Spiced Hot Chocolate

spiced hot chocolate
Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

As one year comes to an end and another begins, why not notice the simple things in life that bring us joy—like snuggling up with a cup of our healthy spiced hot chocolate?

Spiced chocolate has a long history, and for good reason. It’s delicious. The classic cinnamon-chocolate combination is a balanced way to consume a naturally sweet drink, while also helping your body process it, as cinnamon helps balance blood sugar levels.

Cocoa powder also offers many health benefits, including being rich in particular antioxidants, which may help improve cardiovascular health, blood circulation and brain functioning. And we can’t forget about the high levels of anti-inflammatory properties from the powerful combination of black pepper and turmeric. While they each have their own anti-inflammatory properties, when black pepper and turmeric are mixed these properties are drastically enhanced, meaning the more flavorful your coco is, the better it is for you.

Unlike many hot chocolate recipes, which are high in sugar, this flavorful treat is sweetened with only dates and a touch of maple syrup; adding good for you nutrients along with sweetness. This recipe can also be made with any milk preference, meaning you can fit it into a dairy-free or vegan lifestyle. This recipe is a perfect guide to a flavorful, sweet hot chocolate that you and your body will love.

  • 4 cups milk of choice (oat, almond, soy)
  • 8-10 pitted dates
  • 4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

*Optional: coconut milk or heavy cream, to make whipped cream for garnish

  1. Bring milk to a simmer in the microwave or on the stovetop.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender
  3. Blend on high for approximately 1 minute.  The longer you blend, the more frothy it will become.
  4. Pour into 4 mugs. If desired, top with coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  5. Enjoy!

Plant Based Milk: There are many different plant based milk options: soy, almond, cashew, oat, pea, hazelnut, etc. All are great nondairy options and in general will have less fat and mostly made up of mono-unsaturated fat to support cardiovascular health. Choosing which one is healthiest isn’t about the milk base — it’s about what kind of additives are in it so make sure to read the ingredient list to ensure there is not added sugar, flavoring and thickeners (carrageenan, guar gum, or vegetable oil).

Dates: A healthier substitute for refined sugar it contains minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc for bone health and support a health nervous system. They are very high in fiber that will assist in blood sugar control and aid in a healthy digestion. Very potent with antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid to help reduce inflammation, promote heart health, and reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s diseases and provide anticancer effects.

Cocoa powder: Improved cardiovascular health by the polyphenols (antioxidants) reducing the levels of nitric oxide in our blood, helping to increase blood flow through arteries and blood vessels as well as increase blood flow to the brain to support stable brain functioning.

Cinnamon:  It has been shown to enhance motor function and normalize neurotransmitter levels. It can help improve insulin sensitivity and maintain stable blood sugar by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes that slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the GI tract.

Turmeric & black pepper:  Along with being one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory substances it can also boost cognition. Turmeric has been linked to improving brain function and lowering the risk of brain diseases. It is also an anti-stressor by increasing secretion of dopamine and serotonin. Curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed in the bloodstream, so it should be combined with black pepper, as it contains the substance pipeline which enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.  It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory compound at the molecular level – blocks the molecule NF-kB that turns on inflammatory genes in our cells.  Increases antioxidant capacity of our bodies by neutralizing free radicals on its own and stimulates our body’s own antioxidant enzymes.  It has been shown to improve endothelial function as well.

Vanilla Extract: Low calorie flavor made from macerated vanilla beans in solution of alcohol and water. The extract is used to enhance other flavors in baking.

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