When I gave up meat, I stopped drinking milk, too. Soy milk was still a pretty new thing to the mainstream consumer, and I wasn't yet familiar with rice milk or nut/seed milks. They weren't available in my area as far as I can remember. Drinking soy milk eased my transition, but it wasn't the most enjoyable change I made. I had a hard time getting over the bland beany taste and the chalky texture. If I'd only known how easy it is to make nut milk at home! One thing that helped make it more palatable was buying flavored milk. Flavored soy milks today have improved greatly since then. It was great that they didn't dump so much sugar in, but “vanilla” wasn't quite so vanilla and the “chocolate” flavor was actually carob. That they only had carob flavor and not chocolate shows you how crunchy granola it was to drink plant milks back then. (It's crazy that “back then” only means 15 years ago. Amazing how quickly things change!) Those early soy-milk-drinking days were my first introduction to carob.
What is carob anyway? A member of the legume family, it is the dried “fruit” pod of a carob tree. It can be ground into a flour or made into syrup. The flour is most commonly toasted, but it is also available raw. You can also eat the raw fruit pod. I've heard it tastes amazing.
Many people use carob as a chocolate substitute. I can see the value of replacing chocolate in ones diet to eliminate stimulants, lower fat intake, or avoid an allergic response. However, I like to mention that it isn't going to taste just like chocolate, as substitutes rarely taste exactly like what they are replacing. In my early vegetarian days, I liked the carob soy milk, but my brain kept saying, “This isn't chocolate!”. While the flavors are similar, I prefer to love carob for its uniqueness instead of thinking of it as a substitute for anything. That's my personal preference. In my mind, if I'm not substituting, I'm not missing out on something. If you're eliminating chocolate from your diet and find it helpful to think of carob as a substitute, go for it. As always, do what works for you!
Carob is a very healthy food to consume. If you decide to replace chocolate with carob, there are several advantages to note. Carob has much less fat than chocolate. It does not contain the stimulants theobromine or caffeine, nor does it have oxalic acid, which interferes with the body's use of zinc and calcium.
This lovely bean is high in fiber and contains some protein, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin A, along with many trace minerals. Because it's slightly sweet, it can help you cut down on added sweeteners.
- The ancient Egyptians are among those throughout history have used carob as a sweetener.
- The word “carob” is derived from the same Greek word as “carat.” Carob seeds, uniform in size and weight, were used to measure gems, and later gold, for sale.
- Those of us who are obsessive food label readers have seen “locust bean gum” on ingredient lists. This thickening agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier is made with carob seeds.
- The carob tree is extremely hardy in times of drought. When food rations were scarce, farmers gave their animals carob pods to save the other food for their family.
- Anyone curious about Bible translation may find a story about John the Baptist interesting. In Matthew 3:4, he is said to have eaten locusts and honey. There is a theory that he didn't actually eat locusts but carob. After all, the carob tree is also known as the locust tree. Eating carob and honey makes more sense than eating locusts and honey. Don't you think?
This smoothie is delicious beyond words. The raspberries play up the fruitiness of the carob, and they both pair well with the melon. If you have a candida issue and are avoiding bananas, you can use stevia instead. Either one makes a wonderful smoothie. What I like about the banana is that the final product has more body. Most green smoothie recipes make the claim that you can't taste the greens in them at all. Though this is often true, many of them are a green color that can be off-putting to green smoothie beginners. This smoothie is doubly deceptive for the greens haters out there. Not only is the lettuce taste undetectable, but the color is a gorgeous chocolatey hue. Sneak some greens to those picky-eaters in your life. They'll thank you for it!
Cantaloupe Carob Smoothie
makes about 3 cups
makes about 3 cups
2 cups cantaloupe
1 heaping cup green leaf lettuce
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
8 oz unsweetened vanilla hemp milk (I use homemade)
1 1/2 T carob powder
½ Banana or 4-6 drops liquid stevia
Blend and serve.