If you are looking for a caffeine-free and theobromine-free alternative for cocoa powder, carob powder is one of the best natural substitutes. Carob fruit or pods and carob powder have been used for centuries in the Middle East and Africa but now, it is a popular product used worldwide. Let’s find out more about this powder, which looks like cocoa.
What is Carob Powder?
Carob powder is a nutty, sweet powder made by roasting and milling deseeded carob pods. Carob pods are the long, flat, dark brown fruits of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), which are native to the Mediterranean region. According to Elsevier’s Food Chemistry journal, carob pods have more than 50 percent sugar content, most of it being sucrose.
Traditionally, carob has been used to sweeten puddings and cakes in the Middle East. In Lebanon, a thick syrup extracted from soaked carobs is popular as an alternative to sugar and sold as carob molasses, or dibs el kharrub. Carob juice, or kharoub, is a nutritious Egyptian drink that is usually had during the Islamic month of Ramadan. In around the 1970s, carob powder, also known as carob flour, was exported to the US and Europe as an all-natural, caffeine-free alternative to cocoa and chocolate. You can use carob flour to make cakes, muffins, puddings, hot beverages, as well as chilled sweet drinks. There are several carob powder recipes available online for easy-to-make nutrition bars, carob chocolate, and homemade fudge.
According to the USDA, one tablespoon (6 grams) of carob flour contains 13.3 calories and 2.94 grams of sugar. It has 5.3 grams of carbohydrates and 2.4 grams of fiber. If you are baking with carob flour and need to know the sugar content, 1 cup of the flour contains 50.6 grams of natural sugar, which equals approximately 4 tablespoons of sugar.
The main chemical components in carob that have health-benefiting properties include bioactive compounds such as cyclitols, fiber, polyphenols, minerals, and amino acids.
Carob Powder Benefits
Let us look at the health benefits of carob powder.
Excessive caffeine can cause anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and gastrointestinal disturbances. If you are looking to cut down on your caffeine levels, roasted carob flour makes a great option to have in your pantry. You can use it as a cocoa alternative to make a mock hot chocolate, also known as carob tea. Carob is also almost free of theobromine, a compound found in chocolates, which may not be tolerated in people with a sensitive gut.
If you are a die-hard chocolate lover who is trying carob for the first time, there is a chance that you may be disappointed with the flavor. Carob has its own unique, nutty flavor. Try including carob powder in your daily diet by sprinkling it on your yogurt or granola.
May Treat Acute Diarrhea
Carob and carob products have been traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux. Research published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (1989 issue) found that tannin-rich carob powder helped treat acute diarrhea of bacterial and viral origin in infants aged from 3-21 months. A more recent report (2017) published in the Journal of Hepatology & Gastroenterology found that the roasted powder can significantly reduce the duration of diarrhea and improve weight gain in infants. However, the report also states that there are safety and efficacy concerns for which further clinical and human intervention studies are needed.
If you have celiac disease or are allergic to gluten, you can use carob flour to make gluten-free baked products such as cakes and bread. Carob flour is a healthy option as it has a significant amount of dietary fiber, minerals, and a low amount of fat.
Where To Buy Carob Powder?
Carob powder, or carob flour, can be bought on online websites like Amazon. You can also easily buy raw organic carob flour in Walmart, Whole Foods, and other popular supermarket chains. Popular brands include Chatfield’s Premium Carob Powder, Bobs Red Mill Toasted Carob Powder, and NOW Real Food Carob Powder.