Carob: The miracle of the Cretan land
Although it is not hidden, it is a nutritional treasure
Carob comes from the carob tree, a native tree with a long life that thrives mainly in the Mediterranean. In Greece, locust’s trees are found mainly in Crete; on mountain slopes, on roads, and even in ravines. It is quite similar to the bean plant, especially when it is unripe and therefore still green, while as it matures it acquires brown shades.
The scientific name for the locust tree, Ceratonia siliqua L. comes from the Greek word “horn”, due to the keratomorphic shape of the fruit and from the Latin word “siliqua”, which refers to the hardness and shape of the pods. Although the origin of the locust bean, to this day, is not entirely accurate, we know that it first appeared either in the Mediterranean basin, or in the Arabian Peninsula, or in the Horn of Africa.
Of particular interest is the fact that carob has been the staple food of many peoples in times of famine. For example, many children were saved thanks to it during the Spanish War. Although the most common use of locust plant, to this day, remains as animal feed, we cannot overlook the fact that it has now been established as a nutritionally rich food. It is at the center of new dietary trends, as it satisfies the basic “requirements” of modern human. In other words, it is a low-calorie, caffeine-free, gluten-free food and highly nutritious.
The benefits of carob
More specifically, the benefits of locust bean include that it is quite rich in both carbohydrates and proteins. In fact, it is worth noting that 100gr. contain 5-8gr. protein making it an extremely restorative and filling food.
Also, it contains almost no fat while it is full of fiber. It is a digestible food without gluten allowing its consumption by people suffering from celiac disease. Carob is characterized by an abundance of vitamin A, B vitamins and trace elements such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese and copper.
Strikingly enough, it provides high calcium rates, as it provides twice as much calcium as milk, which is essential for bone growth in childhood and adolescence, but also later in pregnancy and menopause. Carob also contains polyphenols, antioxidants that help prevent cancer and hyperlipidemia.
How can carob be used?
It can be consumed both as carob flour in various recipes and as carob honey, which is particularly beneficial in combating cough. In case you did not know, carob flour is a great replacement for cocoa powder, allowing you to make sweets, breads and other low-calorie, low-fat, low-glycemic products by replacing cocoa and chocolate.
Carob use ideas
- Add carob powder to smoothies and fresh juices.
- Sprinkle carob powder on ice cream and yogurt.
- Add carob flour to the dough of breads, breadsticks, rusks and other kind of baked products.
- Replacing the chocolate drink with a carob drink.