What is a girl to do at 2 or 3 pm when she is at work, bored, stressed and wanting some sweet, sweet chocolate to satisfy her and give a little caffeine kick to get through the rest of the day? Choose from the following:

  1. Dig in your desk drawer for the secret stash of treats you keep for just such an occurrence
  2. Gchat your coworker for some goods
  3. Eat the last four pretzels, old lollipop, or piece of gum that you have in the drawer instead
  4. Heave a huge, suffering sigh and plan on hitting the drugstore on the way home for a bag of Hershey’s kisses

Unless the answer is #1 or #2, you’ll remain unsatisfied and will probably (but hopefully not) resort to #3 and eat anything you come across hoping it will soothe your demanding belly brain. Around my normal candy craving time (because I did #4 today), I Googled “healthy chocolate substitutes” and the most overwhelming answer was just chocolate. Some sites suggest dark chocolate to remove the milkfat content from the equation, but by and large, the best substitute for chocolate is none at all. Eat your chocolate, eat it in moderation, eat it dark and you’ll be better off that if you’d tried to squelch your cravings with an unsatisfactory substitute.

Wait, but what about carob? Carob is similar to chocolate in that it is made from the cacao beans, but it does not contain caffeine. Carob does contain more calcium than chocolate, but it is not as sweet. The flavor is slightly more bitter, with the degree of bitter depending on the use.

(Photo source: Happy Vegetable)

Earthfare has many carob coated confections in their bulk bins, with carob covered almonds and carob covered cherries being among my favorites. They definitely cost a bit more than hitting up the corner CVS for Raisinets or Hershey kisses with almonds (mmm), but per Earthfare’s Food Philosophy, I know that I’m not filling up on HFCS. If I find myself missing the caffeine hit, I can take a trip to the office coffee pot. I like to choose carob covered dried fruit so that the natural sugars in the fruit counteract the natural bitterness of the carob. There’s all the excuses one could use to not try carob, busted. Therefore, a trip to Earthfare is in order soon to fill up my work desk drawer with goodies that will keep me going strong for the whole afternoon and hopefully through my post work workout.

If you need inspiration for a way to use any carob chips or chunks you find, this recipe for cherry carob chip cookies looks amazing. Now I just need to decide if 8 pm is a good time to put on pants and run out to Earthfare before they close at 9 pm…

Sources: Chow.com, Wikipedia, Happy Vegetable.