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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Healthier Hot Chocolate

Oct 31, 2019 10:00AM
by Ayshica Andrews

A steaming mug of hot chocolate is the perfect antidote to cold winter evenings. It turns up the cozy and comfort, and is even better when elevated with ingredients that are beneficial. This hot chocolate is packed with nutrition and health-boosting effects while being incredibly satisfying and tasty. Oils and almond butter make it deliciously smooth, creamy and frothy. The flavor options guarantee happy taste buds, and just about every ingredient used has a beneficial effect on health. Grab a mug as a treat on a chilly evening or enjoy as a filling and indulgent nutrition-packed breakfast.

The Basic Ingredients

The most important ingredient in hot chocolate is the one that lends it the chocolatey goodness. In this recipe, raw cacao, a superfood, adds the chocolate flavor. Raw cacao is high in antioxidants and rich in minerals, such as magnesium and iron. It stimulates the release of dopamine, causing us to feel happy and satisfied. Simply put, chocolate makes us happy.

The almond butter adds protein and other benefits. Almonds are considered brain food since they boost specific brain functions, like memory. Almonds are rich in zinc, an antioxidant that boosts immunity and fights free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage and aging in our cells.

Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fat, which can aid in raising good cholesterol and burning fat. It also assists in curbing appetite.

Hemp oil is rich in fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3. These fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Hemp oil helps protect the brain from inflammation and can relieve tension in the muscles.

Quality raw honey is rich in antioxidants and a better alternative to sugar. It also contains minerals and vitamins.

To make this delicious hot chocolate, start out with the basic ingredients. Add in one of the flavor options and any combination of the supplemental health-boosting ingredients. For those with nut allergies, the almond butter can be replaced with chia seeds.

Basic Recipe: (serves 2)

16 oz of milk/plant milk

2 Tbsp almond butter

1 Tbsp coconut oil or hemp oil

2 Tbsp raw cacao

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp honey (or to taste)

·       In a saucepan, combine all ingredients (flavors and additives too, except cacao nibs, which are added at the end) and heat gently on medium heat.

·       Before it starts to boil, turn down the heat and blend until thick and frothy with an immersion blender or regular blender.

·       Adjust sweetness if necessary.

·       Pour into two mugs and sprinkle with some cacao nibs (optional).

Flavors

Mint: Add a ¼ tsp peppermint extract or heat milk to almost boiling, then pour over ½ cup of loose fresh peppermint. Steep 20 minutes, discard mint and follow the recipe. Mint is uplifting and aids digestion.

Southwestern spice: Add a ⅛ tsp each of clove, cinnamon, ancho chili, and a very small pinch of salt. Add a bit more ancho if spicier is preferred. The spices are warming and stimulating.

Rose and cardamom: Add 2 tsp of rose water and ¼ tsp ground cardamom. Rose is comforting and cardamom is warming. A lovely combination when holiday tensions run high.

Health-Boosting Additives

Any combination of these additions can be used.

When purchasing mushroom powders, look for organic dual-extracted powders. Mushrooms contain some water-soluble constituents called beta-glucans. They also contain alcohol-soluble compounds called triterpenes. A dual-extraction process extracts all the benefits the mushrooms have to offer.

123rf.com/Nattawut Lakjit

Lion’s mane (½ tsp): Studies have shown that lion's mane has incredible effects on brain health and can aid the fight against Alzheimer's and dementia. It stimulates the production of nerve growth factor, which helps restore the myelin sheath. This helps improve the nervous system of the entire body. Lion's mane helps with focus and supports the immune system. It also has an uplifting effect, improving mood after only four weeks of continued use.

123rf.com/ Raimonds Klavins

 

Cordyceps (½ tsp): Cordyceps is a powerful immune-supporting mushroom. It raises energy, due to depletion, and as a result, also increases concentration. It is also useful when dealing with stress.


123rf.com/Phong Giap Van

 

Reishi (½ tsp): Reishi helps us adapt and handle stress better. It is calming to the nervous system, and when used long term, it really helps us to “not sweat the small stuff.”

 

123rf.com/Bogdan Ionescu

Turkey tail (½ tsp): Turkey tail works in an interesting way by actually being a stressor. Herbalist Renee Davis describes it as a lesson in anti-fragility. In other words, it provides a little shock to the system, therefore stimulating an immune response. It is the most studied medicinal mushroom, and widely used in cancer treatments in Asia. Medicinal mushroom expert Paul Stamets credits turkey tail in aiding his mother’s fight against breast cancer.

123rf.com/vainillaychile

 Maca root (1 tsp): Maca root has a wonderful sweet aroma and adds a sweet quality to beverages. It is best known for its adaptogenic qualities. Adaptogens help the body cope with stress. Maca nourishes and stimulates the adrenal glands, therefore helping to balance out hormones. It is the perfect addition to meals around the stressful holiday season. It boosts energy and supports the immune system. Purchase a high-quality product that contains only organic maca root.

23rf.com/koosen

Astragalus (½ tsp): Astragalus root is another adaptogen that helps the body cope with stress. It is also an immunomodulator, which means it benefits the immune system, making it stronger. Regular use of astragalus can help prevent colds and flu. Astragalus is also recommended for adrenal and chronic fatigue. In a study, researchers concluded that it increases oxygen uptake to the body, therefore helping with fatigue. It should be purchased in powder form to add to beverages.

123rf.com/mirzamlk

 

Ashwagandha (½ tsp): This Ayurvedic herb is both an adaptogen and an immunomodulator. Additionally, it has memory-enhancing properties, helps with fatigue, and decreases anxiety. When there is a feeling of burnout, it really helps to restore strength and vitality.

123rf.com/Olga Popova

 

Turmeric (¼ tsp): Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This is mainly due to a compound called curcumin. Curcumin is best absorbed when the compound piperine is present. A small pinch of black pepper provides piperine, and this combo is especially good in the southwestern spice hot chocolate.

 

Cacao nibs (¼ tsp): Cacao nibs have a beautiful velvetiness to them. A sprinkle on top of the froth makes this drink even more special while adding more of the raw cacao benefits. 

Enjoy this beverage during the summer as well. Chill overnight and blend a second time for the froth factor, before serving. Add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream for extra indulgence.

Ayshica Andrews is a Realtor, blogger, gardening consultant, and “food is medicine enthusiast.” For more information, email her at [email protected] or visit GardeningInTheDesert.com. Also follow her on social media (Facebook: Gardening in the Desert and Instagram: @SolitaryBeeGardens).

 





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