Chocolate has been a long-term love affair for most of us. What’s not to like? It’s versatile, delicious, and nostalgic. However, there’s a new plant on the block that’s giving this classic a run for its money. Carob, a new arrival on the health and food scene, is quickly gaining traction. What, you may ask, makes it so special? Read on to discover.

What is Carob?

carob

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Although comparable to chocolate in many ways, this is actually a fruit from the carob tree. It is native to Africa and the Middle East, and has a longstanding presence in historical folklore as a prized commodity. Carob grows in brown pods resembling beans, with can be ground into a powder for ease of use.

Carob’s flavor is sweet and earthy with a nutty element, as well as considered similar to cocoa. For this reason, it’s often enjoyed as an easy alternative for those with chocolate allergies or who simply want a healthy, caffeine-free option.

Beneficial Characteristics

Another valuable characteristic of carob is its calcium content

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The perks of carob also set it apart as promising. Aside from being naturally free of caffeine (unlike chocolate), carob is also full of plenty vitamins and minerals. Some prefer switching to carob to because it is free of oxalic acid, which is naturally present in standard chocolate and may hinder the absorption of certain nutrients. In addition, carob is fairly low in sugar content but retains a natural sweetness.

Another valuable characteristic of carob is its calcium content, which helps the bones, blood, and heartbeat. It’s also a great source of phosphorus and selenium. These help with immunity and strength, among others functions.

On top of this, carob’s antioxidants include polyphenols which can help lower bad cholesterol and also offer digestive support. The fiber present in this plant makes it even more useful for the intestines as well as leveling blood sugar.

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How to Buy, Store, and Pick Out

1. Bob’s Red Mill Toasted Carob PowderBob's Red Mill Carob Powder Toasted - 18 oz

Bob’s Red Mill

Carob often comes in powder form to purchase. This makes it easy to work into different recipes you may have in mind. Since carob is rarely sold fresh, you don’t have to worry about the seasonal aspect of locating it or choosing the right one. This simple powder by Bob’s Red Mill is fairly easy to find at your local health store and is also good quality, with carob as the only ingredient. You can purchase this for $8.50! 

D. Ward said, “Wow – this is REALLY good! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far. I’m allergic to cocoa beans (all forms of chocolate) and this makes a great substitute. The taste is pretty good. The only thing that I don’t like about Carob is the grainy texture and the “inability” to truly dissolve. This brand worked best – it’s sifted very fine.”

2. Chatfield’s Carob Chips

Chatfield's Carob Chips 12oz

Chatfield’s Carob Chips

Alternatively, you can buy carob chips, which are great to substitute in place of chocolate chips for specific cookies and baking. Even though they aren’t quite as easy to find, these vegan options by Barry’s Carob Chips and Chatfield’s will do the job great.

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Brian Wilson loves Chatfield’s. He said, “Note: Carob does not taste like chocolate!! Carob is a pleasant tasting confection in its own right. However, if you are expecting it to taste like chocolate you will be disappointed. These chips are the best tasting I’ve experienced.” Buy some for $13.99! Or you can purchase Barry’s Carob Chips for $5.50!

3. Barry Farm Carob Chips

Carob Chips, Sugar Sweetened, 1 lb.

You should not have to refrigerate your carob products unless you live in a particularly warm climate and don’t want to risk the chips melting. You can purchase some of these Barry Farm Carob Chips for $5.50!

4. Missy J’s Carob Cups

Missy J's Snacktastic Pb & J Carob Cup. 12 delicious cups

If you’d like to give carob a try without having to cook anything yourself, check out these carob cups by Missy J’s. They’re a great way to ease into the flavor and discover its potential in a convenient (and tasty) manner. Buy 12 for $32.00

An Amazon customer said, “I can’t have chocolate & have been dying for something sweet and I was so happy when I found these peanut butter cups! They are amazing! You get 12 peanut butter cups so they cost about $2.50 a piece but definitely worth it to me!”

Ways to Enjoy

1. Coconut Carob Cashew Bliss Bites

One Green Planet

Although carob is situated prominently in the dessert realm, you can still get creative with different dishes. One approach is making individual bites that you can grab as a quick treat whenever the mood strikes. These Sugar-Free Carob and Coconut Brownies prove that satisfying recipes don’t have to be overly sweet or guilty. Another healthy option to take on the go is some Raw Carob Caramel Cups.

2. Blueberry Banana Ice Cream Cake With Ginger and Carob

One Green Planet

In the more decadent realm, carob is still ideal for creating those multi-dimensional flavors. Put a spin on traditional chocolate chip cookies with these Pistachio, Sea Salt and Carob Chip Cookies. The crunchy texture combined with its unique salty and sweet notes will make it hard to eat just one. You can go all out with a colorful Blueberry Banana Ice Cream Cake With Ginger and Carob for a special occasion. Although this tastes amazingly sweet, it’s also raw and full of nutritious fruits to benefit your body. On that note, this Raw Carob Coconut and Pear Cake is also incredibly heavenly, not to mention an impressive display of cooking skills with all the layers it holds.

3. Banana Bread Smoothie With Pecans, Nutmeg and Carob Syrup

One Green Planet

Another great way to cook with carob is in some special breakfast recipes. Start your day with a delicious Banana Bread Smoothie With Pecans, Nutmeg and Carob Syrup. Or, try making these Fig and Carob Muffins for a boost of satiating fiber and flavor in the morning.

All in all, carob is on the rise and deserves as much attention as it’s getting. If you still love your chocolate fix, don’t worry– these two can exist in harmony. Have fun plugging carob into your recipes for a tasty treat that will also do your body good. It’s important to reward yourself– you deserve it!

In the mood for more? Check out the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone devices, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook! This app offers over 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, with exciting new ones added every single day.

Lead Image Source: Flickr

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