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Recipe Makeover: Peppermint Hot Chocolate from The Food Network

December 20, 2011

By Lisa Roberts-Lehan

A steaming mug of hot chocolate may just be the perfect, decadent treat for a cold winter’s day. Our take on the Food Network’s Peppermint Hot Chocolate is delicious, easy to make and packed with better-for-you ingredients—and far tastier than instant hot chocolate, which is loaded with sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. Whip up a batch for friends and remember just how cozy winter can be.

Increase nutrients and flavor by choosing organic milk and cream from grass-fed cows not injected with antibiotics or hormones. Can’t find dairy products from pasture-raised cows at your local farmer’s market or grocery store? Try the Eat Wild and Local Harvest websites to find local markets and producers.

If you’re vegan or allergic to milk, replace with non-dairy organic almond milk, the creamiest of nut milks—here’s how to make your own:

  • Combine 3 cups raw organic almonds (preferably soaked overnight and rinsed) with 4 ½ cups of water in a high-speed blender.  Blend until smooth.
  • Strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or container (pushing it through with a spatula helps).  Return the milk to the blender and add 1  tablespoon organic vanilla extract, or scrape the inside of half a vanilla bean.
  • The almond milk can be stored in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Replace processed granulated sugar with organic coconut palm sugar or local organic raw honey.  Both are all-natural and unrefined lower-glycemic sweeteners packed with health-giving properties.  Use a one-to-one ratio for the palm sugar and a one-to-three ratio for the honey. Adjust sweetness to your personal taste.

Boost antioxidants and other essential health-supporting nutrients with organic dark chocolate — a superfood! — made from at least 60% cacao.  Fun fact:  the Aztecs considered chocolate a gift of the gods; Emperor Montezuma drank chocolate from gold goblets and believed it to be an aphrodisiac, as well as a source of energy and wisdom.  Sounds good to us!

Swap peppermint oil with 4 tablespoons finely chopped organic fresh mint.  If you can’t find mint this time of year in your area, check out the organic peppermint flavor extract available from Frontier Natural Products.

Garnish with organic dark chocolate shavings or fresh mint leaves instead of sugar-sweetened whipped cream.

For Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate: Swap the peppermint for ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp of chili powder, ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper, ½ tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

Wishing we’d give one of your favorite recipes the Clean Plates treatment? Submit the recipe using the comments feature below, and we’ll do our best to give it a makeover in the coming weeks.

BIO: Lisa Roberts-Lehan is a freelance writer, holistic chef, and nutritional consultant based in New York City. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her work has been featured in Brad Lamm’s JUST 10 LBS, Erika Lenkert and Brook Alpert’s Healthy Nutritious Pregnancy, as well as AOL/Fox, Plum TV, SOBeFiT magazine and McFadden Performing Arts publications.

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