December 13 is Hot Cocoa Day every year. As winter weather sets in, it's a great time to make some homemade hot cocoa and sip it slowly while relaxing. The antioxidants in cocoa powder may help decrease blood pressure and improve cholesterol, and cocoa boosts mood. Cocoa powder is the best way to enjoy chocolate, because it is lower in saturated fat than other forms of chocolate.
Avoid packaged hot cocoa drink mixes, since they contain added sugar and their Dutch processing harms the antioxidants. Instead, select unsweetened pure cocoa powder (no ingredients besides the 100% cacao). Hershey's unsweetened or Trader Joe's unsweetened (pictured) are a good option. For a low-calorie, low-fat but satisfying chocolate dessert, Sheila warms a glass of unsweetened soymilk and then adds a heaping spoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. Stir it well, or if you want it frothy use a French press or blender to mix. If you need added sweetness, blend in a pitted date or a drop of stevia (a sweet herb with no calories). Enjoy!