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

The holidays are here and winter is right around the corner...

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 Chocolate Lovers Rejoice! coaching tip, we discussed the reasons why cacao is so healthy.  It contains even more beneficial antioxidants than red wine and tea…plus, it can help contribute to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol, can help regulate insulin levels, and can even improve your mood!


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 or sugar)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk of your choice (divided)



  1. Add the cacao (or cocoa powder), pure maple syrup (or honey or sugar), 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!)



Get as creative as you want to come up with your own versions!  Just a few ideas include:

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!


Even More Uses...

You could even turn this into a delicious chocolate milk or coffee creamer!  An Eat REAL America member said she used to put a packet of hot chocolate in her coffee instead of creamer or sugar.  She wondered if this would work as a replacement.   We tested it by making a batch of the hot cocoa, and then let it cool and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, we enjoyed it as a small glass of "chocolate milk" with our breakfast.  We also added some to our coffee as a creamer replacement.


Ask Zonya:

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

Glad you asked!  It is advised (by the American Heart Association) that all women keep their intake of "added" sugar to 6 teaspoons 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, and even if you use maple syrup or honey (which is a healthier added sugar) it does still count as "added sugar" and is 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 you could use Stevia (drops or powder).  You might start by substituting half of the amount with Stevia, and follow the package suggestions, typically you will use 1/2 tsp or 4 drops of Stevia to replace a small serving.

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!



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

  1. I have to admit hot chocolate is one of our winter passions, so much so that we had to declare we can only have it when it snows. The bad news is the only snow we’ve had so far was on Halloween!! But we will definitely be trying your recipe when the weatherman cooperates. Merry Christmas, everyone!

    • Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and plenty of snow so you can enjoy this sweet winter passion! Did we just jinx ourselves with Mother Nature?! Ha! Ha! Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for putting out this recipe again this year! Since the last time you posted it, I have discovered vanilla bean powder, which we prefer the taste of (and we ONLY buy one that DOESN’T have sugar added — we found it on Amazon). Now I can make a version of hot chocolate and using your recipe, I can pre-mix a larger “batch” of cacao, vanilla bean powder, and stevia powder using your proportions and keep it in a jar ready to spoon out to make hot chocolate. It’ll be my own “instant” version where I just add milk, making it as convenient at the not-so-healthy packets for a quick cup of hot chocolate.
    Thank you so much for helping us get healthier than we otherwise would be!
    With much appreciation,

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