Sunday, February 06, 2011

Food Revolution Friday: Thoughts on Nutella

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Yesterday on Twitter I noticed a whole pile of food bloggers writing about Nutella, and saying it was World Nutella Day. Nutella gets a whole day? Seriously?

Apparently, yes.

I have nothing against Nutella, really. I personally can't eat it because I'm allergic to hazelnuts, and the idea of something that rich and chocolatey as a meal always turned my stomach. Maybe as a dessert, or something, sure. Not in a sandwich or for breakfast, though. Ew. When I expressed this opinion, suddenly there was a nutella debate. Some people love it, some hate it, some think it's better than a donut so who cares, etc.

I've never understood the draw for some people of having dessert for breakfast. Cake, pastries, donuts, sugar laden cereals just seem weird to me. (Disclaimer: do NOT take this as a slam on your favorite breakfast or your eating habits, I'm saying it's weird to ME. Not that YOU are weird.)

Nutella typically advertises that it's part of a healthy breakfast, which always makes me giggle because all sorts of companies do that, with food that is questionably healthy. Although with Nutella, someone is actually taking them to task on that claim.

What's IN Nutella, exactly? (source: Nutella USA website)

Sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), lecthin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin, an artificial flavor.

This article from Wikipedia offers some interesting insights. According to the article, a serving of Nutella contains about 50% fat and 40% sugar. OUCH. Now to be fair to Nutella, here's their page where they answer lots of health and nutrition questions.

Can you make better chocolate hazelnut spread at home? I think so. Recently I also found this recipe for home made Nutella on David Lebovitz's blog and while I won't be making it because of my allergy, some of you may want to try it.

For me, it isn't a question about if Nutella is healthy or not, really-we always had specific criteria about what makes a food acceptable for meal time consumption and what makes it a treat. I'm all for REAL food, and real isn't neccessarily always healthy. What does bug the heck out of me is companies that claim their food is healthy when it's obviously not, or shouldn't be consumed every single day. Nutella does fall into that category for me. Seriously, as if I'm going to give my kid chocolate on toast for breakfast?

In our house, if it is something normally eaten as dessert, or has enough sugar to BE a dessert, then it's dessert. Not breakfast. As much as I adore chocolate, anything with chocolate is generally classified in my house as dessert or a treat, even when it's in pancakes or muffins.

What do you think? Is allowing a sugary item better than no breakfast at all? Should we literally sugar coat all our kid's foods to get them to eat? Or, is this just another example of how our kids are being sucked into eating crap that is really terrible for them? Do you think the entire thing is ridiculous?

Discuss. I'm curious.

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