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Recently, my kids asked for hot cocoa - one of their favorite winter treats. We were at Walmart, and sticking to my rule of reading all food labels, I picked up their favorite brand and read the ingredients list. I stopped reading at the second ingredient: corn syrup. Then I read every other hot cocoa label on the shelf. All of them contained corn syrup, plus a host of other icky ingredients. Sigh.
(Wondering why I don't want my family consuming corn syrup? The short answer is that high fructose corn syrup is one of the most common and most unhealthy ingredients found in processed food. It is linked to diabetes and a host of other health problems...and now it can be listed simply as "corn sugar." In addition, corn products are almost always genetically modified (GMO). I am not comfortable feeding GMOs to my family; you can read about some of my reasons here.)
When I got home, I got on Facebook and asked my friends if they knew of a brand of hot cocoa that didn't contain corn syrup. Some suggested Ghirardelli's, and one friend touted AhLaska Organic Cocoa Mix. But another friend said, "Why don't you make it from scratch?" I was a little embarrassed, because I'm that annoying person who's always suggesting making everything from scratch - yet it never occurred to me to do DIY hot cocoa.
So I looked at a gazillion from scratch hot cocoa recipes, and finally settled on this one (from Epicurious). Incidentally, you can find recipes for making your own hot cocoa mix, too, but everything I saw was contained processed ingredients (like powdered creamer), so I decided it was better to make each batch fresh, with fresh dairy.
From Scratch Hot Cocoa Recipe
Multiply this recipe as needed for the correct number of servings.
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (found in the baking aisle of grocery stores)
1 - 2 tablespoons cane sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 cup whole milk (or 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup cream)
1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Organic marshmallows (optional)
1. In a saucepan placed over medium-low heat, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Whisk in the remaining milk/cream; whisk occasionally until the mixture is hot.
3. Stir in vanilla.
A Few Notes About the Recipe
* When choosing sugar for
this recipe, I prefer real cane sugar. That's because beet sugar, or
sugar that doesn't mention its source, is usually GMO. Avoid agave,
since it's proven the worst source of sugar you can eat. I also avoid Truvia, which is highly processed and full of questionable stuff. Real, pure, stevia may work for this recipe, but I have not tried it.
* I use sea salt exclusively, because processed salt (any salt other than natural sea salt) is linked to autoimmune disease.
the dairy, I recommend whole milk, since it's less processed than
other types of milk. (It will also make the cocoa creamier.) Ideally, I'd use raw milk, since it isn't processed at all, but it's illegal in
my state. (I need to add dairy goats to the homestead!)
* Check your vanilla extract to be sure it's the real thing, and not full of artificial ingredients.
marshmallows are made from high fructose corn syrup. Look for organic
marshmallows, which are usually made from real cane sugar.
But most of all, enjoy! No matter how hard we try to eat healthy, we live in a fallen world, and our food will never be perfect! Eat the foods God provided through nature, but don't get stressed about every bite (or sip), friends.