Ever since I started minimizing my sugar and dairy intake, I have been on the search for an alternative, better-for-me hot chocolate. Why no milky-sugary-delicious hot chocolate, you say?
a) sugar is the devil and cancer likes it;
b) a cup of milk has, like, 13g of sugar in it (which is roughly 3 teaspoons of sugar);
c) dairy is inflammatory to the digestive system and I’d rather not add inflammation to my canciferous colon; or
d) all of the above.
“d”. The answer is “d”, all of the above. Now, I’m not saying that I NEVER have a delicious, sugar-coma-inducing hot chocolate. Like at the Hershey Spa. Or a sip of Tim’s Ghirardelli hot chocolate that he gets at Sheetz sometimes. Good God, a cup of real hot chocolate is a cup of heaven. A treat is nice once in awhile.
So, what have I tried? Milk alternatives, like almond milk. Too thin, not great when warmed up, and doesn’t dissolve cocoa powder very well. Coconut milk. Too thick. A mixture of the two? I think I tried it, and I don’t remember why it wasn’t a winner. Cashew milk is OK, but again, not great.
As for the sweetener: stevia makes it taste bitter to me. Honey and agave and coconut sugar are just sugar when it comes down to it, so no. Other no-calorie sweeteners? Ugh, I really try not to use them. And I’ve put half the sugar in, but still, it doesn’t do it for me.
But today! Today I found an alternative hot chocolate that I won’t have every day, but I can feel less guilty about:
1. Whisk about 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (just plain cocoa, not hot chocolate mix, which is also just sugar) with 1 Tbsp unsweetened or “lite” almond milk (the “lite” version only has 5g of sugar per cup), 1 tsp half-and-half, 1 tsp of vanilla, and about 1 tsp of the Splenda that comes in a box. I think it’s the baking Splenda. Or something. Anyway, this mixture will turn into a paste. This is very important! This will eliminate those annoying chocolate powder balls that can end up floating around in your cup of cocoa.
2. Heat a cup of almond milk with a tablespoon or two of half-and-half in the microwave. Or on the stove. I found 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the mic to work just fine.
3. Mix chocolate paste with heated milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon!
So, I know I try to avoid dairy, but half-and-half doesn’t have the sugar content. Also, dairy just helps the chocolate incorporate better with the liquid! Compromise, compromise.
As for the hot mess? Well, that could go a number of ways:
1. The weather. It really is a hot mess out there.
2. Alexander. Please, Alexander, sleep through the night, EVERY night! This mama needs rest. (And actually, last night he slept great, so I don’t even want to complain. Have I mentioned I hate teething?)
3. Me. Between the nosebleeds and this horrible rash, I really am a hot mess. Yes, I got the rash. Picture this: acne Maria, circa 2004. Times 10. It’s all over my upper chest, back, and face. And it is sore, like super sensitive. As for the nosebleeds, they were probably the worst on Monday and have been better since (except I just had one. Literally had a tissue wedged up my nose for half the time it has taken me to write this post). On a good note, I had blood drawn again on Thursday, and my platelets were over 100 – they haven’t been that high since at least May of last year! Red blood and white blood cell counts were good, too. Amen. And, they are treating me for the rash – Zyrtec and an antibiotic. I feel like the rash hasn’t gotten much worse since I started these meds, but it hasn’t really gotten better, either. We will figure it out. And in the meantime, let the “your face” jokes abound.
So the answer is no. No, you cannot fix a hot mess with a hot chocolate.