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Carob Bites

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Feel like sweets but trying to avoid refined sugar? How about something that’s naturally sweet and nutritious?!  Combining just three main ingredients will get you there!  Most recipes for raw desserts include dates but I made this simple dessert with prunes instead. You can substitute your favorite nut and dried fruit and have similar results. I will list some options…


Carob Bites
(Makes 8 pieces)
¾ cup walnuts/pecans/brazil nuts/almonds/macademia nuts/hazelnuts/cashews/peanuts
1 cup prunes/dates/raisins/dried apricots
¼ cup carob powder
1 vanilla bean/few drops of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)


Is carob better than cocoa/cacao?
It’s not about one being better than the other. It’s more of a personal choice. I believe everybody is familiar with cocoa/cacao and maybe less familiar with, or never heard of, carob. Some people are worried about the stimulating effects or the caffeine content of chocolate. Carob has no caffeine and if you suffer from headaches after eating a chocolate bar, then carob may be a better choice for you. It is also practically fat-free and has a lot less calories than cocoa. An added benefit is that it’s very high in calcium and has no oxalic acid so your body will probably be able to absorb some of that calcium. Since it’s naturally sweet, when used in recipes, less sweetener is needed!

Dried fruits in the running...
So how do they compare? The reason dates are so popular is their flavor. They have a naturally very sweet, caramel-like taste and a smooth, creamy texture when mixed with other ingredients so they’re easy to work with. They are quite nutritious too…very high in fiber and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Prunes have a somewhat lower fiber content and, of course, will not have the same flavor but they’re also high in minerals and very high in vitamin K. (I decided to use them this time because I’m very sensitive to fructose and can’t tolerate too much dates….so I’m experimenting with different dried fruits.)
Golden raisins and dried apricots are also high in minerals and most dried fruits will have similar mineral content but raisins stand out with their vitamin B6 content and apricots are very high in vitamins A and E. So pick one of them, see how you like it, and maybe try a different one next time.

Why go nuts?
They’re good for you! Nuts are very high in fat…that is, the good kind you want to eat! In general, they’re high in minerals, fiber, and protein. They are, however, very different in flavor, texture and additional health benefits. Some are also oilier than others and some may work better in one recipe than another. Let’s compare them…
As far as flavor…well, everyone is going to favor a different one and you’ll have to try them all because they do have very distinct flavors. Cashews have a very buttery texture. Walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, and macademia nuts taste oilier, while almonds hazelnuts and peanuts seem dryer. But when we look at mineral content…wow, they’re all packed with nutrition and it’s best to eat all of them once in a while because they contain different stuff! Going down the list…almonds are the highest in calcium, vitamin E, and riboflavin. Walnuts win if you’re looking to increase your omega 3 intake, and they’re a good source of vitamin B6. Pecans are the highest in fat and very high in manganese. Brazil nuts, of course, are the all time selenium president and the highest in magnesium, and phosphorus as well. Macademia nuts win the thiamin level competition. Hazelnuts are, by far, the richest in manganese and rich in vitamin B6. Peanuts have the most protein, niacin, and pantothenic acid. And cashews take three trophies, for iron, zinc, and copper content!

Once you picked a fruit and a nut…

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until you get a smooth and somewhat sticky mixture. Check and see if it needs a spoonful of water to hold together, and if you don’t think it’s sweet enough, then add some of your favorite sweetener. Pour the mixture into a bowl and roll into bite size balls, or press the balls flat into cookies, or use molds if you want them to be a certain shape. Decorate them with nuts or seeds or dried fruit. I placed a goji berry on top of each piece. Enjoy! : )


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