob if you are sensitive to caffeine or theobromine. Carob does not contain either of these like chocolate does.
Carob powder contains less fat and more carbohydrates, which is opposite of what I would recommend in a diet transition. However, since Carob is naturally sweeter, using it in recipes lets you decrease the amount of added sugar you use to get the same amount of sweetness you would with cocoa.
Both carob and chocolate contain a variety of B vitamins, but carob contains higher concentration of these essential nutrients, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate. They are also sources of many essential minerals. Carob is particularly high in calcium, containing nearly 100 milligrams per ounce. Both are rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, but chocolate contains higher concentrations of each of these minerals.
Both carob and chocolate are also sources of dietary fiber, Carob containing 11 grams and chocolate containing 5 grams per ounce. I’m a big believer in the lower the sugar in our diets, the better! So use Carob in moderation. Chocolate contains about 8 grams of carbohydrate per ounce and cocoa powder 16 grams per ounce, but both contain 0 grams of sugar. Carob flour, on the other hand, provides 25 grams of total carbohydrate and 14 grams of sugar per ounce. However, many chocolate products may have just as much sugar or more added in, carob being naturally sweet doesn’t have all the additives typically. Carob boasts a significant amount of calcium—about three times as much as you’d get from cocoa. But cocoa has the advantage in terms of iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
Some other considerations when comparing the two that may or may not be important to you, but I’ll let you decide:
-- Most chocolate is not fairly traded. You can buy Fair Trade chocolate. Carob beats chocolate readily on issues of Human Rights.
-- Chocolate and cocoa products are high in histamines. People who are having inflammatory issues, such as allergies or digestive problems, should avoid chocolate; carob is much more tolerable than chocolate for people who need a Low Histamine Diet.
-- Chocolate and cocoa products are acidic to the body. For those people trying to alkalinize their diets, carob is a better choice.
-- Carob does contain significant antioxidant activity and more calcium than chocolate. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and trace minerals like iron and manganese. It also serves as a protein source.
Unsweetened carob chips contain about 70 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, with:
• 3.5 grams (g) of fat
• 7 g of sugar
• 50 g of sodium
• 8 g of carbohydrates
• 2 g of fiber
• 2 g of protein
• 8 % of the recommended daily calcium intake
I am definitely not saying one is better than the other. I love chocolate! And I’m just discovering Carob, and so far I’m a fan! They both have their health benefits, and their hang ups. So I would pay attention to how your body handles each and go from there. If you have no sensitivities like myself, consider incorporating them both in your life in moderation! If you know me, you know I preach a little chocolate a day :)
Here’s some tips I got from Whole Foods on how you can try incorporating Carob:
• Replace cocoa powder with carob powder one-for-one in your recipes.
• Or use half cocoa powder and half carob powder in your recipes.
• Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips in cookies, bars, cakes, muffins and candies. (Many of our stores carry unsweetened carob chips, too.)
• Carob can burn! Set your oven 25°F lower when baking with it exclusively.
• Got a recipe calling for baking chocolate? For each square, use 3 tablespoons of carob powder plus one to two tablespoons of dairy or non-dairy milk.
• Add a tablespoon of carob powder to bread dough to make a nice, rich dark color.
• Store carob flour in an air-tight container in a cool, dry pantry; if it lumps up, just sift before using.
And here's the recipe to my Carob - Black Bean Brownies: