4 Steps to a Healthier Hot Cocoa

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4 Steps to a Healthier Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa from a packet is chock full of empty calories, preservatives and hard to pronounce ingredients you (and your body) may not recognize. But, you can make a sweet-tooth satisfying version with just a few clean pantry staples in mere moments. Here’s how:


The most important part of hot cocoa is the cocoa, of course! You can make hot cocoa with cocoa powder or chopped chocolate. When selecting a cocoa powder, choose an unsweetened version to get the most pure chocolate flavor. If you’re selecting a chopped chocolate, look for dark chocolate with high cocoa percentages to be sure most of your cocoa isn’t sugar or milk solids. Any chocolate labeled with 65% or higher cacao is a great choice. Then, chop up the bars and get ready to swirl the chunks into warm liquid.


The creamiest dreamiest hot chocolates typically are made with whole milk; the fat in the milk makes it creamy. But, you’re not necessarily shafting your cocoa if you choose to make it with water, almond or coconut milk. If you choose to make your cocoa with hot water, there are a few ways to make it creamy without using all the milk. (Coconut whipped cream, anyone?)


Because you’re using an unsweetened cocoa or a less-sweet chocolate, just a little bit of sweetener goes a long way toward making your hot cocoa enjoyable. A little drip of maple syrup, a drizzle of honey or agave or even a teaspoon of turbinado raw sugar makes for a slightly sweet, health-minded cocoa.


Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to spice up your cocoa! Add a sprinkling of cinnamon, or a teaspoon of vanilla powder or a vanilla bean. Use the recipe below to make coconut whipped cream to dab on top or top with a bit of shaved chocolate.

Four-Ingredient Hot Cocoa With Coconut Whipped Cream


For the cocoa

  • 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened milk, alternative milk or water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder or chopped dark chocolate (65% cacao or higher)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) raw sugar, maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla powder
  • Coconut whipped cream for topping (recipe follows)

For the coconut whipped cream

  • 1 (14-ounce or 397 gram) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey or maple syrup


For the cocoa

Warm milk or water in the microwave or in a small pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Once milk is warm, add cocoa powder, chocolate, vanilla powder and sweetener, whisking to combine. Return the milk to the heat and warm until the cocoa is incorporated completely or the chocolate is melted and the mixture has reached your preferred temperature.

Taste and adjust sweetness as needed. Stir, and top with coconut whipped cream, cinnamon or other spices.

For the coconut whipped cream

Refrigerate the canned coconut milk for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Place a metal mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator or freezer 1 hour before making whipped cream.

Open the can of coconut milk, taking care not to shake it. Scoop coconut cream solids into the cold mixing bowl and reserve the remaining liquid for another use.

Beat the coconut cream using an electric mixer with chilled beaters on medium speed; turn to high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form, 78 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat 1 minute more. Taste and add more sugar, if desired.

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 8 ounces of hot chocolate plus 1/6 of coconut whipped cream

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 171; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 7g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 231mg; Carbohydrate: 19g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 15g; Protein: 1g


Lentine is a curious, classically trained chef and former pro athlete. She uses her bicycle, raw life and travel experiences and organic ingredients to inspire athletes and everyone to explore, connect and expand their human experiences through food. She previously worked as a Chef/Recipe Developer/Content Creator and Culinary Director at Skratch Labs – a sports nutrition company dedicated to making real food alternatives to modern “energy foods.” Today, she writes, cooks, speaks and shares ideas for nourishing sport and life with whole, simple, delicious foods.

About the Author

MyFitnessPal’s Recipes
MyFitnessPal’s Recipes

Healthy, delicious and simple: That’s what we’re about at MyFitnessPal! We make our recipes in our own test kitchen or our registered dietitian hand-selects them personally. Look for nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe or log it directly to MyFitnessPal through the “Log-It” button. Check out our entire collection or explore: low-carbhigh-proteinhigh-fibergluten-freedairy-freevegetarianveganlow sodium