By: Liz Jalkiewicz, RDN, LDN, Nutrition Specialist, American Dairy Association North East
While hot chocolate is especially popular during these cold winter months, it can (and should) be enjoyed all year round! There are so many variations and unexpected ways to make hot chocolate that your taste buds will never get bored. And while it may seem like an indulgent treat, you can rest assured that cocoa powder contains powerful antioxidants which research shows may have heart health benefits. Be sure to add real milk to the mix –whether it’s 1%, 2% or whole –and you have yourself a warm, tasty beverage that also has nine essential nutrients like protein, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D and more.
Here are some ways to reimagine hot cocoa this holiday season:
•Prepare a Hot Chocolate Toppings Bar that includes items like crushed up graham crackers, mini marshmallows, dark chocolate chips or shavings, caramel sauce, whipped cream, crushed up candy canes and more! This is a great activity for younger kids to create their own hot chocolate (but older kids and adults will love it too!)
•Hot Cocoa Bombs are all the rage this season. So, go ahead and jump on this trendy bandwagon and make these Peppermint Hot Cocoa Bombs. This recipe is courtesy of Savor Recipes (*These make for great DIY holidays gifts as well!): https://savorrecipes.com/recipe/peppermint-hot-cocoa-bombs/
Play Around With Different Flavor Combinations
- Gingerbread Hot Cocoa -mix in Gingerbread Spice or crushed up gingerbread cookies
- Peppermint Hot Cocoa –mix in crushed up candy canes or use one to stir it up
- Toasted Marshmallow Hot Cocoa –mix in a toasted marshmallow for a campfire feel
- Salted Caramel Pretzel Hot Cocoa –mix in caramel sauce and add a salted pretzel rod to stir it all up
Whichever way you decide to enjoy hot chocolate this holiday season, traditional or trendy, you can feel good knowing that you’re getting a nutrient-rich beverage when you mix it up with real milk –whether it’s 1%, 2% or whole milk. Cheers!