Tis the season for sweets! We all know how difficult it can be to walk by the desert table at those Christmas get-togethers and not get at least a little taste of everything! I truly believe that's why we pack on the pounds. It isn't the real food that gets us, but rather those delightfully sugary deserts!
But there is hope for us yet! Before you get to the deserts, have a cup of hot cocoa! Drink it when you're baking, too. Believe it or not, cocoa is the one sweet you should not pass up this Christmas!
The latin name for cocoa means "food of the gods." Understandably! Chocolate is so amazing! Ever wonder how it's made? When cacao beans are pressed and 1/2 to 3/4 of the cocoa butter has been removed, the remaining solid is processed into the fine powder that we use to make chocolate. Dutch processed cocoa has been washed with a potassium solution that neutralizes the natural acids in the cocoa. I recommend natural cocoa powder, or cacao powder, which will give you a darker color and richer, fruitier taste anyway. In recipes calling for dutch cocoa, natural cocoa can generally be substituted, but not the other way around.
Even though it tastes sweet, pure cocoa powder is low in caffeine and sugar free, and it's also high in antioxidants! So you can skip the guilt! On a diet? 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder has just 20 calories, 1 gram of fat, and only 2 grams of carbs. The only guilt is in the milk, but it's so good for you in moderation! If you prefer milk alternatives, I'm betting almond milk would make delicious hot cocoa, although I haven't actually tried it.
When mixed with whole milk (we prefer raw milk, which still has the cream!) and simmered on the stove-top, this delicious treat will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you feeling full. Thus, the other sweets won't be so tempting! Of course, we'll still have to try a few things on the desert table (like the homemade butter mints), but maybe we'll show a little more control!
Do skip the packets of instant cocoa. They include sugar and dry milk and additives and often chocolate flavor. Even organic hot cocoa mix will typically include sugar and dry milk.
Instead, look for organic fair trade cacoa powder. 1 teaspoon per cup of warm whole milk makes a great cup of cocoa! There are several different brands available on Amazon.com, including the one I use, Dagoba.
Do you indulge in hot cocoa during the winter? Will you feel a little less guilty about it this year?