Hazel is deeply wise. She holds the secrets of the earth within her. Love her and she’ll tell you where to quench your thirst… for water and for knowledge. What’s more, she’ll bless you with a silver tongue for telling others what you’ve learned.
So it’s said. But is there any truth behind the power of our elf Hazel?
What we know for sure: Hazel harnesses the power of the nut. And nuts are powerhouses of nutrition. Eating a handful of nuts a day can help prevent heart problems and weight gain.
A giant kilogram jar of Nutella contains 130 hazelnuts, along with a heap of skim milk and cocoa powder thrown into the mix. How can anything with so much fiber, vitamins C, B, and E, protein, folate, and calcium be anything but good?
Well, Nutella has its detractors. For one, there is a large dose of sugar – 11 grams in one tablespoon.
And then, there is the whole palm oil thing. This vegetable oil has 41% saturated fat (the bad kind) but no trans fats (the worst offender). So maybe palm oil is only half bad? The jury is still out. But human health is not the only concern with palm oil. Over-farming of the rain-forest is threatening endangered animals, like the gorgeous orangutan. Our elf Hazel would definitely be sympathetic to this cause!
I just LUV Nutella, though, and I’ve even used it as an ingredient in my healthiest cookies ever. So what is a nutty orangutan-loving Nutella fan to do?
Here’s an idea. You can make your own hazelnut spread. It’s easy if you have a food processor. You get to say how much sugar is enough, and you can simply leave out the palm oil or use coconut oil instead.
Vinny’s Homemade Hazelnut Chocolate “Nutella”
Makes about 2 1/4 cups. Store in the fridge.
- 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) whole hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 3/4 cup skim milk powder
- 1/4 cup (50 grams ) cocoa (not dutch-processed)
- 15 drops of liquid stevia (or 2 tablespoons maple syrup if you can afford the sugar)
- pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)
- 1 cup (100 grams) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the nuts in a 375ºF oven for 10-15 minutes, or until their skins begin to pop. Shake them up half way through. Watch, because they burn easily. Yuck!!!
- Pour the hot nuts onto an old (but clean) tea towel, gather the corners into a bundle and rub the nuts together like mad. You want to rub off as much of their skins as possible. This is hard work. Maybe that’s why the roasted nuts were twice the price!
- While they’re warm, blend the nuts in a food processor until they go from finely ground to pasty, about 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, on medium heat warm the milk, powdered milk, maple syrup or stevia, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan. Watch it and stir, because the milk can easily burn on the bottom. Remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble around the edges.
- In a glass or stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate with the coconut oil, stirring until smooth. Take off the heat a little before it’s completely melted, because you don’t want it to curdle.
- Add the melted chocolate to the ground nuts and process the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the warm milk mixture bit by bit, and process until the sauce is well blended.
- While it’s still warm, you can strain it into jars if you like it smoother rather than nutty. But I like to keep all the fiber.
Vinny served the hazelnut sauce on eggy pancakes and poured some over strawberries. He also uses it in his chocolate cookies, Melting Moments.
Nutrition information per tablespoon (From eaTracker, by Dietitians of Canada):
- 66 Calories
- 5 g fat (no trans fat)
- 4 g carbs (including 1.1 g fibre and 2.3 g sugar)
- 2.1 g protein
- 19 mg sodium (salt)
- 120 mg potassium, 44 mg calcium, 18.1 RAE Vit A, 7.8 DFE folate, 1.1 mg vitamin E
If you want to compare nutrients of Vinnie’s recipe with the commercial Nutella by Ferrero, here’s their nutrition label.
Nuts to you, cowboy! Nuts and seeds power good health for cowgirls and boys. Make this snack for the trail.
Mares eat oats… Make some hearty pemmican-style treats to fuel your wilderness outings or trips to the city park.