Hot chocolate is a festive treat this time of year, but store-bought hot cocoa packets aren’t the best. They’re loaded with extra sugar and fat, as well as preservatives and difficult-to-pronounce ingredients.
Everything in chocolate isn’t bad for you. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate have numerous health benefits. They’re high in polyphenols, naturally occurring antioxidants found in foods like fruits, tea, and wine. They’re also healthy, helping to improve blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
Cocoa has a slew of other advantages. It can improve mood and depression symptoms cancer-protective properties.
Creating your own hot cocoa from scratch is fun because you get to choose the ingredients!
Cocoa-flavored herbal coffee or functional mushroom elixirs are popular cocoa drinks. These cocoa drinks have all the cozy vibes of hot cocoa, but with the added benefit of available mushrooms and potent herbs. To sweeten them, use liquid stevia or a little honey, and add a dash of warm almond milk to make it creamy.
If you’re watching your weight, there are several ways to lighten up your homemade hot cocoa. You can use 2 percent or skim milk or your preferred unsweetened dairy-free substitute. Unsweetened vanilla almond milk is an excellent option. It contains about 30 calories per cup and is also a good source of calcium.
Raw cacao powder is an excellent way to up the nutrient content. Many of the beneficial nutrients are lost during the roasting and alkalizing processes used to make cocoa powder. Raw cacao powder contains more nutrients.
To get the most antioxidants (and health benefits) from your cocoa, choose unprocessed cocoa powder (often labeled as unsweetened cocoa powder) and avoid Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
Sugar can be reduced by using natural sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit extract or sugar alcohols such as erythritol, which have been shown in studies to cause the smallest stomach upset.
Instead of whipped cream or marshmallows, add flavor to your hot cocoa by dusting it with cinnamon, vanilla powder, shaved chocolate, or even a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick.
Hot chocolate is a delicious cold-weather treat that is ideal after a day on the slopes or playing in the snow. Make it yourself for a healthy indulgence and avoid all the chemicals, preservatives, and added sugar.