As the temperature drops this winter, nothing hits the spot like a good cup of hot cocoa.  While most hot chocolate is overly processed and full of empty calories and sugar, this recipe uses all natural clean ingredients.  Now you can make your own HEALTHY cup of cocoa, for a nutritious and delectable winter treat!    

~This recipe can be sugar-free and/or dairy free depending on which sweetener and milk you use.  It is easily customizable and is only ~100-200 calories per cup! ~

Select the right milk: This depends on your dairy preferences and what you’re looking for in your hot cocoa.  For a dairy-free alternative- try almond, soy or coconut milk (unsweetened almond will provide the lowest calories, and coconut will give you the creamiest consistency). If you use regular or low-fat cow’s milk, go for the organic to avoid all those added hormones.  

Add cocoa (the unsweetened kind): Unsweetened pure cocoa powder has a number of health benefits.  It is chalk full of antioxidants, which promotes blood flow — a benefit that helps with memory and heart health.  Cocoa actually contains more antioxidants per cup than a serving of red wine or tea!  

Cocoa is nutritious and low in calories- A 2 tbsp. serving of unsweetened cocoa powder contains ~ 25 calories,  1.5 grams of fat, and <1 gram of sugar.  It also provides you with 3.6 g of fiber, which is 14 percent of the daily value.  

Add a sweetener (lightly): Cocoa can be bitter so a small amount of sweetener is key. Try an all-natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, or a pinch of stevia for a sugar-free treat.  A drop of vanilla extract also adds a sweet flavor without sugar.

Spice it up: Cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, and ginger all pair well with cocoa and deliver a host of antioxidants, as well as flavor.


  • ~1-1/2 cup almond milk or milk of choice 
  • ~1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (can adjust amount depending on how rich you want it) 
  • ~1 Tsp. sweetener of choice (or to taste depending on sweet preference).  
    Sweet options: honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia etc.
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: Add a pinch of spice of choice to boost flavor! 

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over high heat, using a whisk to break up any clumps. Keep stirring until smooth and piping hot, then pour into a mug and serve warm.  Add a whipped topping and shaved chocolate, if desired. Enjoy

Janaelle Humberd, Registered Dietitian, LDN  
Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant / Health Coach