This week, I started making hot cocoa. It’s actually a little warmer than it ought to be for hot cocoa, but it was hard to resist all those little faces, begging me for a treat. I’ve been working on a number of my recipes, trying to reduce the sugar content and work in whole food forms of the refined ingredients. This isn’t just about cavities, it’s also about tummies, for my children can be incredibly sensitive to too much sugar and white flour, and I don’t want us to head into the holidays in a weakened state.
Not the same as ours, but this one looks nice, too!
A couple years ago, someone gave us a hot chocolate maker by Mr. Coffee. I wasn’t sure it’d be that great but it ended up amazing us. I like to make our hot chocolate from scratch–no soy in my drinks, please! But cooking it on the stove usually makes a giant mess, and if I ignore it, I burn it or don’t mix it up very well.
This little machine changed all of that.
All you do it put in all of your ingredients and turn it on. Mine even has a little timer on it, so it even turns itself off when it is done. It mixes up perfectly, every single time.
But back to the sugar issue.
I’ve been experimenting with my sugar-free sweeteners (stevia leaf powder and xylitol). I have mixed emotions about using them, because they are both highly refined (anyone ever wonder exactly how a pretty green stevia leaf becomes a powdery white substance?), and I am one to err on the side of whole foods.
A single teaspoon of sucanat contains 4 grams of sugar. That means there’s 16 grams of sugar in a single 8-ounce cup of hot cocoa. I’m just not willing to do that to my children, for a variety of reasons.
I, personally, think that stevia has an aftertaste. I have heard that this is not true of stevia extract, something I haven’t bought yet. For now, I’m using the white powder that someone gave me. Our xylitol is something I keep on hand to ease sore throats; using it in food like this is a first for me, but it’s working well.
In order to make enough hot chocolate for four kids and myself, I make the full 32-ounces that the machine will hold. I use the recipe on the side of the cocoa powder, but adjust the sugar content to match the appropriate measurements for the sweeteners. Here is my recipe:
If you are unfamiliar with xylitol, I highly suggest you test it on your family in small amounts before serving it. Some folks find they cannot digest it, at least not without discomfort! Xylitol is, according to my reading (which may or may not be completely accurate–I admit!) anti-microbial in nature. So while sugar–especially fructose–feeds viruses, fungi, bacteria, and even cancer cells, xylitol tends to do the opposite. So far, so good.
4 cups raw pastured whole milk (but regular storebought milk would work fine, if you can digest it)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tb. xylitol
3 scoops stevia*
*Stevia powder tends to come with its own scoop. The scoop is tiny, but equal in “power” to a teaspoon of sugar, so this is equivalent to a single tablespoon of sugar.
My real interest in xylitol lies in its boost to dental health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry supports the use of xylitol-containing products (such as xylitol-sweetened gum) to children rather than sugar.
In general, I like my children to consume more savory foods because I think that a sweet tooth is best tamed through general moderation of sweet consumption. At least with my own children, it seems that the more sweets I offer them, the more they desire. However, we all know that the holidays, being a time of celebration, are known for sugar-consumption.
This hot cocoa is, hopefully, starting us off on the right foot, while still allowing us to enjoy sharing a traditional celebratory drink together.