Cutting Cocoa & Carob Bites

Carob BitesAfter almost nearly three months of lockdown I felt I had used the time to my advantage, spending a lot of time reading, studying, walking and pottering in the garden.  I even managed to complete an online course in Therapeutic Art – more on that later.  However, as with all positives, there is usually a negative lurking in a dark corner somewhere.  Mine lay in the shape of Green & Black’s Chocolate.  Where I no longer smoke or drink, which historically were my two big vices, I guess I had to find a prop somewhere, and Green & Black’s were only too happy to provide it.  OK, so it was organic.  And yes, OK, I went for the 85% version which is so utterly angelic in composition to be considered a wholefood in its own right.  Yet here is a lesson to us all – MODERATION!  I have never been good at this.  My body has clearly clocked on to this in more recent years and is happy to make it quite clear to me when enough is enough.

And so appeared a rash.  A nasty, red, hive-like rash on both my left and right trunk.  And boy how it itched!  After a few weeks of this I hit the Piriton.  I’m not a lover of drugs in any shape or form, but the itch/scratch cycle wasn’t doing my skin any good.  And I wracked my brains, because if there is one thing I’ve learnt over the last few years, it’s that the cause nearly always lies in whatever we are putting into our bodies, not some random outside influence.

After a couple of days of “what have I changed”, I went back to that question for the hundredth time, just as I was about to pop two small square of Green & Black’s finest into my mouth when, BOOM!!!  Could it be?  Had I overdone it?  Please God, not my beloved …. CHOCOLATE???!!!  Oh lord, the shock.  I popped another two small squares as triage and ran for my nearest device to ask Doctor Google.  And so it would seem that a chocolate allergy is a thing with Hollyoaks actress Gemma Bissix succumbing to the same dire fate after she too ate too much of the stuff.

So I finished my supplied (due to lockdown I had been stockpiling, so this task took a few days), merrily itching as I went, and faced up to the fact that life ahead was going to be a bleak, Green & Blacks free world.  And then I hit Google for a second time to see what alternatives there were to cocoa.  Because a girl needs a chocolate hit in some form, right?  Even if it’s a fake one.  I’ll be honest with you, I did appear to be asking for the impossible, but I came across carob as being a recommended alternative and as I turned out to have a bag of the stuff hidden at the back of the cupboard, I decided to give these carob bites a try.  They’re delicious!  These little beauties have become my go-to treat now and I always make sure I have a batch nestled in a corner of the fridge.  Don’t expect a replica of any kind of chocolate you’ve previously experienced, this is different.  I would say it was more along the lines of a dark treacle kind of taste than chocolate, but it works as a simple, healthy alternative.  If you’re looking to reduce your chocolate consumption, give this recipe a try today.  Enjoy!

 CAROB BARS

 INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp carob
  • 170g almond butter or cashew butter
  • ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup buckwheat flakes or rolled oats
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Almond milk as required

METHOD

  1. In the food processor, add 2 tablespoons of honey, the carob, vanilla extract, salt, and almond butter.
  2. Line a 14 centimetre square dish with parchment/baking paper.
  3. Toast the oat flakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a dry pan on medium-hot until fragrant and golden around the edges and you can hear the pumpkin seeds starting to pop — keep it moving, otherwise the little bits will start burning. Tip into the food processor.
  4. Pulse the food processor a few times, then scrape down the sides and pulse again — do this until you have a rough texture.  If the mixture seems a little dry and is struggling to bind, add a dash of almond milk and pulse again.  Add more almond milk until you have a firm almost pastry like mixture.
  5. Turn the mixture out into the lined dish and start to press down firmly and evenly all over until the surface is flat and even.
  6. Cover and pop into the fridge to cool, then take a knife and slice into 1 inch square bites. Store in an airtight container for a week, or store extra in the fridge and enjoy for weeks to come.

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