A couple of weeks ago, I received a coupon in the mail for hazelnut spread. I've always wanted to try it so I sent my husband on a grocery run and instructed him to pick some up. I was shocked when I took a look at the nutrition facts label and found out how unhealthy this stuff actually is!
A few years ago, hazelnut spread was something very few people ever heard of or tried before. Nutella® used to be the sole brand found on the market shelves. Suddenly, this creamy spread is being made by multiple big brand names, including Jif® and Hershey's™, as well as store-bought or off-brands.
So what exactly is it? The spread is made of hazelnuts, milk, sugar, cocoa, palm oil and other ingredients. It's generally regarded as an alternative to peanut butter. However, the nutrition facts are far from being the same. While natural peanut butter is simply peanuts and salt with only 1 gram of natural sugar, hazelnut spread lists sugar as the first ingredient, followed by oil. In fact, just 2 tablespoons of this sweet stuff has roughly 21 grams of sugar, which is over 5 teaspoons of sugar. That's almost all of the recommended amount of added sugars we're supposed to have in an entire day!
To my disappointment, these products have been advertised to make you think they are healthy. Television commercials show mothers choosing hazelnut spread as an easy breakfast option for children. But would you allow your child to eat icing for breakfast? It has roughly the same amount of sugar! Hazelnut spread is advertised as having "no artificial flavors or preservatives" and mentions hazelnuts, cocoa and skim milk as ingredients but fails to mention sugar and oil.
Does this mean I need to throw out my jar of hazelnut spread that my husband just bought? Well, just like ice cream and cookies, hazelnut spread can still be a part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. Choose a small portion size, and serve it with something healthy. For instance, drizzle a teaspoon or two over plain air popped popcorn. Also, try mixing it with non-fat plain yogurt, which will help "tone down" the sweetness, decrease the amount of sugar per serving, and serve as the perfect dip for your favorite fruit. This recipe can also be used as an alternative for icing. Just be sure to refrigerate it!
Chocolate Hazelnut Yogurt Dip Printable PDF
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
? cup hazelnut spread
In a small bowl, whisk Greek yogurt and hazelnut spread together. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Use to dip fruit or spread on whole grain toast or waffles.
Yield: 8 servings, 2 Tablespoons each
Nutrition analysis per 2 Tablespoon serving: 80 Calories, 4 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 15 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 4 grams protein