Ca ro b
Natures candy bar that grows on trees!
Carob (Ceratonia siliqua), also known as St John’s Bread, Locust bean or Sugar pod, is a member of the pea family. It is native to the Mediterranean regions of Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the Mediterranean islands and Western Asia. The gum from carob seeds is known as locust bean gum and is used as a food thickening agent.
History of Carob Carob has been used by human beings for thousands of years and has been known as “the staff of life” and “bread that grows on trees” signifying its importance at certain times in its history, including as a life saving food for peasants in times of famine. Carob is thought to be the tree that nourished John the Baptist, hence its name, St John’s Bread. The sweet taste of carob pods meant that they were an important source of sugar before sugar cane and sugar beets became the standard sources of sugar. Carob was used in Ancient Egypt as a sweetener and was even used as the symbol for sweet in hieroglyphics. Carob drinks are drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan and dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat.. A syrup made from carob pods is a traditional medicine for coughs and sore throats in Malta.
Beneficial Components Carob is filling, nutritious and easily digested. Carob is a useful substitute for chocolate that does not contain caffeine or theobromine and is lower in fat and higher in fibre than chocolate. It is also naturally sweet-tasting so less sugar is needed to make it palatable. Carob powder can be used instead of cocoa powder in many recipes. Carob contains lignans which have phytoestrogenic activity that may be protective against oestrogen-related cancers. Lignans also have antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antiinflammatory activity. In herbal medicine carob is described as having anti-tussive (anti-cough), astringent and hypoglycaemic properties. It is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. One of carob’s main traditional uses was as an anti-diarrhoeal agent. This is likely to be due to its pectin and tannin content. Pectin is a gelatinous, water soluble fibre that aids digestion and bulks out bowel movements. The tannins have an astringent effect that provide an additional anti-diarrhoeal effect. Tannins also have the effect of inactivating toxins and inhibiting the growth of bacteria so can help if there is an infection present in the bowel. Let’s see what modern research has found out about the properties of carob.
Carob and Diarrhoea
Infants aged 3-21 months with acute diarrhoea of bacterial or viral origin were treated with a rehydration fluid alongside up to 15mg a day of tannin-rich carob powder or a placebo. The patients who received the carob powder achieved normal bowel movements, body temperature, weight and cessation of vomiting in an average of 2 days compared to nearly 4 days in the placebo group. The carob powder was well tolerated by all (1).
Hot Carob Sauce
Carob and Cardiovascular Disease and the Metabolic Syndrome
250ml of soya or oat milk
The metabolic syndrome describes a clustering of symptoms including blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (imbalanced blood fats), abdominal weight gain and high blood pressure. Those with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Serves 2 2 tbsp cornflour 1-2 heaped tbsp of carob powder
In a small pan combine the cornflour, carob powder and milk. Stir until smooth. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly and then simmer the sauce until it has thickened. Serve hot over stewed fruit.
Greater understanding of the causes of the metabolic syndrome suggest that polyphenols, from plants including carob, might be a useful treatment (2). The polyphenol rich, insoluble fibre in carob has been found to lower triglycerides (blood fats) and total and LDL cholesterol in people with hypercholesterolaemia (3).
Ice Cream Parlour Sauce with Banana Ice Cream
Carob, Cancer and Antioxidants
125ml of water
Carob exhibits strong antioxidant activity being rich in phenolic compounds and flavanoids (4,5,6). Research has found that carob can decrease the viability of human cancer cells (5,6). Gallic acid, a polyphenol in carob, has been shown to reduce DNA damage in human colon cancer cells (7). Other research found extracts of carob to have anti-proliferative effects on liver cancer cells (8).
Carob protects the Liver and Kidneys
Remove the banana slices from the freezer about 10-20 minutes before serving to allow them to soften slightly.
The antioxidant and free-radical scavenging activity of the phenols and flavanoids in carob have been shown to be protective to both the liver and the kidneys (9).
To make the sauce put the water, tahini, carob powder and vanilla extract in a blender and blend until smooth. If you donâ€™t have a blender use a little less water and make the sauce in a bowl or cup instead. Stir well with a spoon until completely smooth.
Carob and Mood
Sauce serves 3-4. 1 large or 2 small bananas per person
40g carob powder Â˝ tsp vanilla extract Peel and slice the bananas. Put them in a freezer proof container and freeze overnight or for a couple of hours.
Carob can even have an anti-depressant effect which is thought to be due to its mediating effects on dopamine and noradrenaline (10). Dopamine is a brain chemical that is partly responsible for feelings of motivation and pleasure. Noradrenaline is involved in mood and the stress response.
Divide the banana slices between individual serving bowls. Alternatively, they can be processed in a food processor using the S-shaped blade, or run through a champion or other suitable juicer to produce a smoother, more ice cream-like texture. Pour on the sauce and eat immediately. Store any unused sauce in the fridge.
