Following the rules isn’t in my nature of doing things. Even when it comes to recipes, I prefer to experiment with the different types of ingredients based on my preferences and intuition as I think it would be more authentic to make a dish that you really like. So when it comes to writing recipes, my rule of thumb is to provide a rough ratio just so you can get the right consistency, texture or flavour. When it comes to condiments and toppings, go wild, my friend. If you dislike apples in my oatmeal recipe, substitute it with bananas. If you prefer a creamier oatmeal, add more soymilk. Do not be afraid of experimenting with ingredients or even go by your intuition to cook a dish. A recipe is not strictly a mathematical formula but an artwork.
This week I would like to share with you a favourite recipe of mine which I’ve decided to experiment with this new ingredient in my pantry. I was introduced to carob when I first got to know about raw veganism and this ingredient is mainly used as a substitute for chocolate. They tend to go for carob because it is caffeine-free, theobromine-free and can be eaten raw. Even dogs can enjoy caffeine-free chocolate too. If you didn’t know, carob is used in dog treats!
Carob has this hint of chocolate flavour which can be described as warm, sweet and somewhat ‘chocolatey’. It also has this dry after-taste but unlike cocoa, it isn’t bitter at all. Appearance-wise, it looked no different from chocolate except that the colour of carob powder isn’t as dark and as intense as cocoa powder. As a cooking ingredient, I find it easier to work with carob than cocoa powder because carob is more soluble and dissolves quickly in milk to form a ‘chocolate’ sauce.
When I compare the nutrition level of carob and cocoa, the findings are interesting. Cocoa might have a higher level of iron and magnesium than carob but it has a higher percentage of fat as compared to carob. Carob also has a higher level of dietary fibre than cocoa. But all these doesn’t make cocoa less healthy than carob. It just goes to show that there’s really a lot of plant-based superfoods out there which we’ve yet to discover. But these days, all these superfoods are made more accessible to us and we can incorporate them into our diets to benefit what nature has provided us with.
I will be sharing more about this amazing fruit of the carob tree as through the upcoming carob recipes which I will be posting up on my blog soon. To get acquainted with carob, it is to add them to your smoothies, cereals or oatmeal. I enjoy mixing some carob with apples into my oatmeal and here’s the recipe.
Carob Apple Oatmeal
Chopped apples (1/2 cup)
Steel-cut oats (3 tablespoons)
Roasted Carob powder (1 tablespoon)
Oven-baked Carob kibbles (1 tablespoon)
Vanilla powder (1/4 teaspoon)
Nutmeg (1/3 teaspoon)
Cinnamon (1/3 teaspoon)
Soymilk (150 ml )
Water (150 ml )
Carob syrup (1/2 teaspoon) (optional)
Preparation time: 35 min
I like to cook a portion of the apples with the oats to soften it and leave the other portion as toppings for my oatmeal as I enjoy the crunched. If you prefer a sweeter fruit, you can try banana.
Cooking the chopped apples with the oatmeal helps to sweeten it up. I would cook my oatmeal first before adding the chopped apples.
There are various types of oatmeals available in the supermarket these days. If you are in a rush, you can use rolled oatmeal instead. It takes about 10 minutes to cook them on medium boil. However, if you are using steel-cut oats, it will take about 20 to 25 minutes on low heat. Steel-cut oats need to be cooked slowly, at a low heat to allow the oats to expand and soften. I prefer steel-cut oats because it is so much creamier when cooked and has a chewier texture like porridge. If you are using steel-cut oats, you will need to add more water if needed to ensure that it doesn’t dry up.
You can cook it alone with water or add some milk like soy milk to give it a creamier texture. You should add some water for the steel-cut oats to be cooked first before adding the soymilk. The oats get cooked faster in this way. Add more water if you find that it is getting too dry.
You will know that your oatmeal is cooked when it comes very creamy like congee and the oats tasted soft.
After the oats and apples are cooked, I will leave it to cool for a bit before adding the toppings. You can stir in the carob powder into the oatmeal when it is slightly cooled. But for me, I prefer to layer the carob powder onto of my apples and then mixed it together with all the toppings.
As for the following dry ingredients, I would add in only after the oatmeal is cooled down because I didn’t want the heat to destroy all the beneficial nutrients in it.
I prefer using vanilla powder over essence as I find the flavour to be more intense.
And if you are using apples in your oatmeal, you should not miss out adding cinnamon and nutmeg. Both spices enhance the sweet and fruity flavour of the apples and it complements with carob too.
Less is more. You will just need little spices to bring out the taste of the apples.
To add some crunch, I like to add the oven-baked carob kibbles. Some say it tasted like cocoa nibs or chocolate chips. It is chewy and sweet. It’s a good topping in smoothie bowls. You could also toss in some nuts or granola too.
The carob powder should add some sweetness to your oatmeal. So when I use carob, I would not add any sugar in it. But if my oatmeal is still not sweet enough, I would drizzle some carob syrup over the oatmeal. The carob syrup is a unique sweetener because of its warm and earthy flavour. It is perfect for sweetening up sauces to give it a nice colour and taste.
Thank goodness for such alternatives to chocolate which could help us enhance the nutrition value of our meals. Forget about chia seeds and acai, try carob.
All carob products I’ve used in this recipe is from The Australian Carob Co.