When we were last together, you’ll remember I was almost ready to launch into full child tantrum mode when my aunt did not bring me a decadent chocolate dessert and instead plopped down a plate of mystery carob cookies.
She told me to think of carob as the misunderstood stepchild. And the world views chocolate as the golden child. She said carob is unique, with it’s own flavor profile. Carob doesn’t want to BE chocolate, it wants to be its own form of sweet goodness. That’s why it is the misunderstood stepchild, because most people dive into a carob goodie expecting a similar chocolate flavor. The carob stepchild is one-of-a-kind, and will never be the golden child, but has unique qualities and flavors waiting to be discovered.
Carob has many beneficial qualities, but it is not chocolate. So, as I bit into the cookie, I was not thinking of chocolate, I was thinking of a new and different sweet treat flavor. And that is exactly what I experienced, as I grabbed another carob cookie!
Health Benefits of Carob
My aunt doesn’t do caffeine and she is gluten-free. She is also super aware of her carbon footprint and how her food choices affect the planet. So for my aunt, carob is the perfect replacement for chocolate.
Carob comes from the pods of a Mediterranean tree. It can be purchased in a powder form, carob chips and carob syrup. The major health benefits include:
- Naturally low in fat. One cup of carob powder has no fat compared to 50g of fat in one cup of chocolate chips.
- Contains less sugar than chocolate chips. One cup of carob powder has 51g of sugar compared to 92g in one cup of chocolate chips.
- High in fiber and gluten-free.
- High in calcium. 100g of Carob contains 34% of the Recommended Daily Value of calcium whereas chocolate only contains 5%.
Carob: The Sustainable Sweet Treat
This misunderstood stepchild knocks the golden boy off his pedestal when it comes to environmental impacts.
Carob requires minimal amounts of rain, only about 20 inches a year, in contrast, chocolate needs nearly eighty inches per year. A mature carob tree can survive drought conditions for years. The world’s water supply is not infinite. Finding crops that use less water will be key to our future sustainability. Win for carob!
Again, carob comes to the plate and hits it out of the park when it comes to human rights.
Chocolate production has a rap sheet a mile long when it comes to human rights violations and using child slavery in the harvesting and production process. Carob on the other hand is less labor intensive and is more frequently farmed in countries with better-regulated labor laws. Carob is also more likely to be fair-trade. Double win for carob!!
So, to boil down the carob conundrum, don’t expect it to be chocolate!
It’s a different type of sweetner that can bring a new nutty depth to baked goods, smoothies and sweet treats. Carob brownies are definitely on the list of desserts to try! When you finally embrace the misunderstood stepchild, you will find uniquely wonderful qualities that will tempt your palate and make you feel like a climate change warrior.
Daring and Delicious
You may have noticed that I am not as daring or as crazy as my aunt, but I am game to try new things. Like hiking up mountains, eating seaweed snacks, drinking kombucha and diving into carob desserts (I draw the line at frozen lake swimming!)
Even though I have eaten my fair share of french fries and chocolate, I do want to make an effort to change my ways; to improve my health and to help keep this amazing planet that we all call home, spinning for a few more millennia.
I am glad my aunt introduced me to kombucha, seaweed and carob. I am going to keep a lookout for these items at the grocery store and start experimenting with how to add them to my meals.
I hope the next time you are hiking or frozen lake swimming or doing anything you consider daring, you think of seaweed, kombucha or carob…and, you’re not in need of a helicopter rescue!