We’re lucky to have had some really nice weather recently, but as the colder nights begin to arrive, we’ve started to think about our favourite autumn/winter drink: hot chocolate. In our opinion, the scrummiest kind is the thick, creamy type, piled high with delicious whipped cream and sprinkled with pink & white marshmallows. Unfortunately, this kind of hot chocolate isn’t so forgiving on our waistbands… especially after we’ve made the most of 50% off at our favourite restaurants this month thanks to the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme.
Luckily for us, the team at Hotel Chocolat have been looking into how you can make your hot chocolate healthier! Did you know that there is actually evidence to suggest that cocoa powder can aid weight loss? It does this by suppressing your appetite and keeping you fuller for longer. And not only that, cocoa is proven to have a positive impact on your mood! However, these health benefits only apply to pure cocoa powder, not the kind we find in instant hot chocolates which is mixed with sugar and preservatives. So it’s best to stick to one that is high on the cocoa percentage. Hotel Chocolat actually use gosammer-fine flakes of cocoa in their hot chocolate in order to keep the cocoa content as high as possible!
Typically, we all make our hot chocolates with milk or cream, lots of sugar and then we add even more sugar to the top with cream and marshmallows. Well, unfortunately, making it this way is never going to be healthy. So in order to make our hot chocolates less calorific, we need to look into the ingredients we make it with…
The powder: say goodbye to those instant hot chocolates piled high with sugar and buy cocoa powder, especially one with a high cocoa percentage. There’s plenty to choose from at Hotel Chocolat so you’re bound to find something you love.
The liquid: you could swap milk for water, creating the lowest calorie option. This is the one to go for if you want to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa every day. However, you will have to compromise on the thickness of your drink.
Milk actually has lots of health benefits too. It’s full of vitamins and nutrients, is great for your bones and studies have shown a link between dairy consumption and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. But milk is quite calorific, so it’s best not to drink too much to avoid weight gain. To get the best of both worlds, try to swap your full fat milk for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.
You could also consider dairy-free alternatives like oat milk or almond milk. Oat milk is creamy and contains soluble fibres which help to slow digestion and keep you fuller for longer. It can also help to stabilise blood sugars and reduce cholesterol. Almond milk is great for those on a low carb diet and is a great source of Vitamin E. However, keep any eye out for those sweetened cartons as it can contain added sugar. Speaking of sugar…
The sugar: Stevia is a sugar-free, calorie-free sweetener, made from the stevia plant which means it is completely natural. However, some people have reported a strong after-taste to this sweetener, so it may not be the perfect choice for you.
Alternatively, honey is another fantastic natural product which can replace sugar in your hot chocolate. Honey also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Just make sure that you look for honey without additives to ensure you keep your hot chocolate healthy.
Coconut sugar could also be an alternative, with many people preferring it as it is less processed than regular sugar. It also has traces of minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Coconut sugar is high in calories though, so it should be used sparingly.
The important thing to remember is “all things in moderation”. It is absolutely fine to treat yourself every now and again to a truly indulgent hot chocolate. With so many fantastic flavours available at Hotel Chocolat, how could you resist? However, you can also make these easy changes for healthier hot chocolates when you want to drink them more regularly. Also, did you know, Hotel Chocolat also serves delicious hot chocolates in store. That means you can really indulge with zero effort – enjoy!