It’s not stopped raining here in Cottage Grove, Oregon for days! It’s the kind of weather where I like to curl up under a warm blanket with either a good book or a good movie and a steaming cup of cocoa. It doesn’t have to be fancy with a lot of whipped cream, but I like it frothy which I can accomplish with my high-powered Vitamix blender!
The recipe I like tastes indulgent, but it ranks pretty healthy because I use unsweetened organic cocoa powder and no sugar! I recently read an article that discussed whether natural sweeteners like “honey,” “agave,” and “pure maple syrup” are healthful alternatives to sugar. The article reminded me how our bodies react to added sugars that come in many forms other than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup!
For quite sometime, I’d already given up traditional processed table sugar, honey and even agave BUT more recently I’d started using more pure maple syrup in some of my recipes because it is convenient to use, and I honestly thought it was a healthy alternative.
However, pure maple syrup still adds extra calories, is low-nutrient; and as I discovered, it was affecting my arthritis inflammation! The past few months I couldn’t figure out why my joints were starting to feel achy again. I’ve been feeling joint inflammation pain in my low-back, hips and ankles. I’ve been experiencing a lot of stiffness. The nagging pain plus stiffness was leading me to feel tired, irritable, and depressed! The article explained that just like pure sugar, sweeteners like coconut sugar, honey, agave, and maple syrup — which are marketed as “natural” and “healthier alternatives” to processed sugar — still elevate blood glucose (sucrose), that can lead to disease-causing effects in the body! Maple syrup contains about 90% sucrose, so it is very similar to regular white sugar! And here I thought I was making a healthier sweetener choice!
I’m so glad I listened to my body! I’m back on track and using true natural sweeteners: whole fruits (bananas, berries, applesauce, and dates) which contain fiber to regulate the entry of glucose into the bloodstream and fructose to the liver. If I use something else, it’s only a small amount to a large batch that contains a very high fiber ingredient. But through experimentation, I’ve come to realize I can switch it out with homemade date syrup and obtain the same end result.
So back to that cup of hot cocoa! It’s simple, vegan, sugarless, and wholesome (only about 200 calories depending on what type of milk you use) for a BIG frothy cup of joy!
Cook Time ~ 2 to 3 minutes
Serves ~ 1
- organic cocoa powder; 2 teaspoons
- organic, non-gmo soy or almond milk of choice; 1¼ cup
- organic Medjool dates; 2, pitted (softened in warm water)
- organic pure vanilla extract; ½ teaspoon
- cinnamon; sprinkle
Put all ingredients in a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix) and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour into sauce pan. Place on stove, and while stirring, heat slowly on low for another minute or so.
Variations: Add ¼ teaspoon mint for that “holiday peppermint” flavor. When serving to guests at a holiday party, a “small peppermint stick” or “cinnamon stick” adds a festive look (and does not have to be eaten). On occasion, for a bit of kick, I’ve added a “very small pinch” of cayenne pepper to the basic recipe.