How to Use Carob
Diarrhoea Up to 15gms (1 tbsp) of carob powder can be used for treating diarrhoea in children. Adults need at least 20gms a day. The powder can be mixed with apple sauce or yoghurt and should be taken with plenty of water. Infant diarrhoea should be monitored by a healthcare professional. Proper hydration with an electrolyte fluid may be necessary if diarrhoea persists.
100g/4oz ground almonds 150g/6oz carob powder, plus a little extra for rolling 50g/2oz desiccated coconut, plus a little extra for rolling A few whole almonds Mix the ground almonds, carob powder and desiccated coconut together in a bowl. Add enough water to hold the mixture together in stiff dough.
Knead well and divide the mixture into 24-30 pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball. Roll a third of the balls in desiccated coconut, a third of the balls in carob powder and decorate the remaining balls with a whole almond, pressed into the dough. Store the balls in an airtight container in the fridge.
Carob and Apple Cake
In a small bowel mash the avocado with a fork. Drain the dates or sultanas reserving the soak water. Add them to the avocado and stir in the carob powder and hemp protein powder Stir in enough of the soak water from the fruit to create a creamy mousse-like consistency. Sprinkle on the hulled hemp seeds for a crunchy topping.
These yummy sweets make the ideal treat for Christmas or Easter!
This can be served as dessert or makes a meal for one, if served with several pieces of fruit and a couple of slices of sprouted wheat bread.
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
Fruit Carob Smoothie
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 cup of carob powder 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut 1/2 cup of dates, chopped 3 apples, puréed ½ tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp allspice (optional) Fresh fruit eg: strawberries, kiwi slices, banana slices or tangerine segments. Grind the sunflower and sesame seeds in a coffee grinder. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix together well, then spoon the mixture into a pie case or flan dish. Smooth the surface with a knife and decorate with the fruit.
Carob Mousse Serves 1-2
100g/4oz mango chunks 100g/4oz papaya chunks 125ml/½ cup of soya yoghurt 1-2 tbsp carob powder Juice of 1 large orange (about 100 ml) Juice of half a lime (optional) Half a frozen banana, sliced 30g blackberries, frozen 125ml/½ cup soya milk Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor, using the S-shaped blade. You will find that it blends more easily if the frozen fruits are allowed to thaw for 10 minutes before processing.
1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
Collect blackberries from the hedgerows in August and September and store them in your freezer for an all-year-round supply.
4 chopped dates or 2 tbsp of sultanas, soaked for a few hours in water
1 heaped tbsp carob powder
Loeb H, Vandenplas Y, Wursch P, Guesry P. Tannin-rich carob pod for the treatment of acute-onset diarrhea. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1989 May;8(4):480-5
3 tbsp hemp protein powder
Cherniack EP. Polyphenols: planting the seeds of treatment for the metabolic syndrome. Nutrition 2011 Jun;27(6):617-23
Hulled hemp seeds to sprinkle (optional)
Ruiz-Roso B, Quintela JC, de la Fuente E, Haya J, Perez-Olleros L. Insoluble carob fiber rich in polyphenols lowers total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic sujects. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Mar;65(1):50-6 Ortega N, Macia A, Romero MP, Trullols E, Morello JR, Angles N, Motilva MJ. Rapid determination of phenolic compounds and alkaloids of carob flour by improved liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Aug 26;57(16):7239-44. Custodio L, Fernandes E, Escapa AL, Fajardo A, Aligue R, et al. Antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of carob tree fruit pulps are strongly influenced by gender and cultivar. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jul 13;59(13):7005-12 Custodio L, Escapa AL, Fernandes E, Fajardo A, Aligue R, et al. Phytochemical profile, antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) germ flour extracts. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2011 Mar;66(1):7884 Klenow S, Jahns F, Pool-Zobel BL, Glei M. Does an extract of carob (Ceratonia siliquam L.) have chemopreventive potential related to oxidative stress and drug metabolism in human colon cells? J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Apr 8;57(7):2999-3004 Corsi L, Avallone R, Cosenza F, Farina F, Baraldi C, Baraldi M. Antiproliferative effects of Ceratonia siliqua L. on mouse hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. Fitoterapia. 2002 Dec;73(7-8):674-84. Hsouna AB, Saoudi M, Trigui M, Jamoussi K, Boudawara T, Jaoua S, Feki AE. Characterization of bioactive compounds and ameliorative effects of Ceratonia siliqua leaf extract against CCl₄ induced hepatic oxidative damage and renal failure in rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Dec;49(12):3183-91 Agrawal A, Mohan M, Kasture S, Foddis C, Frau MA, Loi MC, Maxia A. Antidepressant activity of Ceratonia siliqua L. fruit extract, a source of polyphenols. Nat Prod Res. 2011 Feb;25(4):450-6. Writtten by Josie Cowgill Newsletter Design & photography by New Gaia Designs
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