In the dead of winter or just a chilly day, there’s nothing like a cup of hot chocolate to warm you up from the inside. Unfortunately, most hot chocolate is loaded with sugar, fat, and highly processed ingredients, but not this healthy vegan hot chocolate recipe.
It is easy to make a healthy version of hot chocolate at home. Instead of reaching for a highly processed hot chocolate mix, simply follow these steps to make your own healthy hot chocolate recipe made with cacao powder and plant-based milk.
For more warming health drinks try this vegan golden milk recipe, another cozy drink perfect for a cold day - it will surely warm you up.
Cocoa vs Cacao
Cocoa powder and cacao powder are both made from cacao beans but are processed differently. Cocoa powder is processed using high heat and often additives like sugar and dairy. Cacao powder is minimally processed and made from fermented beans. Cacao powder retains more of its nutritional properties and has a stronger flavor (like dark chocolate) than cocoa powder because it is minimally processed and isn't exposed to high temperatures like cocoa powder.
Health Benefits of Cacao
The cacao plant has been cultivated for over 3,000 years and has a long history of being used as both food and medicine. Cacao beans are a great source of antioxidants and essential minerals like iron and magnesium. Cacao has been linked to improving cardiovascular health, reducing blood pressure, and improving insulin sensitivity; it has also been shown to increase serotonin levels in the body, which can help improve mood and increase feelings of happiness.
Ditching Cow's Milk
While there are many health benefits of cacao, there are many pitfalls of cow’s milk and reasons to go dairy-free. Cow’s milk is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, which are all things that you want to avoid if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. The best way to prepare a healthy hot chocolate recipe is to use plant-based milk like coconut milk or oat milk. Coconut milk is full of healthy fats and is known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Oat milk is a great alternative because it can help reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.
You can also use other dairy-free milk alternatives like almond milk, cashew milk, and macadamia nut milk.
Here is what you will need to make healthy hot chocolate made with cacao:
- vegan milk alternative
- coconut cream
- good quality cacao powder
- maca powder
- date paste or maple syrup
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon
See the recipe card for quantities.
Enhance your hot chocolate with the following health-promoting additions.
Reishi - Reishi mushroom powder pairs nicely with cacao and supports the immune system and has anticancer properties.
Maca - Maca powder helps the body adapt to stress, anxiety, and depression and boosts energy.
Cinnamon - Ground cinnamon is a great addition to any hot beverage, as it helps to reduce blood sugar levels and fight off bacteria in the body.
Peppermint - Peppermint is another great add-in, as it helps to calm the stomach.
Ginger - Ginger root powder is another great digestive helper.
Minimally Processed Sweetener - This one is obvious, but you’ll want to avoid adding highly processed sugar to your hot chocolate instead opt for date paste, date sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or agave syrup.
Coconut Whipped Cream - If you want to add a decadent touch to your hot chocolate, coconut whipped cream is a great way to add some extra calories without adding unhealthy fats.
Here is how to make healthy hot chocolate from scratch:
In a small pot on medium heat (or in a milk frother) add the vegan milk and cream.
Add the cacao powder, maca powder, salt, vanilla extract, sweetener, and any other health-promoting additions to the milk and whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.
Simmer the healthy hot chocolate mixture for about five minutes until it has a nice flavor. Adjust the sweetener to your desired taste.
Enjoy warm with a dash of cinnamon atop or coconut whipped cream.
Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 2 cups milk alternative creamy coconut or oat milk
- 2 tbsp cacao powder good quality
- 1-2 tsp maca powder
- 1 tbsp date paste or sweetener of choice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-4 tbsp coconut cream
- ground cinnamon to top
- In a small pot on medium heat (or in a milk frother) add the vegan milk and cream.
- Add the cacao powder, maca powder, salt, vanilla extract, sweetener, and any other health-promoting additions to the milk and whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Simmer the healthy hot chocolate mixture for about five minutes until it has a nice flavor. Adjust the sweetener to your desired taste.
- Enjoy warm with a dash of cinnamon atop or coconut whipped cream.