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The Advantages of Carob

By Alana Sugar, February 8, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

carobgranolabars I'm a chocolate lover; you know that already. And I'm sensitive to caffeine; you know that, too. So, let's be frank: When you love chocolate, it's hard to find a replacement with the same flavor and mouth-feel, right? Enter carob. Not chocolate, not really. But a good place to start. In fact, there are plenty of times when I choose carob instead. Why? Unlike chocolate, carob is naturally sweet, low in fat, high in fiber, has calcium, and most importantly to me, no caffeine. And because chocolate is linked to migraines and caffeine-sensitivity for some people, carob definitely has its advantages.

Carob comes from the pod of a tree that grows along the Mediterranean Sea. The pod contains a sweet, edible pulp. Once dried and roasted, the pulp is ground into a powder called carob flour (but more commonly referred to as "carob powder"). It's similar to cocoa powder in color and can be substituted one-for-one in recipes, but carob is unique with its own special flavor and texture. {C}{C}If you've never tried carob, you're in for a treat. It's sweet, mild and packed with pectin, a soluble fiber. Traditionally, it was used to soothe an upset stomach.

I've been enjoying this soothing, winter-perfect recipe for Hot Spiced Carob. You can try carob in cookies, candies and beverages. It's very simple to substitute in your favorite recipes. Here are some substitution ideas to get you started:

  • Replace cocoa powder with carob powder one-for-one in your recipes.
  • Or use half cocoa powder and half carob powder in your recipes.
  • Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips in cookies, bars, cakes, muffins and candies. (Many of our stores carry unsweetened carob chips,too.)
  • Baking fat free? No problem! Omit the oil or butter and use a little extra applesauce, mashed pears, mashed bananas or other fruit puree.
  • Carob can burn! Set your oven 25°F lower when baking with it exclusively.
  • Got a recipe calling for baking chocolate? For each square, use 3 tablespoons of carob powder plus one to two tablespoons of dairy or non-dairy milk.
  • Add a tablespoon of carob powder to bread dough to make a nice, rich dark color.
  • Store carob flour in an air-tight container in a cool, dry pantry; if it lumps up, just sift before using.

And now for some fun ideas and recipes:

  • Bake a Carob Cake - fudge-like without the chocolate!
  • Top frozen yogurt or ice cream with carob powder. Mash it in and eat it up!
  • Mix peanut or almond butter with carob flour, raw honey and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom. Add a drop of vanilla; form into balls and eat it plain or spread it over apples, pears, peaches, plumbs or oranges.
  • Make a carob smoothie with milk or fruit juice, frozen fruit, nut butter and carob powder.
  • Prepare a batch of Maple and Carob Chip Granola Bars, perfect for breakfast.
  • Make carob pancakes: Substitute 1/4 cup carob flour for 1/4 cup regular flour in your recipe. Omit the sugar and add an extra tablespoon of oil or melted butter. Top with strawberries, walnuts and a little pure maple syrup.
  • Top fresh berries or other fruit with a combination of nuts and carob chips.
  • Melt carob chips and spoon over fruit or frozen desserts. Try with mango sorbet.
  • Throw a handful of carob chips into muffins for a nice treat.
  • Gather the kids (of any age!) and make these no-cook Chocolate Earth Balls; be sure to use the carob powder.
  • Heat a cup of milk or non-dairy milk. Add a small handful of carob chips, stir until melted and drink up.
  • Make a vanilla cake, throw a handful of carob chips into the batter, and bake as directed.
  • Make trail mix with carob chips, dried fruit, whole grain cereal and chopped nuts.

Have you tried carob? Got a favorite recipe or idea? Let me hear about it!




