It’s Cocoa Season!

 

Looks like winter is finally hitting us here in the Great North! Oh, joy, oh bliss, I’ve been freezing my butt off for the past week.

Always an optimist – on a positive note – the colder weather signals COCOA SEASON!

Love my cup of heart healthy hot cocoa. Yes, depending on the ingredients, cocoa can be the perfect winter drink for your heart and your soul.

Having cocoa made with 2 cups (500 mL) skim milk and 5 tbsp (75 mL) high antioxidant cocoa powder (or natural – see the picture below) daily is a useful tool against the risk factors of coronary heart disease so says a report in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases published in 2012.

Although the number of participants was small (42 adults) after the end of the 4 week study the researchers found that the daily drink of skim milk plus cocoa was associated with a 5 percent increase in HDL cholesterol levels, compared to only milk and a 14 percent reduction in oxidized LDL cholesterol levels, compared to milk only. In English – that large cup of cocoa raised the good HDL cholesterol and lowered the evil LDL cholesterol.

That cup of cocoa can also:

  • decrease insulin resistance
  • improve blood pressure
  • help blood vessels relax, which allows better blood flow

Not bad for a treat! I’m all about “having your cake and eating it too”! So here’s my recipe from Healthy Starts Here! for a cup of heart health!

My recipe only calls for 1 cup (250 mL) of milk and 2 tbsp (30 mL) which is a little less than half of what the researchers used in their study.

Old-Fashioned Hot Cocoa  (Fall/Winter & Kid Friendly) {excerpt from Healthy Starts Here!}

One of my pet peeves is how cocoa and hot chocolate get bantered around in the same sentence, as if they were one and the same.

No, no, no, no, no.

Hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate and cocoa is made from, wait for it, cocoa powder.

Natural cocoa powder is higher in flavanols (those powerful antioxidants that can help reduce your blood pressure) than regular cocoa powder. Read your labels. You want a product that says natural right on the front of the package.

My recipe isn’t overly sweet! Give it a taste and you may add a little more sweetener if you need to!

 

The only two brands of NATURAL cocoa powder I have found in Canada.

1 cup (250 mL) skim milk or fortified organic soy beverage, divided

2 tbsp (30 mL) natural cocoa powder – click here for more info

2 tbsp (30 mL) Agave, honey, or sweetener of your choice – see below for more info

 

Agave, honey or the sweetener of your choice.

 

  1. In a glass measuring cup or a small bowl, using a cocoa whisk, make a thin paste of the cocoa powder and the Agave, honey or sweetener of your choice with a little bit of the milk.

Whisking up the cocoa powder, Agave, and some skim milk with a mini whisk or a cocoa whisk.

  1. Heat the rest of the milk on top of the stove, on medium, or in the microwave, on low until steamy.

Heating up the milk.

  1. Whisk in the cocoa paste using a cocoa whisk, until there aren’t any lumps.

Whisk the paste into the milk. No lumps, please!

  1. Either continue heating over the stove or in the microwave until hot. Pour and serve.

A cup of heart healthy cocoa that tastes too good to be good for you!

 

Makes I cup (250 mL) One serving = I cup (250 mL)

One serving with Agave contains: 250 Calories, 1 g Total Fat, 0.6 g Sat Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 127 mg Sodium, 51 g Carbs, 2 g Fibre, 45 g Sugar, 11 g Protein

Diabetes Food Choice Values Per Serving: 3 ½ Carbohydrates, ½ Meat and Alternatives

Why Agave?

Agave is made from the same plant that is responsible for that alcoholic truth serum – tequila.

Agave has a couple of interesting characteristics – it is sweeter than honey or white granulated sugar, so you use less, and it has a lower glycemic index (GI) than regular sugar.

It does cost more than regular sugar which is why I use it mostly when I make hot cocoa. If you can’t find Agave, then go with honey or whatever sweetener that you normally use. This drink is really all about the power of natural cocoa.

To reduce the total amount of carbs to 42 g and the sugars to 31 g, use unsweetened organic soy beverage. My brand of choice is Canadian grown and produced Nautr-a.

People living with diabetes feel free to use Splenda instead of Agave or honey.

Posted in Chocolate - of course!, Healthy Starts Here!
One comment on “It’s Cocoa Season!
  1. Carol says:

    Thanks for explaining about “natural” cocoa – I’ve never noticed that before. Does that mean the other cocoas are “Dutch process” even if the label doesn’t say?

    Cocoa is my favourite morning beverage. Thanks, too, for sharing how healthy it is.

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