Spiced hazelnut hot chocolate
Perfect weather for a deliciously smooth, creamy, warming hot chocolate, isn’t it?! Try this one with added spices for some extra zing to the cacao – nutmeg to help balance blood sugar levels, cardamon for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and cinnamon for antifungal and antibacterial properties to help fight tooth decay and bad breath. As well as the sweetness of hazelnuts and the warming properties of ginger.
Benefits of cacao
- It’s in the stats:
- 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries
- Highest plant source of iron
- Abundant in magnesium
- More calcium than cow’s milk
- Made by crushing cacao beans and removing the fat or cacao butter, unprocessed and unsweetened dark cacao powder has been linked to numerous health benefits.
- As one of the richest sources of polyphenols, unprocessed cacao is especially abundant in flavanols that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- The flavanols are thought to improve nitric oxide levels in the blood, which can enhance the function of your blood vessels and reduce blood pressure.
- Flavanols also support neuron production, brain function and improve blood flow to brain tissue, which may assist in preventing age-related brain degeneration.
- May exert positive effects on mood by reducing stress levels and improving calmness, contentment and overall psychological wellbeing due to:
- actions of flavanols
- conversion of tryptophan to the feel good hormone serotonin
- its caffeine content
- the sensory pleasure of eating chocolate.
Why add hazelnuts?
- These sweet flavoured nuts can be eaten raw, roasted or ground into a paste to obtain their rich source of nutrients and high content of protein, fibre and good fats.
- High in vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as the essential omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.
- These healthy fats provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions for heart health and lowering cholesterol.
- With 15% protein and 4% fibre they assist blood sugar regulation.
- Rich in phenolic compounds that have been shown to increase antioxidant protection in the body.
How can ginger help?
- Closely related to turmeric and cardamom, ginger is a warming food that can be eaten or drunk in many ways and very easy to include in the diet.
- Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine to aid digestion, reduce nausea, assist joint pain and balance blood sugar levels.
- Gingerol is the main bioactive compound responsible for the medicinal properties via its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
- As a digestive carminative, ginger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach and assist with indigestion and discomfort.
- Ginger is also a metabolic stimulant and, according to studies, at 2 g a day, it may help improve weight-related measurements, including body weight and the waist-hip ratio, by increasing the number of calories burned and reducing inflammation.
- 3 cups milk of choice
- 4 tablespoons cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons smooth hazelnut butter
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Dark chocolate and ground cinnamon to garnish
Note: Use smoothly ground hazelnut butter. If your hazelnut butter has a rough texture you can make it smoother by blending with a stick blender directly in the jar. Alternatively, you can strain the hot chocolate into the cup to serve for a silky smooth hazelnut hot chocolate.
- Whisk all ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan until the cacao has mixed into the milk.
- Heat gently over low/medium heat, whisking constantly for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is hot and frothy.
- Pour into cups/mugs, as big as you like, through a strainer if required.
- Top with a little grated dark chocolate and a shake of ground cinnamon, if desired.
- Drink and smile!
Makes 2-3 cups