Thursday, January 5, 2012

Three Ways to Healthify (And Justify) Your Hot Chocolate

Generally speaking, I don't need me a cup of cho.

But lately it's been cold here, and at night when I'm tired and wishing to relax, wrapping my hands around a hot mug of something chocolate steamy... Well, it helps me understand people's coffee addictions a little better. It was more than just the satisfaction of a sweet craving. It was kind of soul-satisfying: relaxing, warm, comforting.

What it wasn't was a really healthy choice (because I wasn't about to whip up something with frozen berries and spinach in it). Oh, sure, there could have been worse choices made (I'm looking at you 16 oz Starbucks caramel hot chocolate. Or you, box of truffles left over from Christmas.) My hot cocoa at least contained a bit of calcium and some much-loved vitamin D and let's not forget all those, um, antioxidants from the chocolate. Who am I kidding? This is, like, health food. I think I'll have another.

And yet. And yet, it would make me feel a little better to give my cold weather indulgence a bit more of a golden halo. Because self deception can never be too thorough.

1. Add 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree. One tablespoon doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it actually packs a fairly decent nutritional punch. Just 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree accounts for 35% of your daily Vitamin A needs. Whisk it in well and you won't notice it, until perhaps the last gulp. Be warned that the last gulp might be a bit, er, pulpier than normal (depending on your whisking skills and all, so whisk it well).

2. Add 1 tsp coconut oil. I know it seems slightly counter-intuitive to add oil to your chocolate to make it healthier, but the coconut lovers have lots to say about how healthy it is. According to them (and who am I to disagree with science), it increases immune function, fighting viruses and bacteria and lots of other good stuff too. Also, it tastes wicked good.

3. Add 1 tsp kefir. Add it after you've warmed your hot chocolate so you don't cook out the probiotics in the kefir. This is good for your intestinal health and adds a wee bit of protein and calcium). Which you'll be needing of course with your new unhealthy, but thoroughly justified habit.

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