Confession: I Don't Eat Chocolate
When I was in my mid-20s, I started getting migraines. Thankfully, they weren't the painful ones, but migraines with aura that started off as a small blind spot in my vision and transformed into large curved lines of flashing lights. At the end of it all, I would be tired and sensitive to light.
Naturally, the first time I had an migraine with aura, I had no idea what was going on and thought I might be having a stroke. I was at work and tried to stay calm until my vision returned to normal. I hopped on to WebMD (which is usually the worst idea) but this time it actually made me feel a bit better. I didn't have an hour to live; I had just experienced my first aura.
From that point forward, I would have the migraines at least a couple times a month. They would come and go unpredictably and I had no idea what caused them. I eventually tried the elimination diet to nail down the culprit, and turns out it was (drumroll please) CHOCOLATE.
Listen, I was bummed. But I wasn't devastated. Other possible culprits included wine and cheese and I was too busy celebrating the fact that I could scarf down a grilled cheese with a Chardonnay chaser to mourn the loss of chocolatey goodness (and the caffeine often found in chocolate). I had never been a "chocoholic" so I sort of shrugged and moved on.
That was almost 10 years ago. And let me tell you, I miss chocolate! A sweet and sticky Snickers bar, a melt-in-your-mouth Butterfinger, chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, and my true long lost chocolate love: warm fudgy brownies topped with vanilla ice cream.
I thought I would never be able to enjoy these treats again. But as the song goes, "I once was lost, but now I'm found." In other words, I discovered Carob.
Carob comes from a flowering evergreen tree that produces edible carob pods. These pods can be ground up to create carob powder and/or carob chips as chocolate substitutes. Carob became a popular chocolate alternative in the 70s during the natural health food movement because it has no caffeine. I'm using popular lightly, because from what I've read, a lot of people hated the taste of carob.
But it has been a game changer for me. Does it taste just like chocolate? I can't remember what chocolate tastes like! But I do know that since discovering these Carob chips and this Carob powder during quarantine, I've had all the "chocolate chip" cookies and "brownies" my heart has desired.
If you're looking to cut down on your caffeine, have a dairy allergy that keeps you from eating milk chocolate, or have a chocolate intolerance like me (there are dozens of us! Dozens!) give carob a shot. Take this brownie recipe, a quality scoop of ice cream, and go to town.