Note: Today is the Jewish holiday of TuB’Shvat on the Jewish calendar, which is the very beginning of winter’s demise and spring’s renewal (in Israel.) Nevertheless, here in America, we can celebrate it with the fruits and nuts of trees. Here is an except from an article on this (minor) holiday, which has become a more important holiday of environmental awareness.
“… It’s a festive occasion, if a lesser known one, with wine, cakes and cookies and a candle-lit atmosphere, and is sometimes referred to as the Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, for trees. The day is also referred to as Jewish Arbor Day. Tu B’Shevat is passed by eating fruit native to the Holy Land, like olives, grapes, pomegranates and dates, as well as saying blessings and drinking wine.
Beginning at sunset and ending at sunset Wednesday, the holiday represents the beginning of spring, at which point the cold lessens, allowing sap to emerge from the trees and fruit to begin to grow. Fasting and eulogies on the holiday are forbidden, and an important custom is to eat fruits of the Seder and other traditional produce.
The loosely defined fruits of the Seder are: wheat, olives, dates, grapes, figs, pomegranates, citrons, apples, walnuts, almonds, carobs and pears.”
In Israel today ,this holiday is treated as an ecological one, with tree-planting events and other programs to raise environmental awareness. Here is America, children usually have a project of planting trees. Synagogues and families often hold a Seder with all the different kinds of declasses fruits & nuts that are available, with fresh & dried. I love it!
Carob pods hanging from the Carob Tree
I highlighted the foods in green to show you that one reason I like this holiday is that is perfect for everyone, because it includes so many wonderful fruits and nuts, foods that are important in a healthy diet. One of the important foods not mentioned is carob, or St. John’s bread, which is eaten on this holiday. Here is what chabad.org says: “In order to commemorate Tu B’Shevat, the custom evolved that we should do something to note a custom mentioned in the Talmud—at least in an indirect way—by eating carobs!”
Additionally carob powder can be used as an alternative to chocolate, although unless you are allergic to cocoa beans, I doubt anyone would do that. But if you are, then this might be a good alternative. Here is what www.botgard.ucla.org says about carob:
“The fruit of carob is a pod, technically a legume 15 to 30 centimeters in length and fairly thick and broad. Pods are borne on the old stems of the plant on short flower stalks. Interestingly, most carob trees are monoecious, with individual male and female flowers. The dark-brown pods are not only edible, but also rich in sucrose (almost 40% plus other sugars) and protein (up to 8%). Moreover, the pod has vitamin A, B vitamins, and several important minerals. They can be eaten directly by livestock, but we know carob mostly because the pods are ground into a flour that is a cocoa substitute.
Although this product has a slightly different taste than chocolate, it has only one-third the calories (total 1595 calories per pound), is virtually fat-free (chocolate is half fat), is rich in pectin, is nonallergenic, has abundant protein, and has no oxalic acid, which interferes with absorption of calcium. Consequently, carob flour is widely used in health foods for chocolate-like flavoring. A very fine polysaccharide gum–mucilaginous, odorless, tasteless, and colorless–can also be obtained from the pod and is now used in many products. There are also several putative medicinal uses of the plant, and singers formerly chewed the pod husks in the belief that this clears the throat and voice.
Most carob used in this country comes from the Mediterranean Region, especially Sicily, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, southern Sardinia, and Italy along the Adriatic Sea. Carob can be produced in California, and was grown for a while in the Southland, but this has not been economically successful because the land is too valuable to devote to this crop.”
Finally, in my cookbook, The Whole Foods Experience, available in MY BOOKS (https://www.menupause.info/index.php?cat=166), I have a recipe I made for my youngest child. I called it Almost Chocolate Pudding, but in the book it is called Banana Avocado Pudding. It uses carob, which has many good nutritional qualities of its own, to make a pudding without cooking. If you go to http://realrawfood.com/health-benefits-carob, you will see an organized list of them, including the fact that carob powder is high fiber, vitamin A and folate. (Some are mentioned in the earlier paragraphs.) Here is the recipe:
Almost Chocolate Pudding
Note: The flavor of the avocado disappears in the carob. It is the ingredient that makes the dish a pudding, or in a thinner form, a topping or icing. It is an alternative to chocolate, but does not taste exactly like chocolate, so I gave you a small portion recipe to try.)
Utensils: Food processor, cutting board & knife, measuring cup
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: NONE!
Categories: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Ingredients (These are approximate, because a medium avocado or small banana can vary, depending your perception of size. See direction #3.)
one medium ripe avocado
2-3 small bananas
1/2 cup of liquid (apple juice, grape juice, or 1 Tbl. pomegranate or cherry extract mixed with water)
1/2 cup unsweetened carob*
(Optional: couple of pinches of stevia powder)
1. Blend 1/2 cup of liquid with carob on low speed.
2. Add peeled and chopped avocado and banana, a little at a time.
3. For thinner consistency, add more liquid; for thicker, add more banana or avocado.
4. Chill & serve in small dishes. Makes 2 to 3 small servings.
Variations: Add some soaked chia seeds, sprinkle with unsweetened coconut or slivered almonds, add soaked dates instead of bananas.
This recipe lends itself well to other fruits that are soft and blend easily.
*Note: You can also use pure cocoa, but may have to add some kind of sweetener, such as stevia or honey, although the dates are a good sugar substitute.