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A Super-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

May 8, 2013

Attention Nutella-lovers. There's a relatively new chocolate hazelnut spread on the market made from only four ingredients: raw cacao nibs, raw sprouted hazelnuts, coconut palm sugar, and vanilla. (Psst: They're all pronounceable, which makes the product pass at least one of Michael Pollan's Food Rules.) OK, but still, what's the big deal? This nut butter's powerful punch of chocolate and hazelnut flavor belies the fact that neither the hazelnuts nor the cacao nibs are roasted, as is commonly done. You'd never guess from tasting it. Because the chocolate and nuts are raw, they?re actually really healthy to consume. I've found the holy grail of food: Something irresistibly delicious that also happens to be loaded with nutrients in a form that allows our bodies to absorb all the goodness it has to offer. And wow, does it have plenty of good stuff to give! According to Jen Moore, one of three partners of Jem Raw Organic Specialty Nut Butters & Chocolate, and a registered dietician--though she prefers to be called a nutritionist--each ingredient brings its own pure virtues to the nut butter. In raw food lingo, the sprouted nuts are "activated." They're soaked in a brine made from mineral-rich Himalayan pink salt, which helps rid the nuts of certain acids. When freed of those acids, the beneficial nutrients and enzymes in the nuts become readily available to the human body. The nuts are then dehydrated at a temperature no higher than 118°F so that the fats within the nuts are not denatured. When you denature a fat, says Moore, the body sees it as something unhealthy, a possible carcinogen. Raw cacao nibs have a lot going for them, too. The company buys nibs that are only fermented and sun-dried, but not roasted, because high heat kills most of the phytonutrients in the beans. Unroasted cacao means the iron, magnesium, and Vitamin C in the bean are easily absorbed by your body. Ever wonder why so many menstruating women crave chocolate? Moore makes it crystal clear: It's high in iron at a time when a woman is losing blood, the magnesium helps prevent cramping, the theobromine is a welcome stimulant, and the bliss chemical anadamide calms the nerves. Coconut palm sugar is another winning ingredient. Not only is it dense with minerals and minimally processed, it also has a very low glycemic index, making it friendly to diabetics. When accompanied by the fiber and good fat in the nuts and chocolate, the sugar is absorbed so slowly, it doesn't cause a spike in insulin. There's just enough of the sugar in the butter to make the chocolate hazelnut combo scream "Dig in!" without causing it to veer anywhere near the sickly sweet place. To become a silky smooth butter, the mixture is ground the old-fashioned way with granite grinders that act like giant mortar and pestles. Because the company can control the speed of the grinders, it can control the temperature (high speed = high heat) so it keeps it slow and...

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