Healthy Recipes

Healthier Holiday Hot Cocoa

By Tami Lyon, MPH, RD
November 16, 2016


Holiday beverages are just the thing to warm you up and make you feel cozy on a cold fall (and soon to be winter) day.  Pumpkin spice lattes, peppermint mochas, and gingerbread cappuccinos are all specialty drinks that are only available during the colder seasons, making them extra special treats we love to indulge in.  While being scrumptious and festive, these calorie-laden beverages tend to be loaded with fat and sugar.  When you’re maintaining a healthy eating plan, regularly drinking holiday beverages can form bad habits that could follow you into the new year.  To keep these bad habits at bay, try switching out standard warm beverages from coffee shops and cafés for our very own low-calorie holiday hot cocoa.

What’s the secret to making our hot cocoa feel just like the real thing without the extra fat and calories?  Frothing the milk!  Using a hand frother to thicken up the milk gives it the same creamy consistency of coffee shop beverages, making this low calorie alternative an indistinguishable trade-off.  Also, hand frothers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased for around $10-$25.  You also can steam the milk with an espresso machine if you have one at home. The amount of money and calories you’ll save yourself this holiday season is well worth the investment.

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 serving)

1 cup nonfat milk
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½-1 tsp stevia (½-1 packet)
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

For a hand frother

1. Pour the unheated milk into a large microwave safe cup.  The milk should fill up the cup only about ½-¾ of the way to the top.  (A glass measuring cup works well for this.)

2. Place the wand of your hand held frother into the mug and turn it on.  With the tip of the wand halfway into the milk, stir for about 2 minutes to create some air bubbles.  After a few large bubbles form, submerge the tip of the wand completely into the milk and continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes.  Check the consistency of the milk; it should be noticeably creamier.  If you prefer a thicker consistency, continue with the frother for 2-3 more minutes.

3. Stir the unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar (or preferred sweetener) and vanilla extract into the creamy milk.

4. Heat up the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Continue microwaving at 10-second increments until desired warmth is reached.

5. (Optional) Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.



Calories: 98
Carbs: 15g
Protein: 9g
Fat: 1.2g
Extra Nutrients: calcium, vitamin b-12, vitamin b-6, magnesium

*Individual Results May Vary