Nov 29, 2023 Whipping Up Healthy Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate is a classic treat that helps everybody warm up in the winter. However, pre-made packets are usually filled with processed sugar and other artificial preservatives and additives. Lauren Crosta, MS, RD, a Clinical Dietician with Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, shares how to avoid the pre-made packets, and instead, switch up some ingredients to stick with a healthy diet while still getting your hot chocolate fix. Enjoy!

Healthy Ingredient Substitutes

You can customize this recipe depending on what you have, and which ingredients make your body feel the best. The only key is to try and stick to all-natural ingredients and natural sweeteners, as well as keeping dairy-free alternatives in mind.

This means using unsweetened cocoa powder and turning to ingredients such as raw honey or pure maple syrup as your natural sweeteners. Depending on what milk substitute you like, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened soy milk, unsweetened coconut milk, or oat milk, can all work as a healthier base for your beverage. If you don’t want to use a dairy-free alternative, other suitable base options include low-fat and fat-free milk.

How to Make It

For one serving you will need 1 cup of the milk of your choice, 2 ½ teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ tablespoon of the natural sweetener of your choice (raw honey or pure maple syrup), and ¼ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

  • Step 1: Heat the milk on the stove over medium heat for about five minutes or until it is hot, but not boiling.
  • Step 2: Add the unsweetened cocoa powder, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Combine using a whisk, over the heat, for about one to two minutes.

Extra Ideas 

Just because it is a healthier version of hot chocolate, doesn’t mean it has to be any less fun.

  • If you choose, add a small dash of non-dairy whipped cream, sugar-free marshmallows, or dark chocolate shavings on top.
  • You can also add a twist during step two of the process by making a Mexican hot chocolate by adding in a cinnamon stick and pinch of cayenne or instead a peanut butter hot chocolate by stirring in some powdered peanut butter to your liking.
  • There’s also plenty of sugar-free syrup flavorings available that you can experiment with, like peppermint or vanilla.

Although it might take some time to figure out your favorite, playing around with different options to find your perfect cup of healthy hot cocoa to cozy up with on the couch this winter will be worth it.

Learn more about Nutrition Counseling Services available at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center.