By Jessica Hamlin
On these dreary winter days, few things are cozier than a mug of hot chocolate, but there’s nothing warm and wonderful about the sugar rush and subsequent crash that comes with drinking supermarket cocoa mixes.
The good news is, whether you make your own or buy a mix, healthier hot chocolate options abound for the perfect snack or dessert, and many come with added superfoods. But even the simplest cup brings benefits: If you choose organic dark chocolate with 70% or higher cacao content, you’ll get a healthy dose of antioxidants, as well as manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron. If that isn’t enough, cacao increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
Watch the video above to learn the secrets of making Yvonne Ardestani’s Spicy Hot Chocolate with Coconut Whipped Cream (recipe below), a decadently rich drink with anti-inflammatory turmeric, ginger, and cayenne. Prefer a ready-made option? Buy one of these better-for-you hot chocolate mixes.
HOT CHOCOLATE MIXES
This healthier brand of dark chocolate bars, spreads and coconut butter cups is Paleo and mostly organic. It offers a Paleo hot chocolate with a boost of Vital Proteins collagen.
The most plentiful protein in the body, collagen has a wealth of benefits including helping joint function and muscle growth, combating aging and healing wounds. Vital Proteins collagen powder, sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows, is flavorless and has no gritty texture like some protein powders.
Plus, one serving of Eating Evolved’s collagen hot chocolate with organic cacao has 8 grams of protein, so you can fuel up while you sip away. (Wondering why it’s cacao and not cocoa? Glad you asked. Raw cacao is less processed than cocoa, and contains more minerals and antioxidants.)
This hot cocoa mix is a superfoods superhero—it has reishi, maca, turmeric and mucuna pruriens, a vine used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Reishi mushrooms have relaxing and healing properties, turmeric is anti-inflammatory and an immune booster, and mucuna pruriens can help ease anxiety.
Drink this mix unsweetened, or add a touch of raw honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup.
Though it’s billed as a coffee alternative, Macaccino with cacao tastes more like hot chocolate to us. It also has a nuttiness and non-jittery energy boost thanks to maca, an antioxidant-rich root that also purportedly helps lifts your mood. Cinnamon in the mix not only adds flavor and a warming touch but is also linked to lowering blood pressure, as well as fighting against fungus, bacteria, and inflammation.
Macaccino has three drink mixes—Original Roasted, Magical Mint and Black Reserve. Magical Mint’s peppermint leaf helps with digestion, while the Black Reserve triples down with black, red and yellow maca, plus beetroot powder with nitric oxide, which helps promote circulation and lower blood pressure.
Macaccino’s mixes are unsweetened and best served with a little-unsweetened vanilla almond or coconut milk added. Mix in a bit of raw honey or maple syrup if you like a sweeter taste.
Mushroom Hot Cocoa Mix sounds strange, but we promise, the folks at Four Sigmatic are not adding sliced creminis to their drink mixes. The company blends in exotic varieties like reishi and cordyceps, which lend a unique savory flavor, then sweetens the mixes with just a bit of coconut sugar.
Cordyceps and guarana, found in one of their mushroom hot cacao mixes, boost mental and physical energy. Cayenne, also in there, gives the mix a spicy kick and can aid digestion, encourage weight loss and enhance circulation. Not even a Nintendo mushroom can help Mario power up like that.
A HOMEMADE HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE
This homemade hot cacao drink is packed with superfoods like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, made with almond and coconut milk, and topped with a velvety coconut whipped cream that could also be used on desserts and coffee. It will quickly become your new favorite drink.
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- Pinch ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup organic almond milk
- ¾ cup organic coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons or 2 small squares of vegan dark chocolate
- A dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream, optional
- Make the Coconut Whipped Cream first, if using.
- In a small saucepot, add the cinnamon, turmeric, cacao powder, coconut sugar, cardamom, cayenne pepper and vanilla. Slowly add the milk while whisking until there are no longer any lumps.
- Place the pot on medium heat, bringing the milk to a boil, and stirring occasionally.
- Once milk boils for 1 minute, turn off the heat and add the pieces of dark chocolate. Quickly whisk until the dark chocolate is melted and dissolved in the milk.
- Add cayenne pepper and whisk. Taste and season to taste. Add more coconut sugar if you’d like more sweetness, more cayenne for more heat, or more cinnamon for more warmth.
- Pour into your favorite mug. Top with the Coconut Whipped Cream and shredded chocolate and cinnamon, if you wish.