Food Makes Fun Fuel says ...
I've never tried it but I'll be sure to look for something carob next time I'm out shopping
02/08/2010 10:26:01 AM CST
Sean C says ...
Awesome. I've never tried it before. I think it would be a good substitute for me. Can't wait to try it.
02/08/2010 5:41:48 PM CST
americandesi says ...
does carob taste like chocolate?
02/10/2010 8:47:04 AM CST
Maureen Hagan says ...
Hi I used to make a carob tofu "cheesecake" with silken tofu, but lost the recipe. Can you help?
02/10/2010 9:41:25 AM CST
Annie D says ...
I love the carob products. I made Peanut butter Frosting Fudge for Christmas and threw in a handful of carob chips. It was like having a reese cup. Just put an 18 oz jar of peanut butter in a bowl, and heat it up for 90 seconds on high, add a can of Frosting (not whipped) to this and stir. Add a handful of carob chips and stir them in, and put in a 9 X 13 inch pan, that has been lined with alum foil that has been buttered. Put in fridge to cool. Take out of pan and cut into squares. YUM! So good I will be making this in July I wish Whole Foods would stock the carob candy bars you can get on Amazon.
02/10/2010 11:13:04 AM CST
Glenda says ...
Is Carob caffine free or decaffinated? I can't have caffine in any form and have for years missed hot chocolate mostly, can't wait to try your receipe. Thanks GW
02/10/2010 11:17:36 AM CST
Victoria says ...
Thanks for sharing this. I live in Cyprus (which is an island in the Mediterranean) where carob is abundant in many forms, so I'll definitely be trying the recipe. americandesr, to answer your question, carob does taste a bit like chocolate but not exactly the same. Personally I don't like nor eat chocolate, but I really enjoy carob paste (however it's extremely sweet so can only eat a bit at a time)
02/10/2010 12:14:08 PM CST
MJ says ...
I have used carob for about 20 years since I avoid all caffeine for medical reasons. I made hot carob istead of hot chocolate for my kids because I didn't want caffeine in their diets either when they were young. And my husband turned "The Perfect Chocolate Cake" into "The Perfect Carob Cake" for my birthday and it was wonderful - rich, dark, moist!
02/10/2010 12:32:48 PM CST
Jen says ...
I LOVE CAROB... I find the taste so much more rich than chocolate, almost sultry. Whenever I'm at Whole Foods, I pick up a bag of carob covered raisins from the bulk food section.
02/11/2010 9:23:43 PM CST
roser says ...
some of tiger's milk candy bars feature carob. i wish whole food would carry this product.
02/12/2010 12:24:33 PM CST
Sugarcandy says ...
Hi! I am sensitive to caffeine and I have tried carob. I like it in small quantities though! Do you know that when we consume carob we have to drink a lot of water with it as it has a tendency to take up a lot of fluid from our bodies... Has it happened with anybody else? Thanks SC
02/15/2010 12:11:21 PM CST
Chandi says ...
When I was young my mom didn't let me have sugar so I had carob galor and to this day I will still choose chocolate over carob so if you have children please do carob in moderation. After 30 plus years I may try carob again though.
02/17/2010 5:52:49 PM CST
Mindy says ...
I'm glad you have this article. I cannot have caffine and have been eating carob for years. I love it, it's not quite the same as chocolate but I love it still the same. I really like the carob covered almonds in the bulk section. I do bake with it occasionally and there is a product I use that has carob in it to make hot chocolate- it's wonderful. Thanks for giving some more recipes. Gotta try that cake. Thank God for Carob!
02/17/2010 6:57:46 PM CST
mountain girl says ...
On my blog I have a list of some benefits of carob...amazing! Here's the link: http://www.pocoleon.com/happy-healthy-hippie-food/breakfast-superfood-4/ I also feature a yummy energizing chia-hemp pudding recipe that is delish with carob chips sprinkled on it: http://www.pocoleon.com/general/the-real-breakfast-of-champions/ And here are pics of the finished recipe: http://www.pocoleon.com/happy-healthy-hippie-food/super-breakfast-saga-continued/. Enjoy!
02/17/2010 10:55:01 PM CST
