THE HEALTHY HOT CHOCOLATE WE ALL NEED
The hot cocoa that’s good for the soul, and not so bad for the body
Sometimes all a girl needs is a day to curl up in a sea of blankets, watch classic Disney movies and indulge in a giant mug of hot chocolate. And today was just one of those days.
I just needed a day to myself, where I could snuggle down with my favorite movie in my sweat pants, and pamper myself with a decadent treat… And obviously that treat needed to be chocolatey! I’ve been so cold lately that I wanted to de-frost with something warm and cozy and … well, a little bit indulgent! And what is more indulgent and cozy than a mug of decadent hot chocolate?!
A few years ago, I decided to create this healthy (but equally delicious) hot chocolate recipe that was both dairy-free and refined sugar-free.
I also love to double this recipe (a few times over) to make a large pot of hot chocolate for my family on Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition.
CHOCOLATE CRAVINGS ARE REAL
It’s totally normal for you to crave treats like chocolate and hot chocolate every once in a while – especially when you are feeling tired, emotional or during that time of the month. According to numerous studies, cocoa may actually have some positive effects on your mood by reducing stress and improving overall psychological well-being – potentially making you feel happier for a few hours.
Cocoa is rich in polyphenols, including flavonoids, which are naturally occurring antioxidants found in some foods and are said to have many health benefits including better blood flow, lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation, as well as improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels. A recent study conducted by the University of Tübingen Medical School in Germany showed that drinking high polyphenol cocoa improves calmness and contentment, while various other studies support the theory that cocoa helps boost mood and psychological health.
While cocoa may boost your mood for a while, the sugar in most chocolatey treats can cause inflammation in your body, and may lead to weight gain, blood sugar problems and possibly heart disease amongst other things. There are many health reasons why I try to avoid sugar completely, and with so many alternatives available in stores today it’s easy to replace sugar with other healthier options such as stevia, maple syrup or honey.
Today, I chose to use stevia in my hot chocolate, but you can use maple syrup or honey if you are looking for that added flavor (but be mindful that honey and maple syrup have more calories than stevia). Unlike sugar, stevia has hardly any calories and may help to control blood sugar and insulin levels and lower blood pressure. Maple Syrup, another sugar alternative, contains numerous antioxidants and may help improve digestion while adding it’s unique and delicious flavor to any chocolate treat. And don’t forget about honey! Honey is an amazing sweetener that has been used for thousands of years and is said to have many healing benefits. It is also sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use as much of it to get the desired level of sweetness.
Along with the cocoa and stevia, I like to use unsweetened almond milk which has fewer calories (only 13 calories per 100ml) than whole milk (45 calories per 100 ml), but tastes just as good in my opinion. It’s also a great alternative to dairy if you have an intolerance or allergy toward dairy, or if you are following a plant-based or vegan diet. When I really feel like pampering myself, I add a bit of coconut cream to get that luxurious creamy-ness. However, this is optional as this hot chocolate recipe still works without it.
Finally, I love to add a sprinkle of cinnamon to give my hot chocolate that extra something. I find cinnamon helps to tie everything together and create that perfectly decadent hot chocolate experience. Cinnamon is also loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to have many other medicinal properties.
So don’t feel guilty about snuggling down with this healthier alternative to classic hot chocolate using almond milk and cocoa powder. Simple and easy to make, as well as, sugar-free and dairy-free!
Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe
-1 + 1/2 cups almond milk (unsweetened)
-1 + 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
-Stevia to sweeten (or instead, 2 teaspoons honey/ maple syrup)
-optional topping (2 Tablespoons coconut cream)
-Add the almond milk, cocoa powder, sweetener and cinnamon to a small pot.
-Heat on the stove until it starts to simmer.
-Pour into a mug and (optional) top with 2 Tablespoons of coconut cream and cinnamon.
MADE WITH LOVE BY LIEZL JAYNE XO
Ps. WATCH ME MAKE THIS RECIPE BELOW
You can also see how easy it is to make this healthy hot chocolate recipe in my video below!
Recipe, photos and video by Liezl Jayne Strydom – for liezljayne.com