Natural alternative scrumptious snack
In days gone by I could easily have polished off a jar of Nutella in a matter of 2-3 days (if not sooner!) I once kept an unopened jar in the kitchen as a temptation to fortify my resolve to lose weight. This was years before I became a lot more enlightened about what constitutes a healthy snack.
Recently Nutella lost a $3 million lawsuit for making claims about the healthiness of their product. They have run ads calling their spread part of a “nutritious breakfast.” It’s sad that there is very little oversight an accountability in labeling here in the US. Essentially manufacturers can make any claims other than organic, kosher or gluten-free as those require special testing.
Nutella Ingredients: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin (an artificial flavor).
Let’s dissect these a bit: Anything labeled “sugar” nowadays as opposed to “pure cane sugar or evaporated cane sugar” is a combination of cane juice and sugar beets. The sugar beets are genetically modified to make them sweeter. A normal serving (2 tablespoons) has 21 grams of sugar. In fact, the end-product is composed of 55% glucose.
They used to use hydrogenated oils (trans fats) but switched over to palm oil as a result of the big commotion about how dangerous trans fats are. We have no way of knowing the extraction method for this oil so I cannot comment accurately on this ingredient; As to the hazelnuts, they use only about 50 in a jar, so the majority of this product is not hazelnuts, unlike my rendition; Cocoa is a superfood but not if it has been treated with excessive heat — this is why it’s best to buy unrefined cacao powder or nibs. There is also the question about ethics when it comes to chocolate that is not part of the fair trade movement.
Milk and whey can be allergens to many people and are difficult to digest; Soy lecithin as emulsifier is what gives it the creamy consistency that I was unable to duplicate, but unless specifically marked “non-GMO” this is another genetically engineered nightmare. And vanillin is so far removed from real vanilla that it’s made from wood pulp!
Prepared my way, every ingredient is pretty much a superfood. The consistency is more on the fluffy side and the flavor is more dark than milk chocolate. You can smooth out the spread and make it more on the milk chocolate side by adding either a couple of tablespoons of almond milk or some coconut butter (also called coconut manna).
What also makes this a much more nutritious version is the soaking/sprouting of the nuts. While you can skip this step and just use raw hazelnuts, it is worth the extra step to get a nut that is more alive due to the germination process. Here’s a video about soaking and sprouting.
To soak, just immerse the hazelnuts in about 4 cups of water for at least 6 hours (up to 12). Drain and rinse. To sprout, just leave them for several hours in a colander, covered with a moist paper towel. See how in this video. Then dry the nuts in a dehydrator or in a low temperature oven on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Coconut oil is a superb fat; coconut sugar is much lower on the glycemic index than cane sugar, but you can also replace with any preferred sweetener.
This recipe is raw and vegan, providing the hazelnuts are not heated over 115 degrees.
Dr. LJ’s New-tella Spread
- 2 TB. raw hazelnuts (preferably soaked and dried)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 1/3 cup cacao powder
- 6 TB. coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 TB. alcohol free vanilla extract or 1 TB. vanilla powder
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- Optional: To make a lighter version, add 2 TB. almond milk or coconut butter)
Directions: In a food processor with the “S” blade pulse the hazelnuts until they are powdered. Add the oil, cacao, coconut sugar, vanilla and salt and blend until desired consistency. Stop periodically to push down with a spatula. The longer you process the more oil will be extracted from the hazelnuts.
Serving Suggestions: Spread on toast or dehydrated almond bread (as in photo) serve with sliced berries. Can also be used as a spread for fruit. Add to yogurt. Refrigerate leftovers and then let sit at room temperature a bit before serving.
Simple. Smooth. Succulent.
If you enjoyed this recipe, try my Frozen Banana with Nut Butter Super Snack.
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