Carmel Valley’s NuttZo launches three new nut butter flavors
This year is shaping up to be an exciting one for the Carmel Valley-born NuttZo nut butter brand. Founder Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi recently made her debut selling nut butters on QVC and launched three new products: Five Seed Tahini Fusion, Keto Butter and Chocolate Keto.
Dietz-LiVolsi started the nut and seed butter brand out of her Carmel Valley kitchen 13 years ago as an effort to make a nutrient dense and tasty food to feed her two adopted boys, who were severely nutrient deficient.
Her first account was Jimbo’s in Carmel Valley. Today, NuttZo has become a nationally- recognized premium food brand available in over 10,000 grocery stores including Walmart and Costco. A portion of nut butter sales continue to be donated to NuttZo’s sister nonprofit, Project Left Behind , which supports orphanages in Peru and India.
While there have been a lot of changes and growth in the last 13 years one thing remains the same: Her favorite way to eat NuttZo is to stick it in the fridge until it turns into a fudge-like consistency, which she then eats by the spoonful.
Due to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, Dietz-LiVolsi had a little more free time last year to experiment in the kitchen. She did the sourdough starter thing and ate lots of homemade bread even though she is gluten-free but she also came up with the three new flavors that launched this year.
“I love that part, that’s like my meditation,” she said of crafting flavors, cooking and coming up with recipes.
“I was bored at home and all you could do is cook and eat. Once I finally got off of the sourdough starter episode I was playing around with tahini…I fell in love with tahini.”
A Middle Eastern condiment made of ground sesame seeds, tahini is an ingredient found in hummus or baba ghanoush, offering a nutty, earthy flavor.
For years, customers had asked for a seed butter but Dietz-LiVolsi never liked the taste of purely seed butters. Playing around in the kitchen she came up with her five seed tahini butter, a combination of sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seed, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. The new flavor launched nationwide in Whole Foods in May.
Dietz-LiVolsi calls it “Tahini with a twist” and she likes to put the stuff on almost anything: She said it’s “off the hook” with some quinoa or in zucchini hummus or paired with granola and almond milk for breakfast. She adds garlic, lemon juice, a little olive oil and maple syrup to make a dressing to drizzle atop roasted veggies.
“Honestly out of all of the butters, I use the tahini the most right now,” she said.
With the ketogenic lifestyle and diet trend taking off, she then started thinking about doing something with a coconut butter base.
The coconut butter has a rich flavor, a mix of macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds and Brazil nuts, offering just one gram of sugar and 2 net carbs per serving. It is thinner than normal nut butters and perfect to dab, scoop or smear on a keto snack.
“I played around with it in the kitchen, kept tweaking it and finally nailed it,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome. It kind of blows my mind…It is like a macaroon in a jar.”
The flavor launched two months ago and overtook the brand’s Power Fuel: “People go crazy over it,” she said.
Taking the keto butter a step further, she thought of adding chocolate. She thought she had the recipe perfected but she discovered that coconut sugar wasn’t keto so she had to go back to the drawing board and worked instead with monkfruit.
The combination of coconut and nuts is paired with the high quality monkfruit and 65% dark chocolate, “It is like off the hook amazing,” Dietz- LiVolsi said of the flavor that sold 200 jars on its one-day launch sale on July 7. “You feel like you’re doing something that you should feel guilty about.”
In addition to the flavor development, the pandemic brought its ups and downs. As a shelf stable product, April 2020 was one of NuttZo’s largest months ever but where they faced challenges throughout the year was slow-downs in ingredient availability and packing. As grab and go foods were among the worst-hit markets during the pandemic—they had to stop production of their refrigerated protein snack bars and hope to start production up again in August. The bars, called Bold BiteZ, come in flavors like almond, honey and collagen; and almond, maple and matcha.
From the beginning, a big part of NuttZo has always been giving back. Since adopting her two sons from Ukraine, Dietz-LiVolsi became committed to helping orphans, with proceeds of NuttZo sales going to her nonprofit Project Left Behind. For many years, one of their beneficiaries has been the Hogar Semillas de Jesus Children’s Home in Peru. The home’s founder, the Peruvian educator and “angelic” Isabel Baufume, sadly passed away in January 2020. Her daughter now runs the home.
Project Left Behind supports the home financially and pre-pandemic was taking volunteer trips annually, completing projects to help improve the home and meeting the children that live there: “All of the visits are magical,” Dietz-LiVolsi said.
While she was unable to visit this last year, Dietz-LiVolsi was thrilled to learn that students from the home are now headed to university, some to mechanic school, one to be a nurse and one to culinary school.
“It’s created this amazing positive domino effect where it’s giving kids hope that they really do have a future to think about and plan,” she said. “That makes it all worthwhile.”
Dietz-LiVolsi hopes to be able to visit Peru again by the end of this year and start up the trips again in May 2022.
Learn more at nuttzo.com
Next year, Dietz-LiVolsi also hopes to release a cookbook with all things NuttZo, filled with her kitchen explorations.
Here’s just a taste:
Chocolate Chia Mousse
3 Tbsp Chia
4 Tbsp NuttZo Chocolate Keto or any NuttZo nut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 Tbsp Monk Fruit
1 Tbsp Instant Coffee dissolved in 4 Tbsp hot water
1 - 13.5oz. Can whole fat coconut milk
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for approximately 4 hours or until the mousse has firmed up. Top with strawberries, shredded coconut and macadamia nuts.
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