That sweet tooth many of us get after eating a salty, savory dinner is something that is hard to fight. For as long as I can remember, my parents reached for Dove dark chocolate or Hershey’s Kisses after dinner, because that sweet bite after a savory meal is heavenly. Personally, I have always reached for a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup after dinner, as peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite food combinations. Over the holidays, I devoured any leftover dessert item I could find in the fridge, but felt guilty afterwards because I desired a healthier alternative to dessert. My mother made a very smart buy for me this holiday season, as I unwrapped what looked like an ordinary peanut butter-type spread. It was not. It was Wild Friends Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter, which quickly made its way into the top 10 best foods I have ever eaten.

This chocolatey, peanut buttery goodness with a hint of coconut was what I had been missing out on. All three of my favorite flavors combined in a healthy, vegan spread that contained only 5 grams of sugar and a substantial 6 grams of protein per serving. Nothing is lost, only gained when eating this delicious and nutritious peanut spread. With a minimal amount of sugar per 2 tablespoons and a decent amount of protein, I can have as much as I want without having to feel guilty afterwards.

When I find a company I love, I do my research. Wild Friends Foods was founded in 2011 by two college students named Keeley and Erika. After launching their company, they dedicated their lives to creating “friendly” foods that truly embody the term “clean eating.” Wild Friends nut butter spreads are unique to the rest of the nut butter world because of one simple change in the ingredients: the exclusion of palm oil.

Palm oil is one of the main ingredients found on almost every nut butter spread ingredient list and, in recent years, it has been a hot and controversial topic as studies begin to show the health effects and environmental damage the use of palm oil causes. Palm oil is 50 percent saturated, and although it is not as saturated as other oils and butters, it is not necessarily the healthiest oil to have. However, the larger concern with palm oil is how it is extracted. Oil palms are often grown in rainforests, leading to deforestation when producers come in and clear the areas looking to extract palm oil from the trees. Deforestation releases carbon into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.

Besides the exclusion of palm oil in their nut butter, Wild Friends takes ordinary nut butter and turns it into something extraordinary. Their diverse list of flavors, such as the chocolate coconut peanut butter I fell in love with, goes on as you scroll down the products page on their website. Flavors as original as chocolate pumpkin spice, vanilla espresso and even sugar cookie (yes, it’s true) can be purchased through their website. Most of these flavors can also be purchased through Amazon.

For the last month, I have been wondering how I got so lucky. I found an environmentally-friendly version of one of my favorite foods, a less sugary alternative to Reese’s peanut butter cups after dinner and yet another new company that I can spend months talking about and obsessing over. From their deliciously natural nut butter to their adorable logo and great marketing, Keeley and Erika have the right idea. It’s going to take a lot to top this Christmas gift.

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-- Junior -- Music

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