Hey Angels and Alphas,
We all know that hot chocolate is a fun and exciting treat this time of year, regardless of how old you are. But what you probably don’t know is that these store-bought hot cocoa packets aren’t really your best choice in terms of health and nutrition.
They’re chock full of additives such as added sugar and fat, and not to mention, they’re mixed in with preservatives and ingredients that you’d have difficulties pronouncing.
So how can we satisfy our craving for a cup of hot chocolate this time of year without having to worry about the negative effects of certain ingredients… and instead switch to healthier alternatives that can satisfy your body, mind, and soul altogether?
#1 GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR COCOA
Every ingredient in hot chocolate isn’t automatically bad for you. In fact, ingredients such as cocoa powder and dark chocolate have countless health benefits. They’re abundant in polyphenols – naturally occurring antioxidants usually found in fruits, veggies, wine, and tea. They’re very healthy for your heart, they allow your body to get rid of pesky inflammation, and they improve your blood pressure and good cholesterol. All of this means that you’ll be getting better blood flow to your brain and heart, and you can’t miss out on benefits like that.
Cocoa has a plethora of other health benefits, as well. It can work to improve your mood, symptoms of depression, and it also has properties that protect you from cancer. It’s a superfood or super ingredient when it comes down to it, so it’s not automatically something you should frown upon or think it’s somehow bad for you.
Making your own hot cocoa from scratch is generally pretty easy. This is because you get to choose your own ingredients! When you’re making cocoa drinks from the comfort of your own home, you can sit in collagen powder for added protein. This way, you’ll instantly be increasing the satiating power of your hot cocoa, and if you use chocolate collagen powder, you can even get a more chocolate-y flavor.
One of the best, healthiest options for cocoa drinks includes cocoa-flavored herbal coffee or even functional mushroom elixirs. These cocoa drinks are often full of the cozy vibes of hot cocoa, but they bring you the added benefit of functional mushrooms and powerful, healthy herbs. You can even use liquid stevia or a little honey if you want to sweeten them up, then a dash of warm almond milk to make your hot cocoa creamy and filling.
#2 LIGHTEN THINGS UP!
If calories are what you’re worried about, you should know there are several ways you can lighten up your homemade cup of hot cocoa. You can make it using 2 percent skim milk, or go for your favorite unsweetened dairy-free substitutes. One of these might include unsweetened vanilla almond milk – a great choice for hot cocoa. It has only about 30 calories per cup, and it’s a great source of calcium.
If you want to ramp up the nutritional intake of your hot cocoa, go with raw cacao powder. Many of the beneficial, healthy nutrients inside cacao are usually lost in the process of roasting and alkalizing that’s required to create cocoa powder. But raw cacao powder is much denser when it comes to nutrients.
If you can only get your hands on some cocoa powder, make sure you’re choosing an unprocessed cocoa powder. This will usually be labeled as unsweetened cocoa powder. Also, make sure to avoid Dutch-processed variations because they’re largely stripped of antioxidants and health benefits.
You can also reduce the amount of sugar in your cup by using natural sweeteners such as stevia or even monk fruit extract. They have been shown in studies to cause the least amount of digestive distress.
If you want to up the nutrition and lower the calories, skip all the whipped cream and marshmallow toppings and instead boost flavor by dusting your hot cocoa with some cinnamon, vanilla, shaved chocolate, or even a bit of cayenne pepper if you want that little “zip.”
THE BOTTOM LINE IS…
Hot chocolate is a very fun, exciting cold-weather treat that’s perfect after a long day of hitting the slopes or playing in the snow. You can create a healthy indulgence by making it yourself so you can avoid all the chemicals, added sugar, and preservatives. This way, you’ll be able to avoid a delicious cup of hot chocolate that will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but also bring you a ton of nutritional value.