Carob: Properties and Uses in the Kitchen and for Health

Carob (Prosopis pallida) is the fruit from the Carob tree, an aromatic tree with a dark brown pod, or fruit, which can reach up to 30 cm, and which contains a rubber-like pulp.  It has a sweet and pleasant taste, and surrounds small seeds.  It’s name is Arabic, and the tree is native to the Far Eastern Mediterranean (in Valencia and Spain, it is known as Garrofera).

Carob: Properties and Uses in the Kitchen and for HealthThere are two types of carob: the black pod carob and the white pod carob.  The white is used in the culinary realm, white the black is used as as an alternative chocolate substitute.  This is a very nutritious food, much lower in fats than the common chocolate; it has only 3% fat, while cacao contains nearly 40%.

Beyond this enormous advantage, carob also possesses other very beneficial health properties and virtues.

Properties of Carob:

  • Rich in vitamin D and B group vitamins, like B1 (thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) (1 mg/kg), and B3, or Niacin, and pro-vitamin A, or beta-carotene.
  • Rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus (0.2%), iron (20 mg/kg), calcium (0.2%) and silicon.
  • Carob seeds contain high percentages of mucilage, and also exert a favorable force against inflammation of the mucous membranes.  This reduces irritation in the respiratory and digestive tracts, and acts effectively against diarrhea.
  • Provides a lot of energy, contains 50% natural sugar, and 10% proteins.
  • Its seeds are rich in soluble fiber, and are good for digestion and proper intestinal functioning.
  • This food is fit for celiacs, because it does not contain gluten.
  • Blend together a carob and blueberry juice tonic for the kidneys.
  • Contains large amounts of tannins, a powerful antioxidant, which helps fight premature cellular deterioration.
  • Carob chocolate does not contain refined sugar, which is harmful to the body.
  • It contains very little fat, and those that it does have, are beneficial fats that do not lead to being overweight.  Compared to chocolate, carob is 3 times richer in calcium.
  • Through a process of fermentation, carob can create an alcoholic beverage called Aloja.
  • Good for reducing the pain associated with contusions.
  • Used as a thickener while preparing some foods.
  • Carob has a favorable effect against mucous membranes inflammation, reducing irritation, both in the respiratory and the digestive tracts.

Nutritional information about Carob

For every 100 grams of carob, you will get:

  • 10% proteins
  • 67% total carbohydrates
  • 50% natural sugars
  • 315 calories
  • 11.5% non-soluble fiber
  • 0.5% soluble dietary fiber
  • Vitamin B6, 2 mg/kg

A bit of Carob’s history

Carob has been used during periods of scarcity to fight hunger and malnutrition, (for example, during the Spanish Civil War).  It was used as a sweetener and digestive supplement in Ancient Egypt.

Currently, in the Canary Islands, it is used to prepare a traditional beverage that the natives call palo.  It is drank mixed with carbonated water.  Do not confuse this drink with Palo Mallorquin, which is an alcoholic drink prepared with gentian, chinchona bark, alcohol, and caramelized sugar; carob is not part of its composition.

In Argentina, white carob is used to prepare a drink called La aloja and la añapa.

Currently, carob has a lot of applications, as well as human’s consumption of animals.  It has become popular due to its great efficacy and positive human health effects.

The taste of carob chocolate is not very sweet.  Black carob is also used in pharmaceuticals.  White carob is used to make flour, which can create several different dishes, especially a bread called Patay, which comes from Argentina.

Here is a delicious and very nutritious recipe with Carob and Tofu.

Carob and Tofu cake

Recipe’s ingredients:

  • 4 c. thin oats
  • 5 Tbsp. cane sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. grated coconut
  • 4 Tbsp. carob
  • 4 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • Fresh water, if necessary
  • 1/4 kilo tofu
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar (for the filling)
  • 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh apples, sliced

Recipe’s directions:

1. Mix the thin, rolled oats, cane sugar, grated coconut, carob, wheat germ, and the amount of water necessary to create a uniform dough.

2. Place in a greased baking pan and press towards the edges.  Blend: tofu, corn starch, brown sugar, 1 cup of water, oil, and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Spread over the cake, decorate with apple slices and bake.

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