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Monday, June 25, 2012

is cacao superfood or toxic? introducing great carob

Ok, I admit it. I do love chocolate!
Most of the chocolate indulgence that I have is the best quality raw chocolate 

there are negative things that a study has found...
cacao is addictive
cacao is toxic to the liver
Chocolate contains caffein, theobromine
it acts as a stimulant and agitates the kidneys and adrenal glands

then there are some positive findings
It contains mood enhancing neurotransmitters
contains the amino acid tryptophan
high in essential minerals such as, magnesium, iron and copper 
high in anti-oxidant

so who and what to believe?
personally I would love to believe that cacao is superfood that you SHOULD have everyday. But unfortunately I don't think it is. I don't think it is harmful and something that you need to avoid totally. I do realise that cacao is a stimulant and it does make me hard to go to sleep if I have it too late at night. If you know what effect a certain food has on you physically and mentally, you can control it. Say you need to drive a long way  and you don't want to fall a sleep behind the wheels, you may choose to have chocolate instead of a strong cup of coffee.
It is the power of knowledge.

So as much as I love chocolate, I have been having carob instead. Sometimes I mix it with cocoa but I came to love its flavour itself. It was hard to find raw carob in australia but not anymore. I found Australian Carobs 
they produce different products including raw carob powder and also kibbles. Carob syrup is not raw but great sweetener to have as well
And the great thing about the company is that it is run by these people who are so passionate about what they do. I was fortunate enough to interview them as well as having my recipes using their wonderful carob products on their website.

So here is the interview with the owner Michael Jolly from South Australia

What motivated you to start a carob farm? 
-I have been a gardener for the past 20 years and 12 years ago I saw there were no Australian produced carob products so my wife and I looked at growing carobs trees and selected sweet tasting varieties to plant and now we have found that with using these sweet tasting pods the products taste amazing.
I know you have different varieties of carob trees. How did you decide which ones to get and do you mix them together to create a good flavour carob powder? 
When we first looked at planting carob trees we saw an orchard not far from where we live with many varieties planted and then spoke to Colin at Limestone Station in Broken Hill who just started a carob nursery and grafting selected varieties. From there we decided on the varieties we wanted which are all sweet tasting but some more than others so the great flavour is achieved in all our products not just the powder.
How important is it for you to ensure that your company use sustainable farming practice and no chemicals used to on the trees. (very important for me!)
-I believe it is very important to use sustainable farming methods because there are is lots of goodness in the ground so why kill it. We use a plough to turn the weeds into the soil between the rows of the trees and very little weeds grow under the trees it-self. Chemicals are very expensive so we can not only save money but also benefit by having happy healthy trees to produce pods. We keep the trees well watered as they require through the year.
why is carob good for our health?
-Carob is very good for your health due to the fibre is an insoluble binding fibre which helps lower cholesterol and helps the digestion process and is said to help with weight loss, carob fibre helps condition the bowl and is used to treat diarrhea, carob tannins contain gallic acid that provides anti-allergic, antiseptic and bacterial benefits, carob has vitamins A, B, D and E which helps cough and flu and the more research done the more they find out about the health benefits of carob
anything else to add?
-Carob is normally planted for the seed which is a valuable emulsifier but we have selected varieties based on the taste of the pod itself and with doing this has given a top quality tasting product.

Banana and Carob ice-cream tart with strawberry sorbet 

Tart Crust

1/2 cup dry coconut
1/4 cup brazil nut (preferably activated)
1/2 cup raisin
Food process all the ingredients together till it becomes crumbly.
Banana and Carob Ice-cream
1 large banana
1 tbs raw carob powder
20g melted coconut oil/ butter
1/2 tsp carob syrup
Pulse briefly to get a chunky texture
Using a cookie cutter, evenly distribute the crust mixture by pushing it into shape.
Top it with the ice-cream mixture then the strawberry topping
Drizzle melted coconut butter (1-2 tbs)
serve immediately

Carob Cookie

1/2 cup raw almond (activated if possible for better digestion) or use almond flour (meal)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup raw carob powder
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
1 tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1. Food process the almond till it becomes flour like. Be careful not to over process. If you are using almond flour (meal) you can skip this process.
2. Add rest of the ingredients and process till it forms a dough
3. Shape and dehydrate till the desired consistency is achieved. Alternatively you may like to bake at 180 degrees centrigrade for 15-20 minutes or simply chill in a fridge.

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