Travelling and spending time in new places often gives us the amazing opportunity to try new foods. I ate some weird and wonderful things in China … I’m still not entirely sure what all of them were!
This month I’m a little closer to home in beautifully sunny Portugal. Fresh citrus groves line the winding mountain roads, already dripping with bright, sweet oranges and juicy yellow lemons.
I’m staying at a small cottage on a farm in the tiny village of Algoz. The family I’m with grow lots of vegetables and the garden is full of fruit trees. My host Maria brought me over a small tub of what looked like cocoa powder today. It is in fact carob. She showed me the tree in the garden from which it’s harvested. Carob grows as pods in what look like long, green runner beans. The fruit begins to develop in October but isn’t ready to harvest until June. It’s then ground down to make carob powder.
I remember my mother buying my sister and I carob bars from the health food store in England when we were kids. It always looked deceptively like chocolate but tasted somehow much more healthy and a little fruity.
Maria explained she uses it in baking to make cakes and biscuits. I figured I’d try it in my banana pancakes this morning and it worked brilliantly! I’ve thrown some flax and sunflower seeds in for an extra healthy bite and drizzled over it some fresh lemon and lavender honey I bought at the local farmers market.
1 Tablespoon of carob powder
1 Tablespoon of sunflower seeds
1 Tablespoon of flaxseeds
50g of jumbo oats
1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (to fry)
Lemon juice and honey if you’d like to add it
1 Mash the banana with the back of a fork until soft
2 Beat in two eggs
3 Stir in the carob powder, seeds and oats
4 Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan
5 Carefully pour in the batter, gently tilting the pan to ensure it spreads evenly across the surface
6 The pancake will be quite thick so a low heat is best to gently warm it through without burning
7 Once one side is cooked (5-10mins) carefully use a fish slice to loosen it from the pan
8 Flip it and fry the other side for 5 mins
9 Serve with lots of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup