My sons asked if I could buy Nutella, but I didn’t want to get them hooked on a spread that has 21 grams of sugar per 2-tablespoon serving. It has more sugar than any other ingredient in it. Nutella may market itself as a healthy part of breakfast, but the amount of sugar in it makes it a pretty bad way to start the day.


Instead, I came across Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter at Target, and decided to give it a try. Organic evaporated cane sugar is the third ingredient listed, after hazelnuts and almonds. It has only 7 grams of sugar per 2-tablespoon serving. That’s a significant difference in sugar content between the two products.


Here are all the ingredients in Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend: Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Natural Vanilla, Sea Salt.


Here are all the ingredients in Nutella: Sugar, Palm oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Skim Milk, Reduced Minerals Whey (milk), Lecithin as emulsifier (soy), Vanillin: an artificial flavor.


I’m certainly more pleased with what is in the Justin’s ingredients than the Nutella. There is more fat in the Justin’s as compared to the Nutella, but that’s because there are more nuts in it. There is also an added gram of protein in the Justin’s, again because of the additional nuts. Justin's also happens to be vegan. The Nutella is not.


Now, most people think that Nutella tastes pretty good, and with all that sugar, it’s no surprise that kids love it. How does the Justin’s taste? (I didn’t do a side-by-side comparison. I didn’t want my boys tasting the sweeter Nutella next to the Justin’s. I wanted them to simply taste the Justin’s and tell me what they thought.)


They both liked the flavor. Neither of them mentioned that it wasn’t as sweet as they thought it was going to be. My 12-year-old said he’d eat it anytime. My 10-year-old was a little put off by the texture of the Justin’s compared to Nutella. He was given Nutella often at his after-school program as a snack and liked how smooth and creamy it was. The Justin’s is not as smooth and creamy. It’s not chunky like chunky peanut butter, but there is a texture to it from the ground nuts. I’m pretty sure my son will get over the texture quickly.


My friend Emily stopped by to do some measurements of my kitchen (she’s designing me a new kitchen – you’ll be hearing a lot about my kitchen renovation in the upcoming months), and I gave her a taste. She’s very choosy about what she feeds her children. She liked it and said she would not have a problem giving it to her children.


I think I’ve found a winner. It’s not something the boys will be eating daily. I’ll put it away and bring it out once in a while for a treat. 


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter: More nuts, less sugar
Some chocolate hazelnut spreads list sugar as their main ingredient. The first ingredient in this chocolate hazelnut butter made with organic ingredients is nut