Looking for a delicious drink that is loaded in health benefits? This Spiced Hot Cocoa recipe is ideal for reducing inflammation and boosting your mood.
Listen, chocolate is never a bad thing… right? There’s something so magically comforting about a think mug of steamy hot chocolate. But over the years, I became less and less impressed with the standard sweet drink and craved something… unique?
If you’ve been to a health-conscious café lately, you’ve probably seen a number of new latte-style offerings, such as turmeric golden milk or versions of cocoa. That’s because these drinks an actually be really helpful in improving health benefits. It’s not just a fad.
When my best friend, Connor, was struggling to get his gut health under control, we began researching ingredients to make what he called a “super mix.” This blend of cacao and traditional spices made immediate changes in his mood, energy levels, and health. We both drink it daily now.
Hot Chocolate to Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is something that can be messing with your body, without you even realizing. Inflammation usually causes swelling as a way to naturally fight and heal infection on the body. However, we can have a lot of inflammation in the body without any injury or infection to heal.
When diet is out of whack, the body isn’t getting enough movement, or we are dealing with a lot of stress, the body responds as if something is wrong, as if we’re ill. Thus, inflammation appears.
Inflammation can become more obvious when we find ourselves struggling with bloating, joint pain, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, and breakouts. You may also experience brain fog.
There’s also growing evidence to support that depression and anxiety may be related to inflammation in the gut that causes inflammation in the brain.
You can fight inflammation through diet, exercise, and doing anything to reduce your stress, such as yoga or meditation.
My Spiced Hot Cocoa is a blend of ingredient specifically selected to reduce inflammation.
Note, the spelling of “cacao” vs “cocoa.” It can make all the difference from a simple hot chocolate to one that is packed with the added benefits of raw cacao. Cocoa powder goes through a chemical processing that destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols that make it so beneficial. Look for “raw cacao powder” at a health food store or see if you can order it online.
The cool things about raw, unprocessed chocolate? It has 40x the antioxidants of blueberries and is packed full of iron (which is great news for veg friends). It’s got a ton of magnesium and calcium for a healthy heart and strong bones. But the coolest thing? It’s a natural mood booster and anti-depressant! It naturally releases these happy little bliss hormones, called serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosin, and phenylethylamine.
It’s also a great wake-me-up, containing a small amount of caffeine.
The primary benefit of turmeric is around gut health. This is because of the primary bioactive substance found in this favorite curry ingredient, called curcumin. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, which is what makes it so helpful for the gut and pain reduction. There is also moderate evidence that supports its improvement in the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The most important thing to note here is that, while beneficial, curcumin is actually hard to absorb. It’s been shown to have much better absorption when paired with pepper (which is the main reason I use it in this recipe).
Adding Spice to the Hot Chocolate
While cacao and turmeric are the major players in this power drink, all the spices I use are chosen not only for their taste, but the health benefits of each one.
This wonderful spice isn’t just delicious, it’s been used in traditional medicine to ease digestion. Over 11 studies show a high consistency in the reduction of nausea and additional research shows it’s an effective anti-inflammatory.
Okay, best spice ever? Or is that just me? Cinnamon is frequently used as an anti-diabetic and can help us keep our blood sugar levels in balance. It’s also got antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and may help fight against infection.
Another great ingredient for fighting inflammation in the body! There’s also moderate evidence that shows the aid in lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and that it can reduce the symptoms of allergies. Black cumin seeds are used in traditional medicine for protecting the kidneys and preventing stones. There may also be anti-ulcer properties, further protecting the gut.
These are usually found in their seed form and will need to be ground for the hot chocolate. For an added spice, I dry roast mine before grinding it up.
Our main reason for adding pepper is to aid in the proper absorption of the curcumin found in turmeric, but it can also be helpful for metabolism.
Fatty Hot Chocolate
Did you know some fats are freaking awesome for reducing your inflammation? While you can use any kind of plant milk you like for this recipe, I recommend watered down coconut cream. Coconut cream is a MCT fatty acid which is antibacterial and antiviral. It’s also loaded in vitamins. You can also add some healthy fat to any kind of milk you’d prefer by adding a little bit of coconut oil to the mix.
Don’t skip this! Curcumin has a better chance of absorption when paired with black pepper and fats. The fats allow it to be digested easier in our bellies.
Try it at home!
Take note of the optional ingredients – cayenne and sweetener. I like mine extra spicy, so I add the cayenne for an extra kick. The sweetener is up to you – what kind and how much you need. Start with less and add what you need.
Spiced Hot Cocoa
- Powder Mix
- 2/3 cup powdered cacao
- 3 tbs turmeric
- 6 ts ground ginger
- 6 ts ground cinnamon
- 3 ts ground black pepper
- 3 ts ground black cumin
- dash of cayenne pepper (optional, to taste) Hot Cocoa
- 1 tbs drink powder
- Mug of warm, fatty milk (see notes above)
- Sweetener: honey, raw sugar, etc (optional, to taste)
- Mix together dry ingredients and store in a sealed container.
- To make the hot cocoa, warm the milk to a temperature of your choice, add the powder and sweetener, and whisk thoroughly.
- It’s easier to do this in a small pot, barista carafe, or larger mug that gives you room to whisk without making a mess. You can also use an automatic whisk or a frother to get a smoother texture and a bit of foam.
I’d also note that this can be a pretty thick drink. If you take too long to enjoy your cocoa, it may start to separate a bit. If you’re a slower drinker, like me, just keep something in the mug to stir it occasionally so your last drink isn’t so thick with powder.
Do you struggle with bloating? Make sure to check out my most-loved recipe, my anti-bloating miracle tonic. This drink also uses ginger and turmeric, but adds some other powerhouses to the mix and is much more potent than the spiced hot cocoa.
What’s your favorite way to spice up a hot cocoa? Let me know in the comments!