Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Joy of Carob -- posted by Sarah Grace

Proverbs 23 warns- “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.” Again in Psalm 141 “…let me not eat of their dainties.”

Unfortunately the American diet has become mostly dainties. From taking nutritious ingredients and refining them or pasteurizing them to uselessness, to adding artificial flavorings and toxic chemicals, we have totally stripped our diet of whole nutrition. This can be seen in the widespread epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. This is quite a feat for a country with the best health care in the world.

“Dainties” are to be eaten in moderation. If heavily consumed, the results are disastrous.

One such dainty is chocolate. Now, I love chocolate just as much as the next Oompa Loompa. Unfortunately, it’s not very nutritious despite the recent celebration of antioxidants in dark chocolate. Boo Hoo. This sad fact has led me to the study of carob. Carob is similar to chocolate in taste but it contains many more health benefits. Here are some differences:

Chocolate contains caffeine which is a stimulant that causes the liver to release sugar into the blood stream (causing blood sugar irregularity). It also contains oxalic acid which prevents calcium absorption. Chocolate also prevents absorption of some B vitamins including anti-stress B vitamins.

Carob, on the other hand, has no stimulants, contains 3 times more calcium than mother’s milk, B vitamins, carotenoids, phosphorus and iron. The protein in carob compliments the protein of whole grain flours.

Carob is certainly not a replacement for chocolate but it is a very satisfying substitute if well done. It will at least get you to the next chocolate fix. I’ve been tinkering around with different recipes and when you get ten people to agree that something is delicious, you must be doing something right!

My friend, Pamela, from culinary school made a delicious Mississippi Mud Cake for her final. I found a similar recipe and converted it to whole foods for James’s and Webb’s birthday party.

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sucanat
1/2 cup unsweetened carob powder (made from roasted carob pods)
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon RealSalt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 (10.5-ounce) bag miniature marshmallows (optional, tastes good without)*
Carob Frosting

Whisk together melted butter and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in flour and chopped pecans. Pour batter into a greased and floured 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; top warm cake evenly with marshmallows. Return to oven, and bake 5 minutes. Drizzle Carob Frosting over warm cake. Cool completely.
Makes 15 servings

Carob Frosting**

2 cups sucanat or Rapadura (unrefined sugar)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup unsweetened carob powder (made from roasted carob pods)

Beat all ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Makes 2 cups

*Marshmallows really defeat the purpose when using unrefined sugar, but whatever, your call.
**This frosting will be grainy at first, but melts on the cake.

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