Last week I got into what carob is exactly and how it is similar to cocoa powder. Today I want to look at why you would want to replace chocolate or cacao in your diet with carob. There are actually many health benefits to carob and reasons why you should consider reaching for carob powder instead of cocoa.
Some people have a sensitivity to caffeine or want to avoid it completely for other reasons, which is understandable. Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs on the planet and you can get physically addicted to it, albeit mildly. Carob is naturally sweet like cacao, and can be used in place of cacao in your recipes while providing a similar texture or “mouthfeel” as all the foodies say.
In terms of nutrition, carob provides a number of vitamins and nutrients. Carob is packed with vitamins A, B1, and B2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. It contains no fat, no saturated fat, and no cholesterol. However, carob powder has double the amount of calories compared to cocoa powder (25 vs. 12 per tablespoon) and twice the amount of carbs (6g vs. 3g.) But, the bitterness of cocoa is typically softened with butter and sugar, making it much less healthy. This isn’t needed with carob powder.
Carob is also known to ease upset stomachs. If you have an queasy stomach, try mixing in a tablespoon or two of carob powder in your smoothie. It can help when you’re suffering from diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Of course, you can mix it in with your smoothies or substitute it in place of cocoa in your recipes even when you’re not feeling under the weather.
Steve Maxwell was on Joe Rogan’s podcast recently and one of the things he mentioned was carob. He talked about how he would buy carob bars, but also that he found carob on the ground and ate it. That’s all well and good, if not a bit strange, but what exactly is carob?
Carob is a member of the pea family and if you look over to the right, you’ll see a picture of carob pods. They looks a lot like dried out, brown pea pod would. But we don’t serve carob at Thanksgiving dinners as a side dish like we would peas. In fact, carob is linked to chocolate in many ways, usually with health food nuts who use it as a substitute for chocolate.
But carob is not chocolate, it doesn’t have the texture of chocolate, and it doesn’t taste quite like chocolate either. I think the reason that carob is linked with chocolate is because when it’s processed into a powder, it resembles cocoa very much.
Powdered carob is created when the pod is dried out, the inedible seeds are scooped out, and then the pulp inside the carob pod is roasted and ground up.
So why is carob and cocoa linked to each other? Well, both come from tropical pods. Both are sweet, though in different ways. Both also have their pros and cons in terms of health benefits. People like that chocolate has caffeine to give them a boost, but carob contains no caffeine. Both do not contain cholesterol or saturated fat, but cocoa contains fat while carob does not, and cocoa also has less protein.
Carob can be used as a substitute for cocoa as both are sweet powders. Though you’ll want to double the amount of carob you use in a smoothie, for instance, as the flavor isn’t as strong as cocoa.
Give it a try in your next smoothie!