While chocolate is a go-to dessert for many, it has some clear downsides. Loaded with sugar and caffeine, many people find it beneficial to cut out chocolate from their diets. Giving up chocolate can be easier than you think by simply substituting it with carob. Carob is a dark, sweet pod that comes from the carob tree, or Ceratonia siliqua, that grows in the Mediterranean. It’s color and naturally sweet taste make it the optimal chocolate substitute.
“The pods are collected when brown, they are broken open and the hard seeds removed. The empty pods are usually then washed, dry roasted to inactivate enzymes that would break the product down and then milled like wheat to a very fine brown powder which is naturally sweet,” explains the Carobana Confectionery Manufacturers and Retailers website. However, today we can get really raw carob powder. The raw processing by organic companies keeps the nutrients intact without the use of roasting or other high temperature processing.
Carob pods are harvested in the fall when they reach half a foot to a foot long. Carob trees can produce hundreds of pounds of these delicious and healthy pods.
Carob powder can be substituted for cocoa powder one-for-one in most recipes. If the recipe requires sugar or extra sweetener, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno and Lara Pizzorno, recommends it’s possible to completely eliminate the sugar since carob is naturally sweeter than chocolate.
Carob can be eaten fresh or dried. According to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, roasted carob is used in Germany and Spain as a coffee substitute or mixed in with coffee.
Carob has many additional health benefits lacking in traditional chocolate. Aside from less caffeine and sugar, carob also has more fiber, antioxidants, and is lower in fat. It also contains vitamins A, B2, B3, and B6 and minerals such as copper, calcium, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. It is also a good source of zinc, iron and selenium. Because of these many nutrients, carob is often good for skin and eye health. Chocolate, on the other hand, interferes with calcium absorption, contains high amounts of fat, and triggers migraines in some people.
According to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, carob has been used for its benefits dating back 4,000 years in Ancient Greece. In the 19th century, British singers used to chew on carob as a gum that helped clear their throats. Today, it is often used to aid weight loss, treat digestion issues, relieve diarrhea, help with gastro esophageal reflux disease, and lower blood pressure.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods and other experts recommend storing carob in airtight containers in cool, dry places for up to a year.
Written by Hannah Reasoner, Ramapo College Intern to Karen Ranzi, M.A.
Goldman, R., & Cirino, E. (2016, July 22). The Benefits of Carob. Retrieved November
13, 2016, from http://www.healthline.com/health/5-best-things-about-carob
Murray, M. T., Pizzorno, J. E., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods.
New York, NY: Atria Books.
Sugar, A. (2013, February 08). The Advantages of Carob. Retrieved November 11, 2016,
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