Many people vividly remember their first encounter with Nutella, the decadent Italian spread of chocolate, hazelnuts and deliciousness. My situation was different in that rather than being the Special Treat That Changed Everything, Nutella was actually one of about three foods that I would eat until the age of 12 (the other two being chocolate pudding cups and bread). Determined to make my sister and I into independent young women, my mother insisted that we pack our own lunches for school beginning in the first grade. So as you can imagine, my daily lunch consisted of a Nutella sandwich and a chocolate pudding cup. While this meant that I was the most popular six-year-old at the lunchtable, it also meant that my blood, muscles and most of my major body organs were composed predominantly of chocolate.
While my tastes have certainly since expanded beyond those three foods, there is still a special place in my belly for Nutella. However, especially after looking at the listed ingredients (I don’t recommend it), Nutella seems better suited to a supporting role in the daily diet. Here, I’ve paired half a serving size of Nutella with hearty rolled oats, Omega-3-packed flax seeds, and tart dried cherries, to add a little luxury to what can be a humdrum morning meal. If you are just getting used to “health foods” like whole grains and flax seeds, think of this dab of Nutella as the proverbial spoonful of sugar to help you start eating the good-for-you stuff. Sugar, coincidentally, is the number one ingredient in Nutella.
I added a teaspoon of cocoa powder to bump of the chocolatey taste, without adding the additional sweetness and calories that would be in extra scoops of Nutella. Oatmeal is an inherently customizable dish, so make this according to your tastes–more Nutella, less cocoa powder, no oatmeal, etc. You can even garnish with sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts in addition to the cherries for a little crunch. I always give flax seeds a buzz in my spice grinder before using them because your body assimilates the nutrients better when the seeds are ground; however, if you don’t have a spice grinder, you can leave them whole.
Nutella Oatmeal with Dried Cherries
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 cups water
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flax seeds, preferably ground in a spice grinder (can be left whole)
1 tablespoon Nutella
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of dried cherries
1. Place 1/2 cup of rolled oats a small pot with 1 1/4 cups of cold water and the pinch of salt. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are fully cooked and most of the water is absorbed. There will be a little excess liquid for the flax seeds and cherries to absorb.
2. Stir in the ground or whole flax seeds, Nutella, cocoa powder and dried cherries. Let stand for 1 minute to thicken before eating. Garnish with additional cherries if desired.