From chocolate spread to jam on toast, there’s no easier way to keep the kids happy at breakfast time. But what about when those spreads contain lots of nasties? Author, food writer and mother of three, Lizzie King, shares her tips for healthier toast toppings, as well as a healthy chocolate spread recipe to keep the whole family happy.
“Toast toppings can all be nutritiously delicious with a little love and attention” says Lizzie
Nothing beats hot buttered toast smothered with a delicious topping. And it’s such a fast, easy breakfast for so many of us. The problem is when these toppings and spreads come with a lot of extra sugar and hydrogenated fats.
One of the biggest selling spreads out there now is Nutella, which was billed as a healthy breakfast option for a while until the ingredients were analysed and the complaints rolled in. This nutty chocolate spread seems to have become a worldwide treasure since it was created over 50 years ago. An Italian baker, named Ferrero, came up with the idea when cocoa was in short supply after the war. It went on sale in Europe in the 60’s and then to America in the 80’s, and now sells more than Marmite, with a jar sold every 2.5 seconds.
The difference is that Nutella’s make-up has gradually changed over the years. The current recipe is not that enticing when you look beyond the velvety chocolate overtones. Over half of it is sugar and more than 30% is palm oil, while the cocoa and hazelnut content – the original stars of the show – are so meagre it would be tough to say it had many health benefits.
DIY toast toppings the kids will love
When I first had children, I started seeking out healthier brands – of which there are many great ones these days – and experimenting with making my own. There are lots of super-easy ways of getting a toast topping packed with fruit without doing all the time-consuming bubbling involved with traditional jam. My easy Chia Berry Jam can be made in minutes and you can play around with seasonal fruits and berries and sweeten to taste.
Marmite is much loved in our house, but there are so many other savoury, nutritious toppings you can add to toast. Cream cheese with a sprinkling of herbs, labneh or thick yoghurt, hummus and – the Instagram favourite – smashed avocado, are all pretty instantaneous and delicious, at the same time as being fresh and adding some goodness to your diet. There are lots of great quality peanut butters out there, too, which avoid the dreaded palm oil. You can make it easily yourself too. Served up with sliced banana on top, it’s a nutritious topping.
Make your own peanut butter with this step-by-step guide.
When it comes to a healthier chocolate spread, I found I could replicate the popular spread in a way that used less sugar and packed in more flavour. This recipe below is the result of my experiments; it’s not tricky to put together and you can make triple batches. Getting the children involved is always a good way of getting them excited about their food (if they don’t polish it off as you go) so don’t underestimate the pride – and time – invested!
Above all, don’t knock toast and its toppings as a lovely addition to a lip-licking snack or breakfast set-up. They can all be nutritiously delicious with a little love and attention.
Kinda-like-Nutella: healthier chocolate spread
Lizzie King’s healthier chocolate spread that the kids will love
– 300g hazelnuts
– 4 level tablespoons cacao powder (or cocoa)
– 80g maple syrup
– 1 tablespoon coconut oil
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 pinch sea salt flakes, such as Maldon
1. Lay the nuts on a big baking tray and roast at 170ºC for 10-12 minutes until the skins start to change colour. Leave to cool.
2. On a tea towel rub until most of the skins fall off, they just shed. It’s not a fiddle I promise.
3. Place in food processor and whiz for up to 5 minutes (depending on the power of your machine) until they break down into nut butter texture.
4. Add cacao powder and blend till mixed. Add in maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and salt and pulse carefully.
5. Drizzle in some warm water until it reaches a spreadable consistency. It will firm up in the fridge afterwards, so you don’t want to make it too runny. Store in a jar in the fridge for several weeks.
For the ingredients in this recipe and more healthier toast toppings, go to farmdrop.com.
Seeking healthier breakfast ideas the kids will go mad for? Try these cauliflower cheese fritters.