Why Carob vs. Cacao? + Carob Collagen Bites (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF)
When I looked at the autoimmune protocol (AIP) for the first time, I thought “NO CHOCOLATE!? NO WAY!!!”
At first glance, it might seem like you have to give up everything you love.
While there are several of our favourite things that we need to step away from (FOR A TIME!) there are so many amazing substitutes and nutritional upgrades that we can make without sacrificing flavour!
Instead of chocolate? We use carob.
Carob is made from the edible pods of a carob tree. The pods are dry roasted & ground into a slightly bitter, nutty-tasting powder that is extremely reminiscent of our beloved cacao powder.
Carob beats cacao on a couple of levels.
From an AIP perspective, cacao is avoided because because it is a seeds, which are avoided on this gut healing protocol because they contain phytic acid and digestive enzyme inhibitors. These compounds can irritate and inflame the gut lining leading to leaky gut and dysbiosis - which is exactly what we are trying to combat with the autoimmune protocol.
Although technically carob comes from a bean, which we would also avoid on the AIP, carob is given a pass because we only consume the ground up pod, which does not contain the same compounds, like lectins, that we would be avoiding by eliminating beans.
On top of that, carob has some nutritional advantages.
Carb is a fantastic source of calcium, WITHOUT oxalates. Oxalates are a compound that block mineral absorption. This means that other foods, like cacao, which contain both calcium and oxalates, are not actually effective sources of calcium.
Carob is also incredibly high in fibre, boasting almost 5 grams for every 2 tablespoons! Fibre is an incredibly important part of the AIP protocol as it helps to feed a healthy microbiome, maintains healthy bowel movements, controls your blood sugar and lowers your cholesterol. In fact, a 2010 study found that the antioxidant polyphenols in carob’s insoluble fibre, lowered total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol in subjects with high cholesterol (1).
Carob also contains tannins, a type of polyphenol, which make it an effective remedy for diarrhea - a common concern for those of us with digestive autoimmune disorders (2).
Carob is completely caffeine-free. Avoiding caffeine, although we don’t eliminate it on AIP, can be important part of the healing process for those of us with adrenal fatigue, digestive concerns or nervous system disorders.
Carob is a fantastic source of antioxidants. The polyphenol antioxidants found in carob, primarily gallic acid and flavonoids, have been shown to reduce oxidative stress. Gallic acid has also proved to scavenge free radicals and fight cancer cells, while flavonoids have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antidiabetic and neuroprotective properties (3).
Swapping cacao for carob may also help to reduce the occurrence of migraines and headaches. This is because cacao contains tyramine, a byproduct of the amino acid l-tyrosine. The National Headache Foundation has determined that tyramine may be a trigger for migraine headaches. Carob contains no tyramine and, therefore, may serve as a better option for people suffering from chronic migraines.
How do I use carob?
You can use carob 1:1 any way you may have used cacao or cocoa powder in the past.
It makes a lovely addition to smoothies or coconut yogurt.
You might consider adding it to a paleo bread dough or pancake batter.
I love making a carob hot “chocolate” in the winter and I look forward to my carob avocado pudding most nights.
You can even make your own chocolates out of carob and coconut manna!
And definitely don’t miss out on the opportunity to use it to make brownies!
Here are some of my favourite carob recipes:
My most recent carob creation?
These carob coconut bites are the PERFECT snack for any chocolate lover or sugar addict.
It uses carob instead of cacao and dates instead of sugar to give the flavour and feeling of a typical sweet treat.
Pop one between meals or enjoy a few more for dessert!
AIP does NOT have to mean deprivation! when you find ways to indulge on a diet like this, you make it realistic, and only then does it become really healing.
Carob Coconut Bites
(AIP, Paleo, V, GF, DF)
TIME: 20 minutes
SERVES: 15 bites
2 cups pitted medjool dates
3 tbsp hot water
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp carob powder
1 tbsp collagen powder
1) Boil water and add 3 tbsp to a dish with pitted dates. The water should completely cover the dates. Allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes.
2) Pour dates into the food processor with shredded coconut, carob and collagen.
3) Take out about a tbsp of the mixture at a time and roll into balls. Place evenly on a baking sheet.
4) Place baking sheet into the fridge for about an hour to all the balls to set.
5) Remove from fridge and enjoy!
Keep these in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7-10 days.
If you make this recipe, please feel free to take a pic and tag me on instagram @realistic.holistic and use #realisticholistic :) I’ll be sure to share your culinary adventure!
COMMENT below if you have any questions or comments about the recipe! I’m always here to help & I love hearing what your experience was with the recipe!
SHARE this with a your fellow chocolate-lovers or any loved one who is afraid to jump into AIP. Anyone can do it!
As always, thanks for stopping by!
Kisses & kombucha,