We just had our first snow of the season. It was actually just a light dusting, but when you are a kid it’s still a pretty big deal. We have this tradition, the morning of the first snow the kids bundle up and run outside to play and make snow angels. After they have got good and cold they come inside to a mug of hot cocoa waiting for them on the kitchen table. It doesn’t matter to the kids if it is just a light dusting, this is the tradition and they take it very seriously.
Years ago I would have gave them some store bought powdered hot cocoa mix, but I know better now. Just look at the ingredients in some of these popular powdered hot cocoa mixes:
Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix, Milk Chocolate-
sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, carrageenan, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavor.
Nestle Hot Cocoa Mix, Rich Chocolate Flavor-
sugar, corn syrup solids, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel and hydrogenated soybean), dairy product solids (from milk), cocoa processed with alkali, and less than 2% of salt, cellulose gum, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, sodium citrate, sodium aluminosilicate, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, artificial flavors, sucralose.
These mixes are filled with sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, among many other questionable ingredients. Corn syrup has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure. High fructose corn syrup has also been linked to behavioral problems in children. A study conducted by the University of South Carolina found that the more sugar hyperactive children consumed, the more destructive and restless they became. Also, corn is among the most allergenic foods. An allergic reaction to corn may manifest itself through symptoms of crying, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and crankiness.
If that isn’t bad enough, during the processing of corn syrup it can become contaminated with mercury. Detectable levels of mercury have been found in many samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup. Mercury can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, not something we want for our children, this includes negative effects on memory, language skills, attention and fine motor skills.
And this is just one of the harmful ingredients that is in so many products marketed toward children. I could go into all the dangers of hydrogenated oils, but I will save that for another time.
For now, here is a hot cocoa recipe containing healthy fats to help nourish growing brains instead of harming them.
So, when you and your family feel like cozying up with a mug of hot cocoa on one these cold blustery days try this healthier alternative!
Makes 4 6oz. servings
3 Tbs. coconut oil or grass-fed butter
4Tbs. organic cocoa powder
4Tbs. maple syrup
dash of salt
3 cups whole milk, preferably raw (use coconut or almond milk if dairy free)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Melt coconut oil or butter in small sauce pan.
Add cocoa powder, maple syrup and salt.
Stir over low heat until smooth.
Add milk and vanilla.
Gently heat but do not boil.
Serve and enjoy!