Carob pods makes a color like the cinnamon coated marzipan balls.
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How did people of old do things? How do people along the routes I traveled find out certain techniques? I have always been intrigued yet never so much to find out.
When Geo and I came upon a bright red seed we were told the indigenous Indians would make necklaces from the beads. But how would they penetrate a hole into those rock hard beans? Someone knew the answer: ‘In Lima is a machine for that.’
I’d gathered plenty of carob pods, divided them in 3 and processed two parts for grinding into a powder and one part for preparing a dye bath with. In the process I found out that the otherwise rock hard seed in those pods can be penetrated with a needle, when boiled and soaked for some hours. No need to go to Lima for that puncture machine.
However, the seeds will be thrown out and what you will use is the pod and its pulp. Furthermore, when I was in the process I learned that carob should work as a dye and that it is healthy.
Carob fruits also contain important minerals including iron, copper, zinc, manganese, nickel, barium, tannin and cobalt (cobalt? I know cobalt only as an artist, in the form of oil paints, yet cobalt is an intrinsic part of vitamin B12 and essential for the function of cells. It is also involved in the production of red blood cells and the production of antibacterial and antiviral compounds that prevent infections).
Now, I don’t care about certain benefits like gluten-free but I’ll give you the list of benefits I came upon. Its overwhelming… so, grab a cup of dandelion root coffee (or matcha) and enjoy the read. While I was at it, it made me realize it is next to impossible to lead a fully balanced holistic lifestyle, so don’t be discouraged and simply enjoy the wonders that nature offers. Carob!
Other names for carob include Algarrobo, Caroube, Carouge, Garrotero, Locust Bean, Locust Bean Gum, Locust Pods, Pain de Saint Jean-Baptiste, St. John’s Bread, Sugar Pods.
How to make powder
1. The seeds have to be removed from the pod. You can soften the pods by boiling them for some time and then pick out the seeds. Since this takes some effort, one might be able to get the seeds out by breaking the pod in pieces, though, it is a hard shelled pod.
2. The pods without seeds have to be broken in small pieces, this is what you are going to use. Dry the pods thoroughly (in the sun or at a low temperature in the oven) and roast them in a pan on low heat until the smell is wavering throuh the kitchen. You can also skip this step and not roast them.
3. When the pods are either or not roasted, place the small pieces in a food processor (I used a blender with which you can make smoothies) and blend until a coarse powder.
4. Ready to use. See below for some recipes.
Harvest time: the pods are harvested in autumn. I gathered mine in early spring, and that’s fine too, as they store well for up to a year if they are dried thoroughly.
A few facts
Carob powder is a cocoa powder alternative. Personally I think the tastes are quite different but both have a strong, toasty, nutty and bitter taste.
Carob pods contain bio-active compounds such as dietary fiber, polyphenols, flavonoids, cyclitols and tannins. These compounds have been associated with a variety of health benefits including, glycemic (blood sugar) control, cholesterol reduction, anticancer effects, and many more.
2. Naturally low-fat and low in sodium
Carob powder contains virtually no fat. It’s higher in sugar and carbs than cocoa powder.
3. Contains calcium
Calcium is a mineral. It’s important for bone health. It also helps your heart, nerves, and muscles function well.
4. High in fiber
Two tablespoons of carob powder have almost 5 grams of fiber, over 20 percent of the recommended dietary allowance. Fiber helps you stay fuller longer to help you eat less (or to have more energy), prevent constipation, maintain healthy bowels, control your blood sugar and lower your cholesterol.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. In some people, gluten triggers their immune system to attack the small intestines. Carob powder is gluten-free.
6. Good source of antioxidants (and helps relieves diarrhea)
Thanks to its tannin content, carob powder has been used as a natural remedy for diarrhea. Tannins are polyphenols found in some plants. Polyphenols are micro nutrients that we get through certain plant-based foods. They’re packed with antioxidants and potential health benefits. It’s thought that polyphenols can improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases. Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body and found in foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. When free radicals accumulate, they may cause a state known as oxidative stress, which translates to diabetes, atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the blood vessels, inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Oxidative stress also contributes to aging.
