Judging from the calorie counts of hot chocolate at places like Starbucks, you’d think that hot cocoa is an unhealthy drink – and in some cases it is. But, hot cocoa can be one of the healthier drinks to enjoy – if it’s made with the right ingredients. Although you can buy sugar-free prepackaged hot cocoa mixes, they often contain the sweetener Aspartame which some people want to avoid. Here are some ideas for making a healthy hot chocolate that won’t cause a moment’s guilt.
Make a Healthy Hot Chocolate: Use Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is not only low in calories, but it’s also rich in flavonoids which reduces cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of a heart attack. One study showed that a cup of hot chocolate made with cocoa powder is healthier than drinking a cup of tea or red wine. For guilt-free hot cocoa, switch to cocoa powder and hold off on the chocolate syrup and chocolate chips.
Make a Healthy Hot Cocoa: Use the Right Milk
The decadent, rich hot chocolates you get in restaurants are usually made with whole milk and some even have added cream. Doesn’t do much for the health value, does it? Reduce the calories and fat by making your hot cocoa using low-fat milk or non-dairy low-fat soy or almond milk instead.
Make a Healthy Hot Chocolate: Go Light on the Sugar
In some cultures, hot cocoa is enjoyed without a sweetener; but most Americans like a little sugar in their hot chocolate. If you use sugar, go light with it, or use a natural, low-calorie sweetener such as Stevia instead.
Make a Healthy Hot Chocolate: Other Ideas for Making It Healthier
Sprinkle some cinnamon into hot cocoa. It’ll help to lower blood sugars and it also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Try adding a little tart cherry juice to your hot cocoa. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Puree blueberries or raspberries in the blender and stir a spoonful into your hot cocoa to add more antioxidants. Blueberries are particularly good for brain health. Add a spoonful of peanut butter when preparing hot cocoa to boost the protein content. For a unique flavor and lots of antioxidant power, use flavored green tea such as pomegranate green tea to replace the milk when preparing hot chocolate. It’ll be thinner in texture but will have a totally unique taste.