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The Best Hot Chocolate Nutrition Stripped
Eat Well Feb. 20. 2018

The Best Hot Chocolate

Feb. 20. 2018
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN


The best hot chocolate? It looks a little something like this: cozy, delicious, dairy-free and full of health benefits.

When you typically think about hot chocolate, “healthy” and “dairy-free” probably aren’t the first words to come to mind. Today’s recipe is proof that it’s possible — without sacrificing taste or being any less satisfying.

The comforting blend of cocoa, almond milk, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla and coconut oil provide the velvety texture and warming flavors that you’d expect from only the best hot chocolate.  Since the recipe is sans dairy, and instead, rich in healthy fats, the result doesn’t weigh you down. Instead, it can satisfy your sweet tooth craving, boost your mood, and give you healthy fats. These, in turn, help you feel fuller longer and may help you experience sharper cognitive functioning. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of healthy cholesterol in your body, which decreases your risk for heart problems.

This cozy beverage is perfect for morning and afternoon alike since it’s quick to make and fit into your schedule — it takes just a few minutes to make.

Did I mention that this recipe is really affordable? It’s simple to pull together at a drop of a hat when the craving hits. It uses all staples you may already have in your pantry. I have a feeling I’ll be making a batch or two in the future until warmer temperatures hit. It’s a great alternative to coffee or matcha in the morning and provides a nice little boost mid-afternoon too.

If you try this recipe, I want to see your pics! You can submit your photos directly to this blog post — scroll to the comment section and upload away! Connect with us on Instagram, too, by tagging @NutritionStripped with #NutritionStripped.

xx McKel



Chocolate is good for you — when it’s unprocessed cacao powders, raw chocolates, and dark chocolates with no added preservatives, colorings, dairy, and do not come in a candy shell.

The active compound in cacao, aka chocolate, is theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid which dilates your blood vessels to allow more blood flow and oxygen. It’s also a diuretic, which increases urination to rid the body of excess fluids. Lastly, theobromine is a heart stimulant. You can see how these benefits just mentioned can have a positive effect on reducing high blood pressure, (1) heart health, (2) cholesterol-lowering benefits, (3) PMS, and possible mental focus/acuity. (4)

Mood Boost:

Chocolate contains bioflavonoids such as penylethylamine (PEA, a dopamine copycat), anandamide (“chemical bliss”), and serotonin among other brain chemicals which act to increase dopamine, the hormone that helps control our brains reward/pleasure centers. It also increases serotonin, (5) the hormone that stabilizes mood, regulates appetite and gives focus/energy, which helps control our cravings and improve our moods.

Healthy Fats:

You’ll enjoy a nice dose of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oils thanks to organic coconut oil and raw almond butter. Fats provide our body with a layer of protection, insulating our organs and keeping our core body temperature normal. They also help us digest fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K to keep our brains, cells, hormones, tissues, hair, skin, and nails healthy, and provide the structural component to many cell membranes which are essential for cellular development.


Though this recipe includes a small amount of maple syrup, it still packs health benefits. Maple syrup was discovered to have powerful antioxidant polyphenols (6) which research has shown to fight premature signs of aging. (7)

Optimizer Option:

This beverage is a great time to lean on adaptogens — cocoa is one of them! — for their all-natural stress relief and overall health benefits.

As we share in this Society post, cocoa is a powerful adaptogen that’s been studied to potentially have cardiovascular benefits as it’s linked to better blood flow and insulin sensitivity. Studies have also shown it to help alleviate signs of stress.

For an optimizer, consider adding 1/2 or 1 tablespoon of Maca powder, another adaptogen that has shown signs of balancing hormones, and acting as an aphrodisiac, boosting stamina, reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, adding physical strength, endurance, and boosting mental focus/clarity. You can learn more about Maca in the Food Index, and find out additional information on serving sizes here.

The Recipe

Serves 1



1 1/2 cups almond milk (or coconut milk)

1-2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon organic coconut oil

2 tablespoons of raw almond butter

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt to taste

1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder


Step 1

In a milk frother, add all ingredients into the frother container and put the setting on steam/hot to blend together. If you don’t have a milk frother, use a Vitamix or high-speed blender until thick and smooth. Then pour into a small pot and gently heat until warm.



  1. Grassi, D., Desideri, G., Necozione, S., Lippi, C., Casale, R., Properzi, G., . . . Ferri, C. (2008, September). Blood pressure is reduced and insulin sensitivity increased in glucose-intolerant, hypertensive subjects after 15 days of consuming high-polyphenol dark chocolate.
  2. Eating chocolate cuts risk of heart disease. (2011, August 30).
  3. Allen, R. R., Carson, L., Kwik-Uribe, C., Evans, E. M., & Erdman, J. R. (2008, April). Daily consumption of a dark chocolate containing flavanols and added sterol esters affects cardiovascular risk factors in a normotensive population with elevated cholesterol.
  4. Nurk, E., Refsum, H., Drevon, C. A., Tell, G. S., Nygaard, H. A., Engedal, K., & Smith, A. D. (2008, December 03). Intake of Flavonoid-Rich Wine, Tea, and Chocolate by Elderly Men and Women Is Associated with Better Cognitive Test Performance | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic.
  5. Lam, D. D., Garfield, A. S., Marston, O. J., Shaw, J., & Heisler, L. K. (2010, November). Brain serotonin system in the coordination of food intake and body weight.
  6. Abou-Zaid, M., Nozzolillo, C., Tonon, A., Coppens, M., & Lombardo, D. (2018, February 19). Canadian Forest Service Publications.
  7. Pandey, K. B., & Rizvi, S. I. (2009). Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease.


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