DD says ...
I myself have been using carob for many many years (15) due to caffeine issues.I just wish my local Swampscott Whole Foods Store would carry more carob products besides carob chips like I've continually requested they do for the past year. I enjoy baking with carob an enjoy carob covered almonds, milk balls, raisins, rice cakes, cookies etc. which can be found at smaller Health Food stores outside my area which is inconvenient travel wise as I am a frequent flyer and love shopping at Whole Foods.
02/18/2010 7:14:40 AM CST
Barb says ...
I looked for carob chips at your store--I found them but they had malted barley as an ingredient in them, since I can't have any gluten that won't work. Do they have any that don't have malted barley in them?
02/18/2010 6:04:22 PM CST
Gloria Gonzalez says ...
I love chocolate and I was looking for carob recipes. Thank you! I will definetely try it.
02/18/2010 6:10:47 PM CST
Ash Lauren says ...
I can't wait to try carob in place of chocolate chips in many recipes, like pancakes and even some gluten-free low-fat cheesecake brownies I'm planning on trying!
03/09/2010 4:50:53 PM CST
marck says ...
Love to chew raw whole carob since I was a kid. Also use it as car air freshener. Commercial air fresheners are too strong for a day or two, than nothing. Waste of money. 4-6 whole raw carob pods smell great for weeks. There are no nasty chemicals neither.
06/30/2010 1:53:25 PM CDT
Elizabeth says ...
1 large avocado, 2 chopped frozen plantains, and carob powder - makes awesome smooth ice cream!!
10/01/2010 10:52:52 AM CDT
Kathy says ...
I think Carob has an almost nutty taste to it. I prefer carob malted milk balls over the traditional chocolate variety. I look forward to trying it hot, like cocoa. But in baking, I haven't been to thrilled with the flavor. I usually use a blend of one part carob, two parts cocoa. SO my browny recipe calls for 6 T of cocoa powder. I use 2 T carob and 4 T (1/4c) cocoa.
02/22/2012 5:17:51 PM CST
Heather Neal says ...
Hi there Alana, Thank you for your blog on carob:) I wanted to let you know that we make food with carob and Roma, this gives it a taste that is much more like chocolate. Here is a recipe, if you are interested:) Have a great day, Heather Neal Carob Smoothie With a Mocha Flavor Ingredients • 4 frozen bananas • 2 C. Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk • 2 Tbsp. (heaping) roasted/toasted carob powder • 2 Tbsp. (heaping) Roma • 2 Tbsp. Chia seeds • 2 tsp. sweetener—agave, honey or maple syrup • 4 ice cubes Directions 1. Blend Chia seeds into a powder in a blender or coffee grinder. 2. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy :) Another Option If you want a stronger “coffee” taste leave out the ice cubes.
09/12/2012 4:11:29 PM CDT
Kim says ...
Where can I buy carob milk? I used to drink it as a child.
10/04/2012 9:18:57 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KIM - That sound delicious! Our products vary between locations so I would encourage you to reach out to your local store to see what they carry (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list). If they do not stock this item I would suggest looking at your local farmers market!
10/08/2012 5:35:16 PM CDT
Chris Oinonen Ehren says ...
We have had to give up Chocolate due to it being a migraine trigger (imagine explaining to a second grader that the huge crying headache he is having is due to the fudgicle he had with his school lunch. sigh) Non-sweetened carob is like eating black coffee - not really an option for kids. There's no treat there. Sweetened carob, especially after a number of years with no chocolate, has the illusion of chocolaty-ness. It allows for things like brownies and chocolate chip cookies that can't really be captured in blondies and white chocolate chips (which sometimes still have enough chocolate in them to trigger migraines, double phooey!). We don't pretend they're chocolate, we just do a little dance because we can have a little of the things we have been so brave about turning down for so long. Could someone maybe please make carob oreos? : )
10/17/2012 12:54:03 PM CDT