The Trail Mix Trials
Feeding an Addiction or Feeding Your Face?

Carob: Not Just for Dogs and Devils

About three months ago, we took a long weekend get-away to the Grand Canyon.  We do not have human children (you can probably tell due to my excess time to write blog entries about trail mix), we have dog children and most of the time they go with us on our travels.  (I promise myself and you that this won’t turn into a blog about my dogs, even though it wouldn’t surprise any one if it did.) 

On day one, we drove into lovely Sedona to explore.  We left the “kids” at the hotel room because we didn’t think we could take them into the stores and restaurants in town.  Feeling a bit guilty for abandoning them in a strange place, when we saw the Three Dog Bakery, we swiftly picked up a box of peanut butter-filled “chocolate” cookies for them. 

If they weren't for dogs, I'd have eaten the entire box.

If they weren't for dogs, I'd have eaten the entire box.

These things looked so good I had to have Scott hide them after I had two glasses of wine later that night, so I wouldn’t get tipsy and eat them.  Trust me, I considered it long and hard and even read the ingredients – nothing that a human wouldn’t eat in them … but something mysterious called carob.

 

Fast forward a few months to the point where my addiction got so bad that it became blog-worthy.  Now back home in San Diego, I’m browsing around the bulk bins at Henry’s and what do I see … carob trail mix.  What the hell is it?  It looks like chocolate, but it isn’t. 

The Mecca

The Mecca

After doing some research, this is what I learn:

Non-fleshy and bean-like, the carob would not be generally regarded as a fruit, in the food-use sense, except for its sweetness. To many people it is familiar only by name as “St. John’s Bread”, in allusion to the “locusts” which, according to the Bible, sustained St. John the Baptist in the desert, and the “husks” which tempted the hungry Prodigal Son, though “no man gave unto him.” The word “locust” was originally applied to the carob tree; later to migratory and other grasshoppers; and the name is attached to a number of other leguminous trees with pinnate leaves and oblong pods (Gleditsia, Hymenaea, Parkia, Robinia).

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I need to brush up on my biblical studies, but I’m pretty sure this excerpt is saying that carob is the food of the devil.  Right? “Locusts.” “Tempted.” “Prodigal Son.”  Those are not good things, last I checked.

So then why would people want to feed it to dogs – and apparently humans want to eat it too? Reading on, I learn that:

Unlike cocoa, carob does not contain caffeine or theobromine, another mild stimulant that actually elevates mood in humans but is the reason large quantities of chocolate are dangerous to dogs and cats.  People who are allergic to chocolate can generally eat carob without a problem (as can dogs and cats).  Carob powder is naturally sweeter and lower in fat than cocoa powder. However, the fat and sugar added to both powders to turn them into something tasty wipes out those differences.

Got it.  But I’m still not sold.  If the health benefits are negligible, then why would I forgo chocolate for carob? Science.  That’s why. I’ll do (almost) anything in the name of science.

So last night, I go into Henry’s and get myself a big scoop of Carob Trail Mix.  In order for the cashier to know how to ring you up, you have to write the item number on the tab that closes your bag. Guess what number belongs to this blend: 6660.  Yes, it has 666 – the number of satan!!!!

If I wasn’t a skeptic before, I am now convinced this is the food of the devil. 

Back in my car, I apprehensively reach in and take a handful.  Suspicious of what my taste buds might think, I only nibble a few pieces at a time.  Holy crap – it is good.

The mix features:

  • carob chips
  • raisins
  • walnuts (probably the best walnuts I’ve ever had – not bitter at all)
  • peanuts
  • coconut shavings

This is damn good.  So much so, that I ate the whole bag in seven minutes flat.  No wonder my dogs liked those cookies – I should have gone with my instinct and tried them too.  No wonder we never hear of locust trees or the prodigal son relating to carob any more – it’s not the food of the devil!

Hallelujah!  Carob is one trail mix ingredient worth the trial. 

(I should also add that it is cheap – I bought one bag of trail mix and one bottle of water for a grand total of $1.38.)

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One Response to “Carob: Not Just for Dogs and Devils”

  1. My experience with carob is that it is my favorite topping on frozen yogurt hands down. They always have them at the yogurt shops no matter where you go! Why I like carob chips on my yogurt as opposed to chocolate chips is that when the carob chips get cold from the yogurt they get a nice crunch to them that partners amazingly with the creaminess of the yogurt. Try it out sometime!


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