Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Contact Us | Home RSS

Hot chocolate anyone?

February 9, 2016
Amanda Bohlen , MOV Parent

There's a chill in the air and snowflakes are falling outside my window. My first instinct is to curl up in a warm blanket, grab a good book and a big cup of hot chocolate. There is something nostalgic about hot chocolate. It seems to warm my soul and flood my brain with happy childhood memories. My brother and I could play for hours outside in the snow making snowmen, snow angels and our all-time favorite snow forts! We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac and when it snowed it was always plowed right into our front yard. We would have so much fun making tunnels through the huge heaps of snow. My mom would always yell out the front door for us to come in because we needed to get warm. It was easy to lose track of the feeling in our toes because we were having so much fun. Coming in the house there was melted snow on the floor, my hands were ice cold, cheeks were rosy and I was anxious for a cup of hot chocolate I knew my mom would have ready for me.

Fast-forward to the present time and I'm anxious for my fitst cup of the New Year. However, I made a New Year's resolution to be healthier and watch my sugar intake. Have you ever taken time to stop and read the nutrition label on a box of hot chocolate? The first two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. Cocoa is not listed until the fifth ingredient. My once loved drink was slowly adding weight to my body. One cup of hot chocolate can contain anywhere from four to seven teaspoons of sugar.

Since my favorite way of making mine is with reduced fat milk and using original hot chocolate packaged mix I was drinking seven teaspoons of sugar in one cup!

Article Photos

I was not going to let one little drink ruin my goal of becoming healthier. I set out to find a better option. Standing at the grocery store my mind was overloaded with all the different options. All too many times we believe what we read on the outside of the box instead of taking the time to read the nutrition label. No sugar added had to be better for me right? It should have fewer calories. Or what about the all-natural versions where you can pronounce all the ingredients? There aren't any added sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. What if I pick the dark chocolate flavor? Dark chocolate has antioxidants so that hast to be the best option. What about my whipped cream or marshmallows on top?

So what is a person to do when they still want that cup of hot chocolate but are trying to be healthier? The American Heart Association offers some suggestions on how to trim the calories:

If you would prefer, make it yourself so you can control the amount of sugar. Chances are you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen. All you need is milk, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla extract. Start with taking your favorite hot chocolate recipe (or the recipe on the back of the cocoa box) and only use half the amount of sugar. By personally controlling the amount of sugar you are using it's no longer the number one ingredient. It will not seem as sweet but you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract to help give it that extra something special. For a greater depth of flavor try simmering a cinnamon stick with your milk. You can always add a little more sugar if needed. There are plenty of recipes online to make your own mix rather than buying the store bought ones just reduce the amount of sugar in those recipes too.

A healthier version of hot chocolate is very doable and in moderation has great health benefits. After all cocoa beans do come from seeds of a fruit that is grown on trees in tropical forests. That makes chocolate a fruit right?

Source: Gampel, S., & Bobroff, L. B. (2010, October). Dark Chocolate Benefits. Retrieved from

Source: Core, J. (2005, April 4). In Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity. Retrieved from

Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web