Caffeine is a great pick-me-up, but too much may cause unpleasant side effects, such as insomnia, fast heart rate, nervousness, irritability, upset stomach, muscle tremor. Carob powder contains no caffeine. This is good news for caffeine-sensitive people looking for a chocolate substitute.
8. Free of tyramine
Tyramine is a byproduct of tyrosine, an amino acid. Foods that contain tyramine may trigger migraine headaches. Since chocolate contains tyramine, it’s not recommended for people who get migraines. Carob doesn’t contain tyramine and is considered safe to eat if you get migraines.
Ways to use carob
This is how you can add carob powder to your diet:
- add carob powder to smoothies
- sprinkle carob powder on yogurt with granola
- add carob powder to bread dough or oatmeal batter
- make a hot carob drink instead of hot chocolate
- make carob brownies, smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, bread or in granola and nut-mixes
Carob powder is a healthy alternative to cocoa powder. While cacao refers to cacao beans that have not been roasted, what is called cocoa is made of beans have been roasted. So, in turn, a product that is labeled cacao is the raw bean and is often packaged as vegan chocolate that has been minimally processed with no additives.
My husband and I had a load of raw cocoa when we were traveling in Ecuador but were anxious to take it with us to the USA, so we gave it back to the people who presented us with it. Since cocoa is not easily/cheaply or naturally available where I am, I rather opt for carob.
Since carob powder is naturally sweet, there’s no need to add sugar or other sweeteners when using it in your favorite recipes. Carob powder is generally considered safe to eat.
A few recipes
Dry ingredients: 190 gram ground walnuts/blanched almond flour/oatmeal flour/coconut flour – 30 gram arrowroot starch/flour/powder – 3 tablespoons toasted carob powder – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon – ½ teaspoon baking soda – ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom – ¼ teaspoon ground ginger – ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt. Wet ingredients: 85 gram melted coconut oil – 115 gram coconut nectar, honey or maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 175 Celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat, and set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until combined and set aside.
- Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until combined.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix with a spoon until fully incorporated. The mixture will be thick, just keep turning it over until all of dry pieces are part of the large mass of dough.
- Make a small ball with the dough, the size fitting your hand and flop onto the baking sheet.
- Press down on the cookies lightly. Then place in the oven to bake for 13-16 minutes, until tops are slightly cracked.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow cookies to cool for 30 minutes or so.
Ingredients: 150 gram raw cashews – 2 tablespoons carob powder – 1 tablespoons healthy sweetener of choice – 3 tablespoons raw coconut oil – a pinch of sea salt
- Put the cashews in the blender or food processor and pulse until it has a flour-like consistency.
- Add coconut oil, carob powder, a pinch of salt and healthy sweetener of choice. Blend well together.
- Cover a rectangle form with some plastic foil. Add the cashew-carob mixture and start pressing it and spreading it evenly. You can also form balls from it.
- Place in fridge for at least an hour.
Ingredients: 128 gram coconut butter – 45 ml coconut oil (melted) – 24 gram toasted carob powder – 22 gram maca powder – 9-18 gram coconut flour – 1 healthy pinch sea salt – 1/2 tsp vanilla extract – stevia or any other sweetener
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend to combine until completely smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
- Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
- Pour into cupcake liner molds, a lined loaf pan, or silicone chocolate molds. Let cool until firm. Depending on the temperature of your home, they may solidify at room temperature. If not, carefully transfer to the refrigerator until firm. Then remove from molds and enjoy. Because coconut butter chilled has some texture, don’t be worried if the tops of your bars have a bit of ridging to them – that’s normal!
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for 1 month or longer. Let thaw slightly before enjoying for best texture.
The beauty of growing (part of) your own food is more than just healthy, it is beauty to the eye and rapture to the senses. It is hard work too. A visual reconnection with traveling the world because food is life.
Nettle syrup is SO delicious that you just want to drink cold drinks. For a teetotaler this is a nice change in hot sweaty summer days
I seek for plant parts with which I can dye and where I can make delicious recipes with. Nettle, the weed we all know, is one of them.
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Posts about travel, natural dyeing, my outdoor activities, searching and multiple usage of plants and roots