Satisfy your sweet tooth with carob – includes recipes

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Carob

Pity the poor carob. A Mediterranean legume worthy of its own reputation, it is known mainly for what it is not — chocolate. It has, in fact, enjoyed some popularity among health-conscious Americans by virtue of not being chocolate.

Carob does have a number of advantages over chocolate. Because it contains fewer allergenic properties, it can be used by people sensitive to chocolate. It also is low in sodium and high in potassium making it desirable for diets used to treat congestive heart failure and hypertension. Carob also contains no caffeine and is lower in fat and calories than chocolate.

In Biblical times carob may have suffered a case of mistaken identity. Some people believe that Saint John’s wilderness diet of “locusts and wild honey” actually included carob pods, which resemble locusts. Hence, carob also is known today as locust beans or Saint John’s bread.

Carob has even been used in a non-food context. Because of their uniformity, carob seeds are believed to have been the original standard carat weight used by goldsmiths.

This legume rightly deserves an identity all its own, though its multiple uses make it hard to categorize. Carob can be used as a flavoring, a thickener and even livestock feed.

The carob tree is an evergreen with dark leaves and clusters of red blossoms. The tree produces pods which contain between five and 15 seeds inside a sweet, edible pulp. The pods are sun-dried and the seeds removed. The pulp of the pods is ground into carob powder, also known as carob flour. Carob syrup is made by dissolving the powder in water and boiling it until it is the consistency of money. The seeds are crushed, roasted and boiled in water to extract locust bean gum, which is used as a thickener and stabilizer in ice cream, cheeses and candies. The pods are not known to contain any harmful substances and seed gum generally is safe in the amounts used as food additives.

Carob candies have become quite popular in the natural foods industry. Carob chips often are used as a substitute for chocolate chips and in a variety of trail mixed and confections.

Carob flour has a mildly sweet taste (it’s 48 percent sucrose compared to chocolate’s 5 percent) and blends well with other cereal grains, making it a welcome addition to baked goods ranging from pumpernickel bread to brownies. Because it is sweeter and less rich than chcolate, recipes must be adjusted for roughly one-fourth less sweetener when carob is used as a chocolate substitute.

Mixed with hot or cold water or milk, carob powder becomes a beverage. Blend carob with milk, honey, vanilla and cracked ice and you have a delicious shake.

What’s in carob’s future? The Encyclopedia of Food more than 40 years ago predicted Californian and Southern farmers would plant carob trees close to existing orange groves, since the trees thrive in similar climates. So far, the vast majority of carob still comes from along the Mediterranean. Mature trees produce more than 100 pounds of pods a year, far more than any grain.

Because carob lacks the stimulants of chocolate, is lower in fat and is high in potassium, it makes a great candy alternative. Carob candies are thoughtful gifts for Valentine’s Day or other giftgiving occasions. Your health food store carries carob in a number of varieties for every taste.

Carob Chip Cookies

1/4 cup mashed banana 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 large egg 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup rolled oats 3/4 cup carob chips

Beat together mashed banana and oil until creamy. Beat in egg. And flour , rolled oats, and carob chips. Mix well. Drop batter by teaspoons onto oiled baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cookies just start to brown around the edges. Cool on wire racks. Yields 3 dozen cookies.

Sweet and Sugarfree

Carob Smoothie

4 cups los-fat milk 3 Tbsp molasses 1/2 cup milk powder 1/3 cup carob powder 1 ripe banana 1/4 cup raw peanuts 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Blend all ingredients. Pour into dessert glasses. Serves 4.6.

The Natural Foods Cookbook

Carob Candy

1 cup honey 1/3 cup carob powder Dash of salt substitute 2 Tbsp unprocessed, unsalted butter 2 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butter 3 cups rolled oats

Have everything ready before you begin. Boil the honey, carob powder, salt substitute and butter for one minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter and oats. Stir quickly and drop by the teaspoonful onto waxed paper to cool. Makes 72 pieces.

Allergy-Free Cooking

Carob Mint Cake

2-1/2 cups freshly milled wheat flour 1/2 cup freshly ground sunflower seeds 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp cinnamon 2 Tbsp carob powder 1/4 cup pure canandian maple syrup or rice malt 3/4 cup strong peppermint tea

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients separately. Stir the mixtures together to form a thick batter. Beat well with a mixer or food processor to develop the gluten. This binds the cake and keeps it from crumbling. Spoon the batter into a floured loaf dish and bake 60 minutes at 350[degrees]. Cool and ice with Carob Mint Icing.

Icing: 1/2 cup carob powder 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/2 cup strong mint tea 1/2 cup kuzu dissolved in a little cooled strong mint tea 1/2 cup coconut for decoration (optional)

Combine carob, nutmeg, and mint tea. Simmer, stirring constantly for 10 minutes to form a syrup. Ad kuzu mixture and stir briskly for 30 seconds until thickened. Ice cake immediately and sprinkle with coconut

Baking For Health

Soya-Carob Bread

1-1/2 Tbsp dry active yeast 3-1/4 cups lukewarm water 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk solids 1/2 cup sunflower seed meal 1 tsp salt substitute 8 cups soya-carob flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water and set aside until the mixture becomes frothy. Add honey, oil and remaining water to the yeast mixture. Mix together milk solids, sunflower meal, salt substitute and four cups of the flour. Add to the liquid ingredients and mix well. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a dough for kneading. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in clean oiled bowl, turn to oil, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Divide dough into three portions and shape each portion into a loaf to fit a well-buttered loaf pan. Cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to 375[degrees]. Bake 45 to 60 minutes until golden brown.

The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook

COPYRIGHT 1989 PRIMEDIA Intertec, a PRIMEDIA Company. All Rights Reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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