My girlfriend Alex mentioned to me today that she wanted to buy some carob powder, as she had never before used it. I told her I used it all the time in my smoothies because it gives me the chocolatey richness I crave without the added caffeine kick. She then blew my mind by saying “did you know carob comes from a pea?”
Well no, I didn’t. I then went straight to Google to do some intense research (cough, Wikipedia) and freaked my freak. Mainly what scared me is that I had been eating the stuff without giving a second thought to where it comes from. It really isn’t too surprising that carob comes from a pea when chocolate comes from Cacao, which is a bean.
So, a bit about carob. The sweet stuff comes from a tree that is a member of the legume family, and grows in long, broad pea pods. They are then dried and ground for consumption, although the pea pods are often used as animal feed, and as a thickening agent in many processed foods. Carob is viewed as a healthier alternative to chocolate because of the previously mentioned lack of caffeine, and because since the stuff is naturally sweet carob products contain much less sugar, if any at all. High in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, carob can be substituted for chocolate in baking, although the flavor is different. I find that carob has less of a richness and lacks the bite of a good piece of dark chocolate, but it is very nice and nutty.
I can now go to sleep well rested as I now know that carob comes from pea pods..so..that makes it a vegetable!? Right? Right?!