Chocolate is rich and dreamy, but for some migraine sufferers it can be a nightmare…If the cocoa bean triggers throbbing migraine headaches, then meet its healthier, alter-ego, the carob seed.
What exactly is carob?
This non-migraine inducing treat was popular in the 70’s, but has since faded into the limelight. While the taste doesn’t exactly match the delectable flavor of cocoa, it does have a unique, slightly sweeter essence that can satisfy many a sweet tooth- all without triggering a migraine or giving you caffeine high.
“…a Mediterranean tree, Ceratonia siliqua, of the legume family, bearing long, leathery pods containing hard seeds and sweet, edible pulp.” Dictionary.com
Carob vs. cocoa
Is carob really healthier than chocolate? Here are some hard, cold facts in the cocoa-carob debate:
- First, scientists strongly suspect that chocolate is one of many food ingredients that trigger migraine headaches. Other health experts disagree, explaining that chocolate cravings may be a migraine with aura symptom that occurs one or two days before a migraine strikes. There are no correlations between migraines and carob.
- Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are stimulants that may trigger migraines. Carob, on the other hand, contains neither.
- Chocolate induces feelings of well-being by triggering the brain to produce opiates that dull pain (migraines?). Unfortunately, carob has no such euphoric effect.
- Carob provides three times more calcium than chocolate.
- Carob is naturally sweeter and less bitter than chocolate, so it requires much less sugar in dessert recipes- nearly half.
- Carob powder and carob chips are available at most health food stores, and may be substituted for chocolate in most recipes. It is worth noting, though, that carob burns at a lower temperature than chocolate.
Here are a few carob dessert recipes that will fit into your migraine diet. The first, Carob Mousse Pie, is from The Complete Carob Cookbook by Kathy Collins, and accessed from culinate.com. The second is a recipe for brownies for migraine sufferers who have included gluten-free dieting in their migraine management, taken from About.com.
Carob Mousse Pie
- 4 ounces of carob chips
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 1 TB of brown sugar, or equivalent
- 3-ounce package of cream cheese
- 8-ounce container of non-dairy whipped topping
- Graham cracker crust, or baked pie crust
Gently warm the carob chips with milk in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until melted. Take off heat.
Beat the sugar and cream cheese with hand mixer or food processor. Incorporate carob mixture. Continue to beat until smooth.
Fold mixture into whipped topping, mixing gently.
Spoon into crust and freeze until solid.
Gluten-Free Carob Brownies
- ½ cup your favorite gluten-free all-purpose or baking flour
- 6 TB carob powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup of chopped nuts (pecans are healthy for migraine sufferers!)
- 1 TB of gluten-free powdered sugar substitute for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 8” by 8” baking pan.
In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
Separately, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well.
Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until combined.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake about 25-35 minutes, checking often for doneness (when toothpick inserted in center comes out dry).
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