Carob products are making a comeback. Once considered the domain of eccentric hippies in the 1960s and 1970s, and a pale imitation of chocolate, carob is being recognized as a delicious ingredient in its own right that can enhance a lot of recipes! Let’s dive into carob and the carob recipes that might inspire you to use it!
What Is Carob?
The carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua, is mainly grown in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It bears fruit in the shape of a long, flat pod and its pulp and seeds are used for culinary purposes, as well as in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Carob’s popularity began to grow in the 1950s and 1960s when experts proclaimed it was a ‘healthier’ alternative to chocolate (we now know that isn’t true). Recipe creators and home cooks began swapping carob into all kinds of recipes – mainly baked goods and sweet treats – that called for chocolate.
You’ll commonly find carob in a few forms:
Carob powder is fashioned by drying out the carob pods, removing the seeds, and then grinding the pods into a fine powder. It has the same texture and consistency as cocoa powder or cacao powder. You can even try making your own if you have access to carob trees!
An alternative to chocolate chips, carob chips are typically made with carob powder, oils, and sugar. You’ll want to read labels carefully if purchasing carob chips, as many brands can contain unhealthful cooking oils, gluten, dairy products, and refined sugars.
Locust Bean Gum
Locust bean gum, also called carob gum, is a polysaccharide extracted from the endosperm of carob seeds. It has a thick, gooey consistency and is frequently used by food producers as a thickener and stabilizer in their products. Pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies also draw on these thickening and stabilizing properties.
Culinary Nutrition Benefits of Carob
Carob has many beneficial health properties! Carob is:
- Rich in antioxidants, which help protect our cells from damage
- High in fibre for digestive health, cardiovascular health, and blood sugar balance
- Caffeine-free (unlike chocolate)
- A source of calcium and iron
- A source of hydroxyproline, which helps us produce collagen
Research indicates that the compounds in carob can inhibit cancer cell growth, reduce cholesterol levels, help regulate blood sugar, and have anti-diabetic effects. It can also benefit the digestive tract, reducing diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, and ulcers. The fibre content of locust bean gum has been shown to benefit digestion, the cardiovascular system and have anti-cancer effects.
And a side note: unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs!
Carob Recipes Versus Chocolate Recipes
Carob has lived most of its modern life in the shadow of chocolate, often declared inferior and less flavourful. Carob has a nutty, earthy flavour and it’s actually very sweet. If you’ve ever tried cacao powder, cacao nibs, or 100% dark chocolate, you’ll likely have noticed that chocolate is very bitter. Carob isn’t – and for this reason, you can typically reduce the natural sweeteners you add to carob recipes or sometimes leave them out entirely.
Carob is often used as a substitute for chocolate, particularly in the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP). It’s nice to have the option of swapping carob for chocolate 1:1 in recipes, but remember that carob will taste different!
How to Use Carob
Carob powder is very easy to use in your favourite recipes. Try carob in:
- Smoothies or smoothie bowls
- Dairy-free elixir recipes (hot or cold)
- Dairy-free ice cream
- Gluten-free muffins
- Gluten-free cookies
- Brownies, cakes, and breads
- Homemade ‘chocolate’
- Energy bites
- Granola and granola bars
- Fudge or truffles
- Chia pudding or overnight oats
Due to its natural sweetness, we prefer using carob in treats and baked goods.
10 awesome Carob Recipes To Try
Loads of carob recipes for you!
Homemade Carob ‘Chocolate’ Bars
This three-ingredient recipe (with absolutely no sugar) allows you to experience the wonderful flavour of carob.
Oat Carob Energy Bites
An easy, no-bake snack for a bump of energy (or just because they’re tasty).
Superfood Maca-Carob Latte
A 5-ingredient elixir recipe starring carob and the culinary adaptogen maca.
Carob Chia Pudding
Paleo Carob and Tahini Seed Bars
A nut-free granola bar recipe that combines carob with one of our favourite seed butters – tahini.
3 Ingredient Carob Nice Cream
All you need are frozen bananas, carob powder, and coconut milk, plus a blender to whip up a creamy batch of homemade ice cream.
Carob Pumpkin Blender Muffins
We all like pumpkin and chocolate, so why not pumpkin and carob? These gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free blender muffins are soft and tender.
Creamy No-tella Carob Butter
Who needs that conventional breakfast spread that shall-not-be-named when this healthier recipe is around?
Carob Cacao Maca Truffles
If you’re not 100% on board with carob recipes, these truffles help to ease the transition by mixing carob with cacao powder.
Dreamy ‘Chocolate’ Zucchini Bread
This carob bread has a lot going for it: it’s free of common allergens, is grain-free, AIP-compliant, and full of vegetables.
Exploring new ingredients is an important component of culinary nutrition. We encourage you to give carob some love – you won’t regret it.