Being the documentary queen that I am, I chose to watch the 2009 Swedish documentary “Bananas!” yesternight. It paints the sad picture of banana workers working in Nicaragua for the Dole Food Company who became sterile from overexposure to the DBCP pesticide used on the banana plantations there despite it being banned all over the world. I highly recommend this documentary to anyone and everyone who is interested in knowing where their food comes from, which should always be a determining factor when making food choices. After viewing this documentary, I’ll personally never buy a non-fair-trade (and organic) banana again.
Here is the trailer:
On a more upbeat note, this recipe represents my reasonably successful attempt at integrating carob into a recipe. By the way, have you ever heard of carob? Please allow me to introduce it.
Carob is an ingredient oft used in the place of chocolate. It has numerous uses, including in baking, hot beverages and candies. The main advantage of carob is that it does not contain caffeine or theobromine, both naturally-occuring chemicals found in chocolate and considered stimulants. Caffeine’s stimulant effect is exerted on the central nervous system whereas theobromine acts as a stimulus for the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Although caffeine and theobromine are thought to have benefits (protection against Parkinson’s, lifting mood, etc.), I think we can all relate to the fact that it is possible to be overstimulated and overly wired (hello shaking hands that make me look nervous when I’m really not, haha).
Did you know number #1: Theobromine is the component in chocolate that is toxic for dogs, which is why chocolate flavoured dog treats are made using carob. Hey, if it’s good enough for the pooches, it’s good enough for me. 😉
So why is carob an interesting chocolate substitute? For one, it doesn’t contain any stimulants. It does however contain the much talked about flavanols that people use as justification for their daily chocolate fix (the more excuses to eat chocolate, the better, am I right?). The only downfall of carob is that, in my humble chocolate-loving opinion, the flavour is actually rather dissimilar to that of chocolate. Maybe its use as a chocolate substitute has more to do with its colour than the actual flavour, which brings me to “Did you know number two”.
Did you know number #2: If you add yellow food colouring to vanilla pudding, people will tend to think it tastes like lemon. And, if you serve people Cheetos without the neon orange colour, they will find the cheese taste less potent. Goes to show how much the sense of sight is involved in what we taste. 🙂
From a nutritional standpoint, carob has roughly 3 times as much calcium as cocoa, but cocoa comes out on top when it comes to minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and overall flavanol content. Cue Queen’s “We Are the Champions” for chocolate. 😉
What is the bottom line? For people trying to avoid or reduce caffeine and theobromine intake (such as myself – my caffeine tolerance is laughable), carob may be a wise and calcium-rich alternative. If you are not too affected by such stimulants, chocolate may come out as having more health benefits, and you may prefer its taste. Regardless of whether you vote for cocoa or carob or Pedro, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for other joyriders that may be trying to tag along, namely sugar and modified milk substances. 😉
Without further chitchat, here’s the recipe for the smoothie I’ve been sipping on today. I’m rather taken with this recipe, which yields 4 portions:
Banana, Carob, Lucuma & Mesquite Smoothie
- 4 organic fair-trade bananas
- 4 tsp. carob
- 4 Medjool dates, soaked in water
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water
- 4 tsp. lucuma powder
- 2 tsp. mesquite
- 2/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup almond milk
- 3-4 ice cubes
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender.
- Add lid to your blender.
- Plug in your blender.
- Press the “blend” button.
- Ingest the liquid nutrition.
It’s hard to stop at one glassful. You’ve been forewarned.
Let me know what you think! Do you find this drink tastes like chocolate?