Nothing hits the spot in winter like a good cup of hot cocoa. While some recipes call for cream and melted chocolate, yielding an intense, decadent dessert, the one we spell out here shows you how healthy (and delicious) hot cocoa can be. That’s right, healthy. Pair it with popcorn and you have one of our favorite winter snacks. Let’s show you how to make it, shall we?
This depends on your preferences and what you’re looking for in your hot cocoa. Unsweetened almond milk will give you the lowest-calorie drink, but it’s pretty shy on nutrients (although the fortified kind will give you calcium). Cow’s milk gives you protein, calcium and vitamins A and D. Choosing low-fat or reduced-fat milk will give you a bit of the creaminess of milk, with fewer calories than whole milk.
All that positive news about chocolate and your health? It’s talking about cocoa powder. Cocoa powder (and specifically natural cocoa powder rather than the Dutch-processed kind) has antioxidants, which promote blood flow — a benefit that may help with memory and heart health. Use a heaping tablespoon per cup of milk.
Let the bitterness of cocoa shine by using a minimal amount of sweetener. Use a teaspoon of sugar or, for an extra dose of antioxidants, a drizzle of maple syrup. For a sugar-free treat, you can use a touch of stevia. A bit of vanilla extract also adds a sweet flavor without sugar.
Cinnamon, cardamom and ginger all pair well with cocoa and deliver a host of antioxidants, as well as flavor.