Simple Neuro-Nutella

A stone dish full of homemade chocolate spread is surrounded by slices of bread that are covered in the chocolate spread and topped with crushed walnuts.

Nutella has always seemingly been marketed as a healthy choice for kids (and the young at heart). But as a NeuroTritionist I can say that the ingredients, unfortunately, are anything but health-promoting. So we took a close look at Nutella’s 7 ingredients, and swapped out 4 for brain-healthy ones, removed 2 altogether, and kept 1 (hazelnuts). Here’s what we did:

Nutella -> Neuro-nutella

  • Sugar -> Coconut sugar
  • Milk -> Coconut milk
  • Palm oil -> Removed
  • Cocoa -> Raw cacao powder
  • Hazelnuts -> Kept (but you can sub in walnuts, too)
  • Soy lecithin -> Removed
  • Vanillin -> Pure vanilla extract

Our version is anti-inflammatory because we removed the white sugar, milk, palm oil and soy lecithin. This is something that I care a lot about because science says that neurological diseases, brain injury, and mental health conditions all have neuro-inflammation in common. I don’t want to feed brain inflammation in my clients, and inflammatory ingredients are something I do my best to remove from their diets.

Moreover, because we used raw cacao powder (vs. processed cocoa) and pure vanilla extract (vs. synthetic vanillin), our version is not only anti-inflammatory but also boasts more micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Oh, and it’s also plant-based so it can be enjoyed by all.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

A stone dish full of homemade chocolate spread is surrounded by slices of bread that are covered in the chocolate spread and topped with crushed walnuts.

Simple Neuro-Nutella
Yield: 1.5 cups
Prep: 15 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder*
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of raw, whole hazelnuts, shelled**
  1. Set oven to 375 F.
  2. Place hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant.
  3. While hazelnuts are roasting, add coconut milk, coconut sugar, vanilla, and cacao powder to a small pot over medium/high heat, whisking until well combined.
  4. Continue whisking frequently until it begins to boil, allow to boil for 30 seconds and remove from heat.
  5. Place into a heatproof bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
  6. Remove hazelnuts from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  7. Once cooled, remove the skins by placing them on top of a clean dish towel and placing a second dish towel over top. Rub them around until the majority of the skins have been removed.
  8. Add the skinned, roasted hazelnuts to a high speed blender and blend until smooth, runny butter forms. You may need to use a smaller attachment on your blender, and scrape down the sides of the blender once in a while.
  9. Combine hazelnut butter and chocolate mixture together and whisk until smooth.

*If you don’t have raw cacao powder, use 1/3 cup organic cocoa powder instead.

**Optional: reduce the hazelnuts by half a cup, and add 1/2 cup of walnuts instead.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days or freeze for 1-2 months.

For a twist, try melting and dipping your favourite fresh fruit, or leave as is for crackers and pretzels.

Brainy Bites


  • Learn how cacao and cocoa are different, here!

Coconut sugar:

  • Coconut sugar is more nutritious than sugar, boasting antioxidants, anti-cancer compounds, and many vitamins and minerals in addition to being low glycemic (but tasting sweeter than most other sugars)!


  • Eating antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory hazelnuts may reduce our risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington's disease.
  1. Saraiva, A., Carrascosa, C., Ramos, F., Raheem, D., Lopes, M., & Raposo, A. 2023. Coconut Sugar: Chemical Analysis and Nutritional Profile; Health Impacts; Safety and Quality Control; Food Industry Applications. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(4), 3671 - 3704.
  2. Talebi, S., Khodagholi, F., Bahaeddin, Z., Ansari Dezfouli, M., Zeinaddini-Meymand, A., Berchi Kankam, S., Foolad, F., Alijaniha, F. & Fayazi Piranghar, F. 2023. Does hazelnut consumption affect brain health and function against neurodegenerative diseases? Nutritional Neuroscience, 27, 1 - 17.

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