Healthy hot chocolate

…and this is what happened

Cold is in season, and nothing beats back the chill like two hands wrapped around a mug brimming with sweet hot chocolate.

Our intrepid cooks at Pollenation saw this as a golden opportunity to make the impossible – a healthy, hearty hot chocolate that would make winter a delight.

The first step was setting down some ground rules on what constitutes ‘healthy’.

Healthy hot chocolate rules

To reach the pinnacle of hot choc health, we wanted to make sure that we weren’t drowning good sources of nutrients in processed or unnatural ingredients. Complying was as simple as following this checklist:

  • Every ingredient must have a demonstrable health benefit
    Scientifically backed, baby! Without a credible source referencing how an ingredient boosts or supports health, it had no place in our brew.
  • As little processed sugar as possible
    Easily the hardest to follow, as even the darkest chocolates had processed sugar. We’d allow trace amounts if attempts were made to keep it as low as possible.
    Honey was allowed as an exception (again, in small amounts).
  • Majority natural ingredients

While not as hard as keeping processed sugar to a minimum, trying to find ingredients without preservatives, colourings and numbered acids was quite tricky. Again, we asked our participants to try their best to keep them out!

The results

Never has the phrase ‘bittersweet disaster’ been so literal.

The hot chocolate, having had hundreds of years to develop into various states of today’s standards of perfection, was not to be replicated in a single afternoon.

What worked

Surprisingly, there are a tonne of ingredients you can use to make a healthy hot chocolate:

Cacao, cocoa, and dark chocolate
Our core ingredients, and ones that have some amazing health benefits! Chocolate and its raw materials boast higher levels of antioxidants that those found in tea and wine. Plus, they have anti-inflammatory properties which can contribute to good heart health.

LSA
A classic combo of linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds, crushed and blended into a powder, gave our hot chocolate a slightly nutty edge, as well as a huge boost of omega 3!

Honey
Bees makes the best sweets, and it’s a far better alternative to sugar. Honey increases levels of good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol, can help manage some aspects of diabetes, and may have a positive impact on blood pressure.

Unsweetened almond milk
With lower calories, a high carb/protein ratio, and stacks of vitamin E, unsweetened almond milk served as the best possible substitute for cow’s milk. It added a creaminess to the mix, and really brought home the nutty flavour introduced by the LSA.

What didn’t work

Overall, there were a few…criticisms…with the state of our hot chocolate.

  • The texture – even with the addition of the unsweetened almost milk, we couldn’t replicate the thickness of an honest-to-goodness hot chocolate.
  • The bitterness – testers who liked a proper dark chocolate enjoyed the dark bite of the chocolate mixed with the saving sweetness of the honey. Those raised on chocolate bars thought they were drinking bark water.
  • The nuttiness – again, each to their taste, but for some the nut mixtures detracted too much from the essence of the drink – the chocolate itself.

Making your own healthy hot chocolate

If you’re going to indulge in the best mix of beverage and dessert this winter, take our learnings and see if you can improve on them! Want to get the classic experience but feel less guilty? No worries – just substitute some of the ingredients for healthier ones and enjoy!

All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. Pollenation endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by Pollenation Health Cover policies.

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