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Ditch the Packet with This 4-Ingredient REAL Hot Chocolate!

The holidays are here and winter is coming soon...

have you started craving a warm cozy cup of hot cocoa?

Whether it was your own childhood or a special treat for your kids, how many of us have fond memories of coming inside after hours of playing in the snow and warming up to a steaming mug of hot chocolate?  With marshmallows of course!


The good news?

On our REAL food journeys, hot chocolate can actually be good for us!  In our Health by Chocolate and Is There a Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao? coaching tips, we discussed the reasons why cacao is so healthy.  It contains even more beneficial antioxidants than red wine and tea…plus, even larger amounts of antioxidants are released when the chocolate is heated!


But then, of course, there's the bad news...

Unfortunately, most of the typical hot chocolate Americans consume does not provide these health benefits.  You know, those instant packets, which simply require mixing with hot water.  You probably saw this coming...those packets have a whole lot of processing going on!

Don't let the front of the box fool you -- this one says:

"Natural Antioxidants Are Found in Cocoa,"

but maybe it should really say:

"Natural antioxidants are found in cocoa, but not in this box!  Fooled ya!  We have removed most of those benefits by processing the cocoa with alkali."


A packet of Nestle hot chocolate includes:






A lot of added sugar, hydrogenated oil (trans-fat), sucralose (an unsafe artificial sweetener that the CSPI, Center for Science in the Public Interest, advises to avoid) and preservatives.  Plus, you can see the otherwise healthy cocoa is processed with alkali, which dramatically reduces the nutritional content (by as much as 90%).


Don’t panic!

The best news is it is super-easy to make a REAL food version of hot chocolate - or a delicious latte - at home!





Simple Homemade Hot Chocolate

(makes 2 small 4.5 oz servings or 1 large 9 oz serving)


1 - 2 Tbsp raw cacao (or cocoa) powder (look for cocoa that has not been processed with alkali)

1 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey, sugar or sugar substitute)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk of your choice (divided)



  1. Add the cacao (or cocoa powder), pure maple syrup (or honey, sugar, or sugar substitute), vanilla and 2 Tbsp of the milk to a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until combined.  (Adding this small amount of milk first will help the mixture dissolve well.)
  2. Then add the rest of the milk and whisk again until completely combined and heated to desired temperature.
  3. Ladle into cups and serve warm!

You can add some raw cacao nibs for an added chocolate texture and crunch!  (This is a great substitute idea for those processed marshmallows!)




Mint Chocolate:  Substitute the vanilla for 1/8 tsp of peppermint extract

Mexican Hot Cocoa:  add 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

Mocha:  add 1 tsp of "espresso powder" or substitute some of the milk for coffee


We all know a great topping for hot chocolate is whipped cream!  There are several ways to make whipped cream…using REAL cream is our favorite!  See our coaching tip for more ideas!


Ask Zonya:

Is this much sugar ok?  Isn't there a natural sugar replacer like Stevia I can use?  Especially for a person with diabetes or metabolic syndrome?

Glad you asked!  It is now advised (by the American Heart Association) that all women keep their intake of sugar to 6 tsp or less per day, and men to 9 teaspoons or less per day, (with kids somewhere in between).  This contains 1.5 teaspoons per (4.5 oz) serving, less than what you would receive from many commercial packets.  So, this much really is ok, even for a person with diabetes!  However, if you have already spent those teaspoons somewhere else, or feel better at zero, then a quite natural sugar-free alternative is to use an equal amount of Stevia or Erythritol (Swerve is a common brand) or Erythritol/Stevia blend called Truvia, in which you would use just 1 Tablespoon in this recipe.  And it really is delicious...and safe!

Try it!

We think you will love the homemade version and feel better about knowing exactly what is in this warm, comforting tasty treat!  We would love to hear from you -- have you already mastered making hot chocolate using REAL ingredients?  Please share with us!


REAL food doesn't have ingredients, REAL food is ingredients!


Leave A Comment

12 Responses to Ditch the Packet with This 4-Ingredient REAL Hot Chocolate!

  1. I used to put a packet of hot chocolate in my coffee instead of creamer and sugar. Since the packet is concentrated, it worked.

    Will this recipe work for something like that? Do I replace the milk with coffee? Any advise?

    • Thank you for asking! You could do a couple of things — yes, you could replace some of the milk with your coffee, or you can make a batch of the hot cocoa and use that as your coffee creamer. We just last night made a batch and let it cool and put in the refrigerator to drink as chocolate milk, but I will try it as coffee creamer too! Let us know if you try it before we do! Thank you!

  2. Just made myself a delicious cup of hot cocoa! It took a few extra minutes to figure out how I like it. Definitely a keeper! No more packets for this girl!

  3. I used to love making homemade hot cocoa to give as gives and they add the milk or water. I love making it myself with REAL ingredients. it is so easy.

  4. I’ve been using this recipe for awhile now, since it’s gotten chilly. I knew this was better for me, but hadn’t realized all of the unhealthy ingredients I was avoiding! Thanks for the article!

  5. Wow, thanks ladies for all the great information. I had no idea that those easy to use packets were full of soooo many chemicals. True food is always sooo much better!!!

  6. I just had a delicious cup of hot cocoa! I love this recipe and love that it’s so easy to make. I didn’t realize there wasn’t a lot of caffeine in unsweetened cocoa powder, but now that I know, this has become a favorite of mine in the evening. Takes care of the sweet tooth and is comforting and warm on these cold nights. No more packets for me!

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