Happy 2015! What are your resolutions for the new year? If living healthier is on your bucket list for this year (and there is a fair chance it is) then you will probably have banned nutella and banana sandwiches for dinner – at least for the first few days. But if you think that a chocolate hazelnut spread is inherently bad, hear me! Of course, the store bought stuff – no offence to the almighty Ferrero – is loaded with cheap vegetable oils and refined sugar – two ingredients that you should avoid at all costs or only enjoy occasionally. But both hazelnuts and cocoa possess powerful health properties and because they taste divine as well – especially in combination with each other – a chocolate hazelnut spread is just made for my blog!
In fact, although it’s advisable not to overdo it on the nuts (due to their phytic acid content on the one hand and their high level of omega 6 on the other), hazelnuts, with their relatively low omega 6 content, are among the more preferable types of nuts, and come with a healthy does of manganese for strong bones, copper for the utilisation of iron, and vitamin E for cardiovascular benefits on top. You might want to read up on nuts in the context of a paleo diet here.
I based my nutella on this recipe by the detoxinista, but instead of coconut sugar I opted for stevia. Why? Well, while I’m a big fan of the taste and texture of coconut sugar and believe it to be a high-quality type of sugar, it is still a carbohydrate. And, given that spreads are commonly used on bread which is – gluten free or not – a notorious carbohydrate bomb, I believe a spread should be as low in carbs as possible to balance this out – see my recipe for a low-carb jam here. Everyone knows that managing your carbohydrate intake is the key for long-term health and maintaining a normal weight, and that is why I like to replace all sugars, even the “healthy” ones with low-carb alternatives such as stevia, xylitol, or erythritol (no artificial sweeteners though!), especially as I don’t mind the taste of stevia. If you, however, despise it (and I know there are people that do), feel free to use coconut sugar, palm sugar, or raw sugar here (don’t think white sugar would work). Now, for a die-hard paleoist, including stevia in any recipe boasting the word “paleo” is for sure a sacrilege, but living a balanced lifestyle also means to try not to be holier than the pope. Of course, no sweet treat is strictly paleo, but I think that low-calorie, natural sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol are a godsend to enable us to enjoy the occasional sweet treat without deviating from our healthy lifestyle.
Does this nutella taste like the real thing? Well, I think it is pretty close, only better! Think of the inside of a Ferrero Rocher (am I the only one who used to scrape out the insides of a Ferrero Rocher?). Can’t argue with that one!
So without further ado, let’s take three steps to heaven!
225 g hazelnuts
10 g stevia (or 100 g sugar of choice)
15 g cocoa powder
15 g melted coconut oil
50 ml filtered water
1. Preheat oven to 150 °C and roast the hazelnuts on a flat baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or until the skins start to come off. Let cool slightly and then gently rub the nuts in a clean tea towel to remove the skins. Don’t worry about small bits remaining.
2. Pulse nuts approx. 10 minutes in a high powered food processor until you achieve the consistency of a coarse nut butter. I
am lazy like my nut butters with a bit of crunch, so I don’t bother processing them to a smooth consistency.
3. Add remaining ingredients and quickly blend until well combined.