Chocolate – or cocoa – while delicious, isn’t a cure-all, but a recent study suggests that it can help keep you mentally sharp.
Seniors who downed two cups of hot cocoa daily performed better on thinking and memory tests that those who didn’t – and had better blood flow to their brains.
Other studies have linked consuming chocolate to reduced blood pressure, lower risk for stroke and better cholesterol levels.
Now that you know it’s good for you – as well as good tasting – make yourself a cup (or two) on these cold winter days. This low-calorie hot cocoa mix is just the ticket for a quick and warming chocolate fix.
Low-calorie Viennese Hot Cocoa Mix
8 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
30 packets sugar substitute, low-calorie, or the equivalent of 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup instant coffee granules
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, whisk or stir all ingredients until very well blended.
Pack in clean, dry jars with tight-fitting lids. This keeps indefinitely at room temperature.
To make hot cocoa: Dissolve 1/3 cup mix in eight ounces hot water, skim milk or milk alternative such as soy, almond or coconut. Yield: eight cups.
Calories per serving: 102
(From the Lighten Up the Holidays booklet, Baptist Health Louisville Cardiac Rehabilitation.)
For a more rich and calorie-laden version, try this:
1 square sweetened chocolate
2 to 4 tbsp. sugar
Few grains of salt
½ cup hot water
3 ½ cups scalded milk*
Melt chocolate in heavy pan or top half of double boiler. Add sugar, salt and hot water. Boil until smooth and glossy, stirring as needed.
Add milk and reheat. The flavor is improved if the mixture is allowed to stand for 20 to 30 minutes or longer before serving. Garnish with whipped cream or place a marshmallow in the bottom of the cup before the beverage is poured. Place a 3- to 4-inch stick of peppermint candy in each cup as a stirrer.
*For a slightly more virtuous take, use 1 or 2 percent milk, or almond milk. If using almond milk, do not scald.