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A Plant-Based Healthy Spiced Hot Cocoa Recipe to Indulge in this Holiday Season

By Chantelle Roberts, BHS, Naturopathic Graduate


As the weather gets colder and with holidays right around the corner, I find myself embracing nostalgia and gravitating towards all things warm, cozy, and indulgent! A warm mug of hot cocoa sounds about right and checks all those boxes. Check-out this article for a recipe on one of my favourite and healthy- “ish” holiday treats to stay warm and cozy-up over the holiday season – a plant-based healthy spiced hot cocoa. 

“Healthy” is a word I use lightly to describe this decadent treat, but it is absolutely a healthier and more wholesome hot cocoa recipe than what most may be accustomed to! It is a wonderful blend of bitter cocoa powder and dark chocolate, richness from healthy fats, and warming spices. It really adds some warmth and “spice” to cold dreary winter nights. I enjoy curling up to book or watching a movie while sipping on this beverage.

Cocoa Theobroma, or just cocoa for short, is often associated with sweets or treats in our modern society, but it has a long history of use in traditional medicine and with many great health benefits. Cocoa has its roots in indigenous healing and ritualistic practices in South America where it was often consumed as a beverage (1). It was highly valued and often scarce resource in the cultures (1). It’s popularity and commercial appeal (as chocolate) was presented to the masses after colonization and alterations in traditional agricultural practices (1). When considering health benefits, cocoa is a rich source of flavonoids, minerals, and nutrients, such as magnesium, copper, potassium, and calcium (2, 3). These constituents give it potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties (2, 3). A 100-calorie serving of dark chocolate provides 36mg of magnesium, which is an important co-factor in many biological processed in the body (3). Additionally, each gram of cocoa powder contains up to 50mg of polyphenols, which is the source of its powerful antioxidant properties (3). Recent research suggests that cocoa has beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, immune modulation, insulin resistance, mitochondrial health, mood, and many more aspects of health (2). The key to unlocking the health benefits of cocoa is consuming in forms that contain smaller amounts of sugar and limited processing – dark chocolate and hot cocoa are great options.


Recipe: Plant-Based Healthy Spiced Hot Cocoa


-          2 cups of plant-based milk of choice (coconut, soy, almond, and cashew are all great options!)

-          2 Tbsp of coconut cream*

-          2 Tbsp organic unsweetened cocoa powder

-          0.5 oz of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

-          1 tsp of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

-          2 cinnamon sticks

-          2 green cardamom pods

-          Sweeten to taste with sweetener of choice (maple syrup or coconut sugar are my favourites. For a low-calorie option you can go for a stevia extract)

-          Optional: for some extra “kick” you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Just