Carob: Chocolate Stand-in Full of Healthful Benefits

By Patricia B. Mitchell


I love chocolate; I use carob. Carob, also known as St. John's bread, algarroba, locust bean, and locust pod, is a healthful substitute for chocolate. The slightly sweet powder is relatively low in calories, and it is thought to be a good source of potassium.

Carob does not contain cholesterol, caffeine, theobromine, and oxalic acid, as chocolate does. Its natural sweetness also reduces the need for big doses of additional calorie-laden sweeteners, as are found in most products made from naturally-bitter chocolate.

Low-fat, low-sodium, high-fiber, calcium-rich carob is made from the pods of carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua). There are hundreds of varieties of these trees (the locust) growing all over the world, including the United States, but the evergreen leguminous type on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea produces the most flavorful product and provides the commercial "fake cocoa" we call carob.

The pods of these trees are harvested and then the pulp of the seedcases is broken into pieces called "kibbles." The kibbles are roasted and finely ground.

Scholars surmise that the husks which the Prodigal Son in the Bible fed the swine were actually carob pods. The scriptural account might have taken a different turn if the errant lad had smashed the pods, creating "kibbles and bits!"

The following recipe will enable you to make the “pleasure of acquaintance” of this health-food store marvel.

Tricia's Carob Fudge

Combine the ingredients in the order listed. (If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water.) Line the bottom of a loaf pan with clear plastic wrap and spoon in the fudge. Pat the top to create an even surface. Cover with clear plastic wrap and chill. To serve, cut into squares.