Ahe, the sweet, rich taste of chocolate. Millions of people loves the taste of this decadent dessert. Yet, many people can not taste one sip or one bite of this tasting temptation because they are allergic to it.
An allergy reaction to chocolate can show up in many different ways. A person may experience skin problems such as hives and itching. They could experience gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting. They also can experience bad headaches, including migraines.
A person can also develop an allergy over time. This means you may go half of your life able to eat chocolate without any reaction or without realizing you are having an allergic reaction to chocolate. Then suddenly the allergic reactions start or you finally pinpoint that your symptoms are because of an allergy. For these people, it can be even harder to avoid the temptation. Why? We are human and we usually crave what we can’t have. If you have already tasted this delicious treat, you realize what you are missing. For this reason, it makes it easier on people who were diagnosed earlier in life, before any real memories of the taste of chocolate can form in their minds.
Yet, chocolate lovers and people with chocolate allergies have another choice when they are craving their favorite dessert. Carob.
What is Carob?
Carob comes from the gummy substance that is found in seeds of Carob trees, which are usually grown in the Mediterranean regions.
You can buy carob in many forms. For baking, you can buy it in powder form, drops and chips. When using carob powder as a substitute for 1 square baking chocolate (one ounce) mix 3 tablespoons of carob powder to 1 tablespoon of water or vegetable oil. You can then use it just as you would any cocoa. Carob can be added to cake mixes, candy recipes, and cookie recipes as a substitute for chocolate. If you add a little bit of carob to white bark, you can even make your own fudge.
You can also buy carob in a syrup form to make drinks such as hot chocolate.
If baking is not your idea of fun, you can even buy candy bars, cookies, etc made out of carob at many health food stores and through many different sites over the internet.
Carob comes from trees from the Mediterranean region. It contains no chocolate, no cocoa, no sugar and no caffeine. Yet, it has its own naturally sweet taste. Many people believe this makes carob more nutritional than chocolate.
As for the taste itself, many people can not tell the difference between cakes that are baked with traditional cocoa and those that are baked from carob powder. The candies are really good, too.
If you want a sweetened alternative to hot chocolate or chocolate milk, you may want to consider buying carob in its liquid form. The powder form doesn’t dissolve in liquids very well.
Carob is a miracle for those who are allergic to chocolate, but still suffer from the occasional chocolate craving.
Chocolate: Friend or Foe
I think I probably eat some chocolate every day. I love it. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, high end and a good old Hershey bar. For some, however, chocolate just doesn’t work. There can be a few reasons why, whether it’s an allergy to the milk in the chocolate or the nuts used in the factory, or maybe a sensitivity to the caffeine in the chocolate. Perhaps this piece will help you if you suffer from any of these and are still searching for the perfect bite of chocolate.
First off, obviously milk chocolate contains milk, does dark chocolate? I recently came across an article discussing this very point. Yes, dark chocolate does contain milk; it is the cocoa content that is higher to give it its darker, more strong flavor. And just like milk chocolate, the milk is usually cow’s milk. There are some dairy free manufacturer’s out there, and you can find some of them in health food stores or higher end grocers, or order on line. Be careful though, and check to see if the chocolate is made in a shared facility/on shared equipment with milk if that is a factor for you. Some of these manufacturer’s maintain a dairy free plant, while others just have some dairy free products. The above site has a good list of places to check.
As for nuts, sure you can buy chocolate without nuts pretty easily, but again, you need to be wary of shared facilities and shared equipment. Again, there are some brands you can buy in your regular markets that are safe; you may have to search harder for others. I was told Hershey’s non-nut chocolates are made in a nut free plant, I am not completely sure of that, but here is some good information from Hershey’s regarding their allergen policy.
You can look into places like Vermont Nut Free Chocolates that offer chocolates completely peanut and tree nut free. Vermont nut free offers a large selection of fun shaped chocolate and milk, dark and white chocolates along with truffles and other products.
Sometimes if you have a caffeine allergy/sensitivity, chocolate can affect you as well. Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk, about three times as much. An ounce of milk chocolate has about the amount of caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee. White chocolate has no or very trace amounts of caffeine, as it is not really chocolate. Unfortunately, you can’t get caffeine free dark or milk chocolate, but the amounts really are quite low. If you feel you are still affected by the caffeine in chocolate, try the white, it may satisfy you without bothering you with caffeine.
Like I said, I think I eat chocolate every day. I think it’s good for the soul. Not if you are allergic to its ingredients, though. With these sites, you may be able to find something that works for you even if you have some trouble with chocolate. Best of luck and I think hear my chocolate calling me…