Did you know that a standard 440g jar of Nutella contains a staggering 249g of sugar. That works out as a 37 gram serving of sugar in every two tablespoons, or a whopping 57 cubes per jar. Worrying? The alternative options have the same amount of sugar and the supermarket own brands are even worse. Even the Weight Watchers (HAS to be healthy, right!??), contains over 50% sugar. Shocked? I’m not.
Sugar is the number one ingredient on the nutrition label, which means that there is more sugar in the jar than any other ingredient. When looking at ingredient labels, product ingredients are listed by quantity — from highest to lowest amount. This means that the first ingredient is what the manufacturer used the most of. A good rule of thumb is to scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you’re eating. If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can assume that the product is unhealthy and to be avoided.
As you know I really believe in making things from scratch and only using “real food” ingredients. By real food, I mean something that has not gone through a crazy amount of production or had multiple other ingredients added. One ingredient, with no oils or additives. For example, a pack of hazelnuts should just contain, hazelnuts! No added oil, sugar or salt etc.
As a child I grew up having Nutella on thick white toast for breakfast. It was quick, it was convenient. I can’t even fathom how much sugar that was at such an early time of the morning. A huge hit of sugar at any time of day isn’t good for us, and it certainly took me until my twenties to realise the impact every piece of food had on my mind, my body and of course, my blood sugars.
Now that I have a child I am so aware of everything that goes into her body… and if I can find a more health friendly alternative to something that is high in carbs/sugars then I will. It’s my job to start her off on the right path, to nourish her with all the goodness I can get in to her, because at some point she will be eating and drinking things way out of my control and I want her to be as clued up and excited by home cooking and the deliciousness of it, as I am. We know that too much sugar in children’s diets can lead to weight gain, obesity and tooth decay. So, if we can make healthier choices for our children whilst they are in our care, then this can only be a good thing.
I know the impact sugar has on my blood sugars, I see the numbers change rapidly, only minutes after eating something higher in carbs. I have seen first hand the effect high blood sugars have had on type one and two diabetics. I have seen the amputations, I have met with people who have lost their sight and I have sat with people on kidney dialysis. It is awful. It is tragic and it is happening. Sugar can save a diabetics life (low blood sugar / hypoglycaemia) as much as it can cause irreversible long-term damage (high blood sugar / hyperglycaemia). And, whether you are diabetic or not, sugar will affect your glucose level.
This homemade chocolate hazelnut spread is a perfect alternative to the high sugar shop bought products. It is loved by the whole family, especially my daughter. She will have a dollop on some porridge, over yoghurt or drizzled over some strawberry pieces. I like it on my low carb bread rolls – it tastes amazing and yet I need no insulin for either which is mind-blowing. It is smooth, decadent and delicious. I tend to avoid adding sweeteners, as the hazelnut butter creates a natural sweetness. If you do want to add something sweet then do so, but please read the notes on the recipe.
It is so easy to make your own. You just need a high-speed blender (this is important), it needs to be powerful and able to grind through nuts. I recommend roasting the nuts first which will help speed up the butter takes about 7 mins at 180c. I used nuts with a skin on so once roasted I rubbed them through my hands to remove as much of the skin as I could. But, this isn’t necessary. You can also buy blanched hazelnuts (which are more expensive), but don’t have any skin. I made mine in my Lidl ‘nutrition mixer’ which I bought a couple of months ago. It is very sturdy and has a special blade just for nuts. It cost £29.99 which is incredible – given the prices of other brands like the NutriBullet. To make nut butter takes about 2-3 minutes in my high speed blender, with a couple of stops for scraping the sides. Yours may take much longer, if it isn’t high powered. So it may be that you need to give your blender a few rests as the last thing you want to do is burn it out.
How many carbs are in the jar?
The total jar contains 20g carbs. There are approximately 12 servings. So, 1.7g carbs per serving.
What jar do you use?
I use a 0.25ltr kilner jar, which nearly fills it. But, any jar will do, so long as it has a good lid, so it can be sealed at all times.
What is the shelf life?
So long as it is kept in an air tight jar then it will keep for a couple of months in a kitchen cupboard. You could also keep in the fridge. Just make sure to always use a clean spoon or knife and NO finger dipping! Otherwise, it could go off much quicker.
- 280g hazelnuts, roasted (you can either buy blanched, without skin, or with skin)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder (or cacao)
- sweetener, optional (I suggest a powdered one, SEE NOTES)
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.
- Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for approximately 7-9 minutes until lightly toasted. If they are blanched they will probably need a little less time and if the hazelnuts have skins then these will be slightly blistered once toasted.
- Keep a close eye on them as you don't want them to burn!
- Allow to fully cool on the side. If the hazelnuts have skins, you can flake these off as much as possible by just rubbing them through your hands.
- Place in a high powered blender and blend at the highest speed. You will need to scrape the sides every so often. It will go from whole nut, to ground nut, to thick butter, to a thin pourable butter. The time it will take to do this will vary, depending on the style of your blender. Anything high powered could take as little as 3 mins, or something slower could take much longer, but you just need to persevere.
- Add the cocoa powder and pulse until fully conbined. Have a taste. If you want to add sweetener do so now and continue to blend until fully mixed in. Have another taste. Add extra cocoa if needed.
- Pour in to a jar.
If you add sweetener, then add ½ tsp (I recommend it be powdered) and then try it, and see if you want more. If you use a liquid / sugar like honey, then you may find the consistency of the butter changes. You will need to continue to blend until you get it back to a pourable consistency / or consistency you like.
If you use a granulated sugar / sweetener, you will have crunchy bits in your mix, so best to use powdered.
If your blender is struggling and it isn't going to a thin butter then your options are to add ½ a tablespoon of coconut oil or other nut based oil. This will help.
ALL PICTURES ARE MY OWN AND ARE NOT TO BE COPIED AND REPLICATED WITHOUT MY SOLE PERMISSION.