Carob Haystack Recipe

Are you familiar with carob? Or, do you only associate it with the vegan chocolate chips that come in the bulk section of your co-op (read: hippie food)? Carob is a great ingredient and I have been playing with it a lot the last six months.

If you have started the autoimmune paleo protocol (AIP), or worked with me doing an elimination, you know how hard taking chocolate out of your diet is! So, carob is a great add-in or solution!

These carob haystacks are AIP and will have you satisfied when a chocolate craving sets in. Plus, this recipe is so simple, you'll be adding them to your quick-fix-mix.

Though they have a "chocolate" flavor, they are made without cocoa (interchangeable with cacao).

So, what's the difference in carob and cocoa?

You can think of carob as similar to vanilla, being a bean pod, yet with bigger beans inside. You can think of cocoa as similar to coffee, being a fruit that contains a seed (we call it a bean) which is harvested, dried and roasted.

Many people with autoimmunity can tolerate carob over cocoa, because of these factors:

  • Cocoa is a gluten cross-reactive food. That means your body can still read cocoa as gluten. Why is that? The proteins in certain foods are mistaken as gluten in your body. When you have gluten sensitivity, this is problematic because your body cannot tell the difference. It thinks you are having a gluten bar, not a chocolate bar. Ouch! To read more about gluten cross-reactivity, see Sarah Ballantyne's article here.

  • Cocoa is a seed. On the autoimmune paleo protocol (AIP), seeds and nuts are avoided. Why are seeds avoided? It boils down to gut health. One reason seeds are hard to digest because they contain an enzyme inhibitor, phytic acid. That means they are hard to break down. They can irritate your sensitive gut and increase gut permeability (leaky gut), which increases susceptibility to an autoimmune response in the body.

  • Cocoa contains caffeine. Caffeine increases cortisol. Why is that a problem? Cortisol is a normal hormonal response, yet can negatively affect the body when over-produced. Caffeine has the opportunity to spike your cortisol level in an unhealthy way. An abnormal or unhealthy spike in cortisol can disrupt your sleep, diminish cognitive function, increase inflammation, increase stress or poor mood and cause imbalance of immunity (over or under activate).

  • Cocoa can harbor mold. Mold is a neurotoxin, which is damaging to your nerves, brain and body's overall function. Why does cocoa have mold? Cocoa beans are harvested from a large fruit where they live in mucilaginous pulp. They must be extracted from the pulp, where they look similar to an almond. Then, laid to dry before the outer skin can be removed revealing the cocoa bean as we know it. Often, in this process, due to humid climate and harvesting conditions, mold forms on the beans. To learn more about mold as a neurotoxin, watch Dave Asprey's new film, Moldy, here.

I am not suggesting you give up chocolate or avoid cocoa forever, but it is worth testing. If you feel you have any negative reaction to cocoa, whether you want to believe it or not, I encourage you take it out of your diet for a bit. And, that's where carob comes in!

Carob is naturally sweet. It does not have the bitterness that cocoa has, so it does not need extra sweetener to make it palatable. I swear once you give these haystacks a try, you'll fall in love with carob. Enjoy!


By: Brandi Mackenzie | Yields 12 Haystacks

Ingredients 1/4 cup Refined Coconut Oil (for more buttery flavor) 1/4 cup Carob Powder 1/2 cup Shredded Coconut

Method 1. Line a sheet pan or flat plate with parchment paper. 2. Heat a small saute pan over low heat. Add coconut oil and let melt. 3. Stir in carob powder with a soft spatula, and continue stirring until fully incorporated. 4. Stir in shredded coconut until evenly distributed and coated. 5. Using a tablespoon or similar sized cookie scoop, place mounds of mixture onto parchment lined pan or plate, or in mini cupcake liners. 6. Place in refrigerator (or, freezer temporarily) until firm. Keep cold to maintain texture. But, let rest at room temp for a few minutes, just before eating so they're not too hard on your teeth!You can purchase super clean cocoa HERE! This Bulletproof cocoa (and their vanilla and coffee) is tested for neurotoxins like mold and heavy metals, yay!!

xo, B