Smooth or crunchy, peanut butter is a pantry staple for most people. Whether spread on toast or eaten by the spoonful, that delicious oily and, of course, nutty (especially in its crunchy form) goodness is what makes the spread so desirable to the taste buds and leaves you wanting more.
With health and nutrition always on his mind, Dan Barrett, University of Wollongong Public Health graduate and aspiring sprinter, can’t get enough peanut butter on his spoon. What started out as a bit of fun for him in the kitchen while in search of a better quality nut spread, is now an up and running business. Dan is blitzing nuts, nuts and more nuts and has now launched, the NOOD Food Co., a healthy line of peanut butter, including six different flavours all free from additives and nasty ingredients, showcasing what it should all be about: nuts, particularly peanuts in the case of the NOOD Food Co.
We sat down with NOOD Food himself, Dan Barrett, to talk peanut butter, his vision, how much of his product he consumes per week and more.
Have you always loved peanut butter?
When I was a kid, I was a big fan of peanut butter. I used to eat way too much of it. Over the last couple of years, I made a health shift and became conscious of what I was eating. I was eating a lot of peanut butter but wasn’t all that happy with what was out there in the market, so I did a little investigating in current brands and how they’re sourcing their materials and what they were using in the products. I wasn’t too happy with what was in them. I don’t want to bash other brands but a lot of their ingredients come from China and are marketed as if they’re healthy. With that in mind, I started making my own at home – experimenting with different nuts, blends and ratios. It ended up being pretty good. I shared it with friends and family and it just kind of evolved from there. I never had the idea to start a business. I was just having fun making peanut butter in the kitchen. It was just this little embryonic idea that evolved into something I didn’t think about at the time.
Where do you source your nuts from?
All are sourced from Australia. My peanuts are all from Kingroy in Queensland – a premium peanut growing space in Australia and all my other nuts I use are Australian as well.
Are they activated?
My almonds are activated.
You’re an athlete as well, right?
I am, yes. I’m a track and field sprinter… Aspiring. I’m at the state level pushing national level. I’ve been sprinting for the last three or four years now. My whole life revolves around health and fitness.
So, coupling your athletics and your healthy lifestyle with your nut butters has worked well?
I think so. I train with a strategy and have a schedule and routine, and I think you should be eating like that as well. The food you eat should complement the training that you do in the gym or out at the track or wherever you are and whatever sort of fitness you’re doing.
The name NOOD Food? How did it come about?
A good friend of mine, Tegan, she’s actually my designer and has her own agency, and I were playing around with a few words last year and we came up with the concept of NOOD Food being nuts and food mashed together. It kind of works in more than one way. My philosophy in life is that food should be nude in the sense that it’s free from additives, impurities, refine man made products. So eating food that’s naked essentially in it’s pure and natural state is obviously going to benefit you in the highest possible way.
What flavours of nut butter do you have at the moment?
Six flavours. We’ve got peanut butter, peanut almond, peanut cinnamon, peanut chocolate and peanut coconut, which is the crowd favourite. It’s organic cold pressed coconut oil. We also have peanut pecan. They’re the six but I’m working on some newbies at the moment – peanut butter coffee and another chocolate, and a few other new tasty ones.
What’s your favourite?
Probably peanut coconut. I’m sold out at the moment.
How do you like to have it?
Honestly, on a spoon, most typically. But I put it in desserts, have it with fruit, on my muesli with yoghurt. Lots of different ways. I’m working on an E-book at the moment which should be out towards the end of the year. It’s 30 things you can do with peanut butter.
And you’ve already got an E-book out at the moment?
Yeah. That was a fun idea at the start of the year I decided to work on. I didn’t have much experience writing recipes but I had a base of things I would make at home regularly. I took some pretty photos and compiled it into an E-Book. It’s 8 recipes, which are all refine sugar free, additive free, processed food free. There’s some vegan recipes in there as well. Some baked and raw treats. All recipes with the idea that food shouldn’t take a long time to make. I’m very time sensitive with everything I do. Food shouldn’t be too complicated. Keeping it simple, fast and clean that anyone can make. You don’t need to have years of experience. Less is more is the main focus with my cooking and food. Less is definitely more.
You’ve been at various markets recently. Where can we find you selling your nut butter?
At the moment I’m doing the University [of Wollongong] markets, Market Alley. That’s every fortnight during session at the main campus. I’m also at The Farm’s Markets at Killalea. It’s a monthly thing on the first Saturday of each month. I’m looking at getting into the Coledale markets, which is the last Sunday of every month, I believe, and then also the Kiama Seaside Markets on a Wednesday. But at the moment, it’s just Killalea and Market Alley.
What’s the grand plan?
I haven’t really thought too much into the future. The next step I think is working on a few new products and not just nut butter. Grain free muesli that’s refine sugar free and additive free, granolas. Just creating nutritious food that’s affordable and practical. The next couple of years I just want to share my food vision to people and get the brand out there. Not putting to much pressure on it. Who knows? Maybe it will take off and become a full-time gig. It may run for a couple of years and I’ll have a bit of fun with it. It’s not really about the money at this point. Obviously, it needs to turn a profit to stay afloat financially. But at the epicentre of what I do, it’s all about sharing good food with good people. I love food and I love interacting with the community and people. It’s always nice to meet fellow foodies.
Speaking of foodies, do you draw inspiration from anyone in particular?
A few people I follow online. Nutritionist and bloggers. I follow Dan Churchill and have his cookbooks.
Yeah, I’ve got that one. He’s one of the main people follow.
He’s got a YouTube channel. Is that something you want to do down the track?
I think so. Time permitting I’d love to. I’d love to have a bigger online presence. Doing health and fitness, and nutrition tips as well. That’s kind of in the works at the moment with a few people I work with and a few athletes.
To finish, how much nut butter do you eat in a week?
In a week? I don’t know if I want to answer this. [Laughs] At least two jars a week. That’s why I started. I was spending too much money on nut butter. It’s fine in moderation. If you’re going to be indulging, rather than reach for that chocolate bar, I reach for that peanut butter. It’s a much better alternative.
Thanks for you time and all the best.