Superfood in the spotlight: Carob
The carob is a dark brown shrub that belongs to the pea family and is native to Mediterranean countries. Its benefits have been known and used for over 4000 years. Carob pods and its dried fruits, also known as locust bean, are consumed in many different products; most commonly to replace chocolate.
The superfood is usually turned into flour which can be an ideal substitute for cocoa to be used in snacks, cereals or beverages. It can also be turned into syrup and used in other baked goods.
The advantages of carob over chocolate are plentiful:
• It contains fewer calories and less fat while providing protein and fibre that you can’t find in chocolate.
• It’s rich in antioxidants and nutrients, preventing the damage from free radicals and helping to prevent certain types of cancer (specifically cervical cancer).
• It can prevent overeating by satiating the hormone that informs the body that it is hungry (postprandial ghrelin).
• It’s believed to help reduce bad cholesterol levels; with dietary fiber that can improve the levels of good cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins.
• It’s naturally rich in calcium, essential for healthy bones and teeth.
Want to try your hand at carob cooking? This sweet recipe by Stacey from goodnessis.com (inspired in Enlightened Eating by Caroline Marie Dupont) is delightfully simple. The end result? A delicious cake with a very special glaze.
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1/3 cup unsweetened carob powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coconut sugar (or unrefined cane sugar)
1/2 cup good quality olive/sunflower oil
1 cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Grease a 8-inch square pan or a 9-inch round baking pan. Mix together the flour, carob, baking soda, salt and coconut sugar in the greased baking pan and stir to combine.
- In a large measuring jug, measure and mix together the sunflower oil, water and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix batter with a fork or small whisk.
- When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter where the baking soda and the vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- When cooked, remove from oven, set aside to cool completely and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Start to prepare the glaze while the cake is baking.
For the glaze:
2 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup carob powder
- Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan and then turn off the heat.
- Add the maple syrup and carob powder. Mix with a small whisk or fork until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- Remove the cake from the fridge, drizzle over the glaze. When ready to serve, decorate with strawberry slices or pomegranate seeds or sprinkle with dried shredded coconut.