Sugarproof “Nutella” (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Most kids (and adults) love Nutella, and for good reason: chocolate and hazelnut is an amazing flavor combination. But there’s another reason why Nutella tastes so good and is so popular: it’s full of added sugar. Each 15 gram serving has 8.4 grams (over 2 teaspoons) of sugar, making it over half sugar by weight. In fact, sugar is listed as the first ingredient in Nutella, followed by vegetable fat (palm). Only 13% is hazelnuts and 7.4% is cocoa powder.

It’s marketed as a breakfast spread with the slogan “Wake up to Nutella,” and many families do have it regularly in the morning. The issue here is that a high-sugar product like this can put kids on the sugar roller coaster, causing a spike in blood sugar followed by a subsequent crash that can cause irritability, excess hunger, and cravings for more sugar mid-morning. What’s worse, if kids board this ride in the morning, they often stay on the sugar roller coaster all day long. In Sugarproof, we explain more detail about how to avoid this vicious cycle. Needless to say, we wouldn’t recommend Nutella for an everyday breakfast choice.

We aren’t here to say you shouldn’t enjoy some regular Nutella sometimes if you like it. But it’s nice to have an alternative option available, so we created our own Sugarproof chocolate hazelnut spread recipe to be able to enjoy the great flavor combination but skip the added sugar (and palm oil and other additives). One 15 gram serving of our “Nutella” has 3 grams (less than one teaspoon) of total sugar (coming from dates) and no added sugar. Yes the dates do have naturally-occurring sugar in them, but they also contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients as compared to regular sugar which is not balanced with fiber and is just a source of empty calories. We still probably wouldn’t recommend this for an everyday breakfast, but it is a great option for a healthier treat.

It’s super easy to make and it tastes amazing on toast or pancakes (or anything you like to put regular Nutella on). Especially if your kids are big fans of Nutella, this is definitely one to try. It became an instant favorite in my (Emily’s) house and everyone who taste-tested it has requested the recipe. Give it a go and let us know what you think!

Sugarproof “Nutella” (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (135g) roasted and skinned hazelnuts (or blanched) – see note*
  • 1 cup (140g) dates
  • ½ cup unsweetened plant milk of choice, plus more if needed
  • 4-6 Tablespoons (¼ to 1/3 cup) cacao powder, depending on the intensity of chocolate flavor desired
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt

Method

  • If your dates are firm, put them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Allow them to soak for 10 minutes or until soft, and drain well.
  • Put the hazelnuts, drained dates, plant milk, cacao powder, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and salt in the food processor. Pulse until you get a uniform texture and then blend until smooth, adding a Tablespoon or two of extra plant milk if needed. 
  • Transfer to a serving container or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

*Note: For this recipe you will want hazelnuts that do not have the skins. We like to buy them raw with the skins on and roast them ourselves as we like the flavor that results. To do this, preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Put the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes, then allow to cool and slip off the majority of the skins using your hands or a tea towel. It is ok if some of the stubborn parts of the skins stay on. As an easier alternative, you can buy hazelnuts that are blanched and use them as is without roasting and the result is still delicious.

Nutrition info (per 15g serving):

Calories 60 Total Fat 4g Carbohydrates 5g Total Sugars 3g Added Sugars 0g Fiber 1g Protein 1g

For more recipes like this one, see our book Sugarproof, available here or anywhere books are sold.