People Go Nutty Over Nutella

I was perusing last week’s horrible news stories like the one about the Olympic doctor sex abuse, all the school shootings that have already occurred this year, and how Xanax has become rampant among college users, especially in Britain. Shame on our world! Then, when it couldn’t possibly seem any more senseless, I read that rioting broke out over Nutella in France. This happened when a supermarket put it on sale. People at supermarkets across France literally risked life and limb to snag a jar of Nutella for $1.75 versus $5.85. You might say everyone went a little nutty!

The word “nutty” translates to “noisette” in French.  How do I know this? My “Bookface” mom is from France, born in Paris in 1933. (For the record, she does not eat Nutella.)

If you watch the video, which has since gone viral, you’ll see the people involved were both nutty AND noisy!  *shakes head*

Why all the craziness?

Was it over a few bucks?
Was it upsetting that a stranger could get a better deal than you?
Does it speak to our lack of self-control?
How about emotional or physical violence? If you’re upset about something in your own life, it’s easy to lash out on a stranger when you feel they’ve wronged you. These people had to step all over each other or beat someone up to snag a jar.
Maybe it boils down to food addictions.  Who knows?!

So, what’s in Nutella that would make people go ape crazy over it?

Hazelnuts- There are between 50-94 hazelnuts in an average size jar, depending on who you believe. No matter the number, the hazelnuts are roasted and ground to create the smooth, delicious hazelnut butter. Did you know that centuries ago, in France, the hazel plant was given as a wedding gift to symbolize fertility? Hazelnuts have a lot of magnesium, manganese, essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Taken together, this means they boost heart health, improve blood sugar levels and support a better brain!

Sugar- Nutella brand includes pure cane sugar and/or beet sugar, and it’s non-GMO. I appreciate that they don’t use artificial sweeteners, though the sugar content is higher than some other brands.  Still, its high sugar content allows it to be shelf-stable; the sugar acts as a natural preservative.  If you refrigerate your Nutella, you’ll find that it will quickly become an unspreadable solid!  (Though, a delicious one to be sure.)

Oil- Specifically red palm fruit oil which comes from the African tree, Elaeis Guineensis.  I’ve heard that Ferrero brand, the maker of Nutella, sources its palm oil more ethically than most companies.

Cocoa powder- Basically chocolate powder, like that you would use in baking. It’s processed, fermented and roasted. It comes from cacao seeds, but it’s not the same as raw cacao, the superfood.

Milk- Skim milk powder; vegans take note: if you want a milk-free chocolate hazelnut butter, you’ll need to make your own!

Lecithin- A smoothing agent (emulsifier) which is derived from either soy beans or sunflower seeds. It keeps the product smooth and spreadable.

Vanillin- A type of synthetic vanilla for aroma and flavor.

That’s what is in Nutella’s brand of chocolate hazelnut spread. Since I love to cook, and I write a holistic health blog, I’m giving you a natural, delicious spread that tastes similar to Nutella.  Mine is even vegan and gluten-free. Plus, you can make this delicious homemade spread without risking a broken nose (wink)!

Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
3 cups organic hazelnuts, roasted and unsalted
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Maple syrup or honey to taste (confectioner’s sugar may also be used; see note below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet. Since they’re already roasted, you only need to bake them for about 5 to 10 minutes to warm them up and loosen their skins. Put them in a kitchen towel and roll them around to remove as much skin as possible. Don’t be OCD about this, lol… some skin will inevitably hang on, it’s all right, let it be. You’re just trying to remove most of the skin in order to make the end result creamy, and your blender will grind whatever sticks to the nut.

Put the cleaned/warm hazelnuts in a blender (Vitamix is my favorite) and blend on low until a butter is formed.  It might take a few minutes depending on how strong your blender is. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave then pour in the blender. Add the salt and vanilla. Continue to blend on low.

What about sweetness? The brand Nutella tastes sweet, so when you make your homemade version, you will probably want to add maple syrup or honey. If you’re using one of these liquid sweeteners (this is a bit counterintuitive) note that the more liquid sweetener you add, the stiffer it makes the final product! Add your sweetener very slowly and keep licking the spatula to test flavor and consistency. Keep in mind that when hot, it’s thinner. As it cools, it thickens.  If your spread is too thick for your liking, add a teaspoon or two of some oil like grape seed, olive or almond oil.  There you have it, Nutella in the safety of your own kitchen!

Note: You could try confectioner’s sugar but if you do, add before blending.