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Hot Cocoa Can Be Healthy!

By Donna Stark

Did you know the secret to making your loved ones happy on those cold and dreary winter days is a cup of hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream on top? A cup of hot chocolate is a delicious way to warm hands, delight the senses, and trigger memories of joy, but you need to be careful because it's not always good for your health ... unless you take the time to make it so. Yes, hot chocolate can have some amazing health benefits if you make it the right way, but what exactly is the right way to make it? Take a look at the following suggestions on how you can make your hot cocoa healthier.

Selecting Your Base

Are you still making hot chocolate with water and a packet of chocolate-flavored sugar? If you are, it's time to level up, which means it's time to change the base of this beverage from water to milk. There are a lot of options to choose from, so base your selection on how creamy you like your drink. From almond to reduced-fat to whole milk, you will be sure to find exactly what you like, and you can start looking forward to all the extra nutrients (calcium, protein, and vitamins) you receive by choosing something other than water.

Using Real Cocoa

You've heard all the news about chocolate being good for you, right? Well, it's true, but it's not true about those sugary packets you are currently making your hot chocolate with. Instead, it's talking about real, all-natural cocoa powder. Although cocoa is bitter (don't worry, we'll get to that later), it is packed with antioxidants. And antioxidants provide a ton of health benefits. If you can't find real cocoa powder near the hot chocolate in the store, check the baking aisle!

Sweetening Your Beverage

As stated above, real cocoa powder will be bitter, so you will have to sweeten it a bit. If you don't, you may not get as many smiles as you would like from your loved ones. The key to keeping this drink healthy, though, is to use a light hand while adding the sweetener of your choice. Here are some excellent suggestions to try.

  • Sugar (in moderation)
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Stevia
  • Vanilla extract

Another way to enhance the flavor of your hot cocoa is to add spices and whipped cream. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger all pair well with cocoa, and whipped cream is the cherry on top. But try to make your own whipped cream. It's a lot healthier to do so.

Smiles for Everyone

Yes, hot cocoa will bring smiles to everyone, but you will be smiling the most knowing how healthy you were able to make it.  So go ahead and pull out all the ingredients. It's going to be a cold week ahead.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Eagan, Minn.

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