Sunday, April 14, 2013

Homemade Hazelnut Spread–aka Nutella


It always amazes me how quickly the weekends go by, and how my workdays seem to drag on forever.  I’ve said it before, but I would love to know who came up with the idea of a 5 day work week and 2 day weekend…. seriously what were you thinking!?


I’m sure many of you have had a jar of Nutella in your cupboards at one time or another.  I’ve had tHalifax-20130210-00275he odd jar of Nutella here and there but it was never a staple in my diet.  When I started seeing their commercials about how nutritious it is and how you should start your kids day off with a breakfast that includes Nutella I was skeptical.  I had never looked at the ingredients so the next time I was at the grocery store I checked.  Yes it does have hazelnuts, skim milk powder and cocoa but surprise they left a few out and guess what the first ingredient on the list is….. SUGAR !  This sugar would be processed white sugar of course. Then we have modified palm oil, whey powder, lecithin and vanillin.


PALM OIL – is not the same as coconut oil which is cold pressed and minimally processed.  Palm oil uses solvents in their processing.

LECITHIN –  When obtained from natural sources, Non GMO Soy (plant source) and Eggs (animal source) they are a good thing.  Lecithin contains choline which is a micronutrient the body requires and is important for heart health and brain development.  The problem is the lecithin used in processed foods is almost always derived from soybeans which are most likely genetically modified unless stated otherwise. The lecithin is extracted from the soy beans either mechanically or chemically using hexane (a solvent made from crude oil).

VANILLIN – Synthetic vanilla flavouring.  Today, most of the synthetic vanillin comes from various processes using guaiacol. It is derived from wood creosote (a yellowish, greasy liquid.)

So if you’d prefer to avoid these things you can make your own hazelnut spread. 

Hazelnut Spread

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp fine grind sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond, hazelnut, milk any will work)


In a food processor or high speed blender process nuts till they start to form a paste.  You may have to scrape down the sides.  Add coconut oil and process till it starts getting smooth.  Add remaining ingredients.  Add milk in increments and process till it reaches the desired consistency.

That’s all there is to it. 



Even though all of the ingredients are natural you should think of it as treat not an everyday staple in your diet.

Have a good week!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Moroccan Lamb

The calendar is telling me it’s Spring but I’m just not feeling it.  Snow last night, and it’s cold and rainy today.  If this is Spring can we just skip straight through to Summer please! So in an attempt to bring some Spring inside I picked up a pretty bunch of tulips.  Fresh flowers just brighten up a room and who says they should just be for special occasions, so when you’re out and about today pick yourself up some pretty spring flowers.
I made this dish last weekend.  It was quick, easy, flavourful and best of all a one pot meal. 
Moroccan Lamb with Chickpeas
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • EVOO
  • 3 large leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed or 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 4 medium carrots thinly sliced (I used my mandolin)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries  (golden raisins would work too. I would eliminate the soaking step if using golden raisins )
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest (organic is best)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 /2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper (sea salt or Himalayan salt)
Soak the dried cranberries in hot water and maple syrup.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb to pan cook till no longer pink. Remove from pan and discard any drippings.  Add oil to pan, sauté leeks and carrot till soft add garlic; saute for a minute or so.  Add cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne; and tomato paste sauté  briefly to wake the spices up, about 30 seconds or so, stirring constantly. Add lamb, broth, wine, salt, pepper, drained cranberries, and lemon zest bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice
Serve over brown rice, or quinoa topped with more fresh cilantro, toasted pine nuts, and goat feta.
If you’re a little unsure about lamb I urge you to try it. I get mine from Getaway Farms.  Their livestock is 100% grass fed and delicious.  If you would have told me a year ago or even 6 months ago I would be loving lamb I would have told you that you were crazy.  I’ve learned how important good quality meats are to my health.  Our Thyroids need good quality protein (veggie protein doesn’t cut it) My Thyroid, in particular needs as much help as it can get.  I would have to say lamb would be my meat of choice right now.  That being said the beef products from Getaway Farms are amazing as well.  Their farm is in the beautiful Annapolis Valley but they have a storefront at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market and are open 6 days a week.
Have a great weekend everyone!
~ Jackie