The all-natural sweetener that gained fame as a healthy chocolate substitute at the turn of the millennium is popular once again and being featured prominently in restaurant recipes in 2021. Most used to prepare sweet treats and desserts such as brownies, fudge, and milkshakes, there are so many good reasons why adding carob-flavored dishes to your menu is a sure-fire recipe for success.
If you are new to carob, it is a sweet, edible pulp that comes from the pods of a tropical carob tree. Dried and roasted, the pulp is ground into a powder for consumption or transformed into carob chips, syrup, or extract. In an age when wellness tops consumers’ minds, carob steps up to the plate with its multiple health benefits. These include the facts that carob is:
- 100% natural
- Dairy free
- Full of fiber
- Loaded with antioxidants
- Low in fat
- Low in carbohydrates
- High in calcium, iron, pectin, and protein
- A source of vitamins A, B2, B3, B6
- Contains important minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc
Is Carob the New Chocolate?
While scores of chocoholics around the world guarantee that the quintessential sweet treat reigns on, the growing population of health-conscious consumers has made way for carob to take center stage as a great alternative. It has a taste similar to chocolate, helps satisfy sugar cravings, and has been found to aid in weight loss. ease stomach problems, relieve diarrhea, and reduce high cholesterol.
Carob enthusiasts will tell you that although it looks like cocoa, carob has its own unique flavor which is slightly sweeter than chocolate with a mild nutty, caramel taste and hint of date flavor. And, as an interesting aside for you dog-lovers out there, while chocolate is dangerous for your dog, carob treats can be given to your dog without any guilt.
Carob as a Beauty Enhancer
Today, carob is also gaining prominence as a plant-based source of hydroxyproline, an amino acid involved in collagen production.
Collagen-infused foods and drinks, aka ‘edible beauty’ products, are also among consumers’ most sought-after items for 2021. Collagen promotes healthy-looking skin and helps prevent wrinkles, slows the aging process, strengthens the body’s bones and connective tissues, and prevents stiff joints, weak cartilage, and brittle bones.
Best yet, you can substitute carob for chocolate in a 1-to-1 ratio in most recipes, such as substituting carob chips for chocolate chips, or carob powder for cocoa powder in brownies.
Did you know that the consumption of carob and its health benefits date back 4,000 years to ancient Greece? In fact, ancient Greeks were the first to grow carob trees, which are now found all over the world. Also known as Ceratonia siliqua, the carob fruits look like dark brown pea pods filled with pulp and seeds. They measure ½ -1 foot in length and are about one inch wide. Considered a highly sustainable crop that is easy to grow with minimal amounts of water, the pods are harvested in the early to late fall.
Industry experts expect carob sales to soar in the near future, even going so far as to suggest that it wouldn’t be surprising if Starbucks came out with a carob syrup that capture’s the ingredient’s “earthy, yummy, and naturally sweet flavor.”
Carob Powder vs. Cocoa Powder
Also known as carob flour, carob powder is increasingly being used by chefs as a cocoa powder alternative. Wondering how the two stack up? Here’s the scoop on carob powder versus cocoa powder:
- Carob powder is lower in fat and calories than cocoa powder, however it’s slightly higher in carbs and sugar.
- Both carob and cocoa powder contain calcium, an important mineral that promotes bone health and muscle/nerve function. However, cocoa powder also contains oxalates which reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Carob powder is oxalate free.
- Carob powder is free of tyramine, an amino acid known to trigger migraine headaches. As a result, carob is considered safe to eat for those who suffer from migraines, while chocolate and cocoa powder are not recommended.
How to Add Carob Powder to Your Restaurant’s Dishes
Here are some great ideas on how to add the all-natural powder to your customers’ favorite menu selections:
- Add to bread dough and pancake batter
- Sprinkle on top of yogurt and/or ice cream
- Add to smoothies
- Use as an alternative in preparing hot chocolate
- Use to make creamy carob pudding
- Make carob brownies
- Replace the chocolate in dessert bars with carob powder and almond milk.
Finally, it’s time to open the recipe book and see what treats you can offer your diners that will keep them coming back for more.
Sugar-Free Banana-Carob Smoothie
- 3 frozen bananas, cut into 1″-2″ chunks
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/3 cup vanilla almond milk, vanilla soy milk, or canned coconut milk
- 2 tbsp. carob powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Place all ingredients and approximately 1½ frozen bananas in a blender, blending until bananas are mostly mashed.
- Add remaining bananas and blend until smooth. Mixture will be thick but do not over-blend.
- Serve immediately.
- Bon Appétit!
NOTE: Freezing the bananas is essential for a creamy, rich-resulting smoothie that eliminates the need for ice cubes.
Peanut Butter Carob Fudge (Gluten-free, Dairy Free, Vegan)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp. coffee
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 cup carob powder
- Place sugar, coconut milk, and coffee in a saucepan and whisk together.
- Boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly (2-3 minutes).
- Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
- Stir in carob powder.
- Transfer mixture to an 8-inch x 4-inch dish or loaf pan
- Chill, serve, and enjoy!