Written by Andrea Manitsas
As the raindrops and temperatures plummet - maybe even some snow - hardly anything feels better than a warm cup of cocoa. Sure, we try to stick to green tea and herbal teas that exude the fragrances of winter, but sometimes a hot chocolate is simply in order and certainly unrivaled. And your kids will not argue with that!
But, be careful with this treat. There is a way to indulge that is far healthier and equally as satisfying, for most brands of hot cocoa mix have partially hydrogenated oils - something that should definitely be avoided.
Trans fats result from hydrogenation, which have been shown to carry many health risks, not the least of which is an increase in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol which in turn raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. All you need to do is read the label to figure out whether your preferred brand is a hydrogenated offender.
Keep in mind: The FDA requires trans fats to be listed on Nutrition Facts labels of packaged foods. But, and this is a definite but, if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the label can state that the food is trans-fat free, even if partially hydrogenated oil is an ingredient. So whether the front has a "trans-fat free" claim or not, turn it around and inspect a little more carefully.
Though less convenient than purchasing a mix, you do have an option of homemade hot cocoa made with your extra touches of tlc and a discerning eye. All you need are the three key ingredients for a hot chocolate recipe: cocoa, "milk" and a sweetener. Here are some healthy ingredients to create your own personal concoction of hot and healthy cocoa:
- Milk - Organic milk, but soy, rice, almond and hemp milk can also work wonderfully
- Cocoa Powder - 70% dark chocolate or cocoa powder
- Sweetener – Instead of using sugar, consider some of these natural alternatives: honey, agave, stevia or coconut sugar (We also have a Guide to 10 Natural Sweeteners)