Updated: Dec 7, 2022
As a mom, avoiding sugary drinks and treats is the general rule in my household, especially during the cold & flu season. It is during this time of year that having enough Vitamin C within our systems is crucial. Sugar weakens the immune system and inhibits it from functioning properly. As sugar and Vitamin C are introduced into the digestive system, they both are transported through the bloodstream in order to be absorbed into the cells. Sugar and Vitamin C have a similar structure and enter cells using the same pathway being the glucose transporters receptors. You may need more Vitamin C to neutralize the free radicals that you create by consuming large amounts of sugar. It can take as little as 5 grams of sugar to lower your vitamin absorption!
I love to have on hand treats that my kiddos and their friends can enjoy while providing them with tasty healthy choices. In the winter, though we rarely get snow in the South, it still gets quite chilly and sometimes rainy. My kids are hopeful to see some snow fall this season so they can experience the joy of playing in the snow. I don't quite share their enthusiasm, but I have a feeling they may get their wish this winter. We will see if they get their wish of snow and just the thought of a snowy day arouses cravings for a delicious decadent cup of orange hot chocolate.
European hot chocolate is something that reminds me of coffee shops in Kyiv: creamy and hot with strong chocolate flavor where each sip brings a smile and an extra boost of energy. However, my childhood hot chocolate drink gives me a memory of something way less complicated having been made simply with milk, cocoa, and sugar. The recipe that I am sharing with you today combines all these flavors and textures from my past creating a sweet treat that is not only decadent but equally nutritious and definitely delicious!
What do I love about this orange hot chocolate with Chaga mushroom powder?
It's creamy and delicious! The rich flavor of the orange and the deep flavor of dark chocolate blends beautifully!
It can be made dairy-free and sugar-free!
It has tons of health benefits!
Doesn't contain any harmful sugar: I use naturally sweetened pure maple sugar!
Contains the super-food ingredient of mushroom powder!
It can suit anyone from toddlers to adults.
Easy and quick to make!
When using homemade nut milk, you bring this drink to another level!
It can be made as a vegan drink by using a variety of different nut milks!
This orange hot chocolate is warm and rich thus making it the perfect treat for cold days. You can drink it without guilt since it doesn't have the additives and extra sugar that hot chocolate powders contain.
What do you need to make this healthy drink?
- Milk of your choice, see note below on how to make almond-coconut milk.
- Chaga mushroom powder, see note below, why I like it?
- Maple sugar (in the video I used maple from pure maple candy)
- Celtic salt, it's my all-time favorite salt for it contains a high content of minerals including iodine.
What can you do with leftover hot chocolate?
During the cold season I make hot chocolate often. I of think this particular hot chocolate as real food because of the inclusion of the super-food mushroom powder. Believe it or not, sometimes I end up with leftovers. Since I don't like to waste food, I pour the leftovers into my all-time favorite popsicle molds and place them in the freezer: Frozen hot chocolate pops are delicious, fun to eat and my boys love them!
Note on how to make almond-coconut milk and why it is worth making?
I haven't bought any nut milk since 2014, because I make my own. It is easy, quick and much better for you. Almond-coconut milk happens to be my favorite nut milk. Searching for a good brand in a small town is not always ideal and is expensive too. When I look at the ingredient list on nut milk bottles or cartons, I always find one or two ingredients such as thickeners, emulsifiers and stabilizers that I don’t desire to consume. So many people believe dairy-free is better, but I'm always skeptical of any new promotions on the market. For example, one of the emulsifiers used in nut milks is called carrageenan. Carrageenan impacts gut health by causing inflammation. Studies show it activates inflammatory cell pathways in your gut that might lead to gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s and irritable bowel syndrome. By making nut milk from scratch, you can control the amount of sugar in the milk and eliminate additives. I like to sweeten mine with pitted dates because of the fiber, minerals and vitamins they provide.
Here is what you need to make almond-coconut milk:
1 cup of raw almonds
Pinch of Celtic salt (optional)
1 pitted date (optional)
1 can full fat coconut milk
6-7 cups of water
1. Soak the nuts, anywhere between 4-8 hours. Rinse nuts in a colander, discarding the soaking water.
2. Blend nuts, salt, dates, and one cup of freshwater for 30 seconds.
3. Add the rest of the water, coconut milk, and blend again.
5. Pour milk into a glass jar and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. The leftover pulp can be used in cooking as almond meal for baking. I like to add it to my morning porridge. This amount of milk is enough to double the hot chocolate recipe.
What is Chaga mushroom powder, and why is it good for you?
Chaga mushrooms are a nutrient-dense super-food. It has one of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbent capacity) scores of any food. This powder contains an exceptional number of antioxidants, is a natural immune booster in addition to enhancing focus and mental clarity. It also provides fiber, vitamins C, B, D and iron, along with minerals zinc, potassium and magnesium.
This mushroom fungus is mostly found in very cold habitats and grows predominantly on trees. The fungus looks like burnt wood, so its appearance isn’t initially appetizing. It grows wild in birch, chestnut, and hornbeam trees in the forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, and in northern areas of the US, and Canada. The powder form of this mushroom initiates rapid absorption into the body! I like to add it to my morning coffee or chicory drink to give me added nutrition.
1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from one orange creating large strips. Add the peels to a medium saucepan along with the milk and the cinnamon stick. Warm over medium heat until the milk starts steaming, but do not let it come to a full boil. Turn off the heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
2. Melt your chocolate in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
2. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the orange peels and cinnamon stick from the milk. Return the saucepan to medium heat and add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, mushroom powder, ginger, and salt. Whisk constantly until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth.
3. Add maple candy and whisk until it completely dissolves.
3. Divide the hot chocolate between 4 mugs. Top with grated orange zest and chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.