What could be more comforting on a cold winter day than hot chocolate? This delicious winter treat has all the warm and snuggly feels WITHOUT all the sugar, preservatives and chemicals found in most prepared hot chocolate drinks. Even if you’re used to making your own, the quality of the dairy and the amount of sugar in those recipes can bump these out of the healthy treat category. Here’s how to adjust for fantastic nourishing version of this traditional holiday classic.
- Look for 100 % GRASS FED WHOLE milk, organic if possible. Be wary of “organic” milk that is not labeled 100% grass fed. Organic doesn’t guarantee the cows have been raised and fed according to their biological needs. Don’t fall for those sweet scenes on the side of the carton. According to the website of one of the largest organic dairy distributors in the country, the “organic” guidelines require that only 30% of their dry feed come from grazing, leaving the remaining 70% as grain- based. There are many health and environmental problems that go along with feeding grain to cattle. That’s another discussion entirely, but suffice it to say–it’s not good! You can get the basic idea here. And why whole milk? Haven’t we been told for decades it’s better to limit dairy fat? New evidence supports this advice as outdated. Full fat dairy has been shown to have multiple health benefits for weight control, blood sugar management and heart health.
- Buy quality organic cocoa, which has the potential of improving not only heart and brain health, but aids the immune system and may offer protection against some cancers. Read about the many health benefits of quality cocoa here!
- Use organic peppermint extract, or if you choose to use the essential oil make sure it’s a pure therapeutic grade (*In this article you can check out possible contraindications of ingesting the oil.) Peppermint is not only an awesome flavoring for a variety of foods, but is helpful in relieving digestive and respiratory problems, muscle pains and stress.
- Use Stevia for sweetener! Get organic Sweetleaf or Organic Traditions Green Stevia Powder. In it’s ideal form (directly from a plant), Stevia is possibly the best real food substitute for sugar that can be found. Obviously anything that can satisfactorily replace sugar in our diets has huge potential for decreasing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Yet with so many varieties and brands available it’s pretty confusing. Green leaf powders are my own preference for baking, but be sure to avoid the altered and processed blends such as Truvia. Additionally, Stevia has been shown to kill the bacteria that causes Lyme’s disease! Since we live in the country and have a lot of exposure to ticks, my own doctor has recommended this product a regular supplement to my diet.
Yes, ‘tis the season, but that doesn’t have to mean overloading our bodies with too much processed food and sugar. All that does is compromise our immune systems and make us cranky, sluggish and sick. As an alternative, try this holiday super-treat and let us know what you think!
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- 4 cups WHOLE 100% GRASS FED milk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder (add more if you like!)
- ½ tsp peppermint extract (or 5 drops high quality peppermint essential oil*)
- 1 tsp powdered STEVIA (adjust to taste)
Combine all the ingredients in a double boiler or bain-marie. Whisk (or use an immersion blender) until well blended and heat until it’s nice and hot but not boiling. Serve as is or with these easy-to-make healthy marshmallows. Then go put your feet up by the fire and enjoy!