A few months back, while at a friend’s house, my daughter was introduced to the wonderful world of Nutella. She’s been hooked ever since. She found out that it goes great on Graham crackers, toast, bananas…anything! You would think the fact that they don’t carry it where I grocery shop would let her forget… not my girl. (I noticed her elephant-like memory when she was about 18 months.) So, after weeks of begging me and then stumbling upon it at a Target, I finally broke down and allowed the occasional “treat.” Nutella is not all that bad anyway…or is it?
The packaging states that there are no artificial colors or preservatives. It’s made with Hazelnuts, a healthy nut and good source of protein. The problem I have is that the first ingredient on the list is…SUGAR. No surprise, right…but first? Really? 21 grams in 2tbsp? Ugh. It’s also made with palm oil, cocoa, and skim milk. Then you got Vanillin and Lecithin in there. What the heck are those? Well it will tell you right on the label that Vanillin is an artificial flavoring. Lecithin is a common ingredient used as an emulsifier…it thickens and helps the nut butter blend and stay together and, in this case, is made from soy. I could sort of live with some of these ingredients, but how am I to know where they come from, besides Canada? I’d feel much better if they were organic or if I knew for a fact that they were Non-GMO. It’s been said that 79-89% of soy in the USA is GMO soy…so what are the chances that Nutella contains some Genetically modified organisms? Yeah, no thanks. So off I went to my local Whole Foods, crossing my fingers for a close enough alternative….or praying my daughter would all of a sudden take a liking to almond butter.
What I found may not be the answer to my prayers, but it is definitely an encouraging and motivating step in the right direction…
Allow me to introduce you to NATURAL CHOCO DREAM. Now, the list of ingredients looks basically the same as Nutella’s, so unfortunately SUGAR is still #1 (only one gram less per serving). However, some important differences must be noted. For starters, it contains NON HYDROGENATED palm and/or canola oil and their cocoa powder is LOW FAT and FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED. The product is made in Belgium, where chances of GMO ingredients are lower. Choco Dream is distributed by Natural Nectars, a company with a good reputation for carrying healthy, natural products made from premium ingredients. They also use eco-friendly packaging. The Choco Dream nut spread comes in a glass jar, which can easily be recycled and does not pose risk of leaching chemicals that can occur with plastics. Best of all, Choco Dream tastes exactly the same, if not BETTER, than Nutella. It has a rich, smooth taste, and more importantly, my daughter loves it. Our newest dessert concoction is a “Nutella Smores”. No need for a campfire….just spread a little Choco Dream on a (organic) graham cracker and place 2-3 small (natural/organic) marshmallows on top and VOILA…a safer sweet alternative. Moderation is the key. My daughter knows that too much sugar is bad for her and so we save these types of treats for special occasions. I’m still on the hunt for something similar with less sugar that she can enjoy more often.
If your family is a Nutella fan though, I highly suggest you give Choco Dream a try. For around the same price, wouldn’t you want to give your kids (or yourself) better quality, safer food? Find it at your local Whole Foods Market or shop for it online at Natural Nectars or Amazon.com.
*You can also find these other flavors: Almond Choco Dream and Dark Choco Dream (which I’m afraid to try for fear of falling in love.)
On a side note: click here and read about the mother who fought against the makers of Nutella for false advertising and won!