Carob–A Healthy Chocolate Alternative

While nothing duplicates chocolate, carob is a healthy alternative. It looks and tastes like a mild cocoa powder. For some people a carob treat enables them to bypass chocolate.

The carob pods, which come from a Mediterranean evergreen, are also known as St. John’s Bread because, apparently, they were a wilderness staple for John the Baptist. When carob’s fleshy pods and seeds are roasted and pulverized, they yield carob powder.

Unlike chocolate, carob is high in calcium and potassium and naturally sweet with 48 percent sugar. While chocolate contains stimulants and up to 60 percent fat, carob is stimulant-free and contains only one percent fat. Sweet, light and dry, with a slightly bitter aftertaste, this powder is a traditional remedy to soothe upset stomachs.

At your natural foods store you’ll find an array of brownies, power bars and pudding made with carob as well as carob chips. While the carob itself is a healthy ingredient, these snacks are only as healthful as are their other ingredients.

Chocolate is a common addiction, especially among American women. A complex food with over 400 compounds, chocolate contains stimulants that increase alertness and a sense of well-being. Lately, there’s been a lot written on the healthfulness of some of these compounds.

Indeed, chocolate would be considered a stimulant but, because it contains so much fat, it is officially classified as a food. However, acknowledging chocolate as a stimulant—and one you may have little control over—may provide additional understanding and resolve in overcoming it.

Getting off chocolate can be like getting off an addictive drug and, if you cut it out entirely, it takes a full two weeks to get out of your system. You may expect strong cravings, headaches, depression, fatigue and feelings of alienation. Other people find it more effective to reduce their chocolate consumption gradually.

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca Wood

6 Responses to Carob–A Healthy Chocolate Alternative

  1. Hi, Sue.
    You definitely seem to be somewhat attuned to your body’s needs, so you’ve obviously made some progress around self-nourishment. It’s probably of great value to do an honest assessment, alone or with guidance from someone like Rebecca, of how nutritionally balanced your current meals are, if only to ensure that they are indeed supporting your overall health.

    After you’ve reached a greater level of confidence in your dietary choices and, if you’re still curious, consider trying the recipes for carob chips/confections found in “Nourishing Traditions”. Until an innovative food artisan comes out with some quality carob treats, those recipes are likely your best bet. Good luck!

  2. Thanks Rebecca! I’m now gluten and dairy free (both as of the end of 2011. I’m buying only from the local whole foods store, and trying to eat little processed food. I’m eating 3 main meals and snacks, so I’m not depriving myself, and am not constantly hungry. For me, cravings have less to do with anything nutritional, and more to do with emotions (working on that). Clearly I can’t still be craving chocolate physically after all these years. When I’m stressed out, the first thing I want to reach for is junk food, like Fritos. And when I make gluten-free, dairy-free desserts to take to a barbecue (not safe to make them unless I’m taking them AWAY from the house!), I inevitably eat too much of them and don’t feel well. I’m getting better at listening to my body, but I’m not there yet. I’d like to be able to find a healthy way of enjoying carob, and maybe someday, chocolate, but I still fear getting addicted again. I might not be ready yet.

  3. I gave up chocolate on December 2, 2003, after years of eating way too much of it – at my worst, I could eat half to one pound a day. I was as addicted to it as an alcoholic is to alcohol. I still think about it every day. The physical cravings are long gone, but the emotional cravings linger. I’ve been wondering if I might safely eat carob instead of chocolate, or if I will only be encouraging a new addiction.

    • Good work for your accomplishment. That you’re still thinking about it suggests to me that there’s room for dietary improvement. When you’re satisfied with your meals, cravings aren’t an issue. Or, to say it another way, if you’re eating a nutritionally balanced diet of freshly prepared whole foods (and if you dont’ have a food sensitivity or allergy) then a new food addiction is highly unlikely.

    • The ingredient carob is indeed carob and not chocolate.
      By law, if chocolate appears in a food product, the word “chocolate” must appear in the label.

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