Q. Please tell me the differences between carob and chocolate and the advantages, if any, of carob over chocolate.
A. Carob is a tropical pod that contains a sweet, edible pulp and inedible seeds. After drying, the pulp is roasted and ground into a powder that resembles cocoa powder, but does not have the same flavor and texture of chocolate.
Cocoa powder and chocolate also come from a tropical pod. The pods hold cacao beans that are processed to make cocoa powder and chocolate. Cocoa powder and chocolate contain compounds thought to reduce artery-clogging plaque and lower cancer risk. Although allergies to chocolate are rare, some people report adverse reactions such as migraine headaches.
One tablespoon of unsweetened carob powder has 25 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 6 grams carbohydrate. By comparison, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 12 calories, 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 3 grams of carbohydrate.
Ounce for ounce, then, a candy bar made with carob has about the same amount of fat and calories as a chocolate bar, although the taste and texture are different. However, unlike cocoa powder and chocolate, carob is caffeine-free. Carob also contains three times as much calcium as cocoa powder.
While unsweetened carob powder may be naturally sweeter than cocoa powder, carob is not as flavorful as chocolate. To substitute carob powder for cocoa powder, replace one part cocoa with 2-1/2 parts carob powder by weight. Carob chips can easily be substituted for chocolate chips in recipes.
If you decide to include carob products in your meal plan, be sure to read the labels! You'll want to know what was added to the carob product and what the calorie, fat, and carbohydrate counts of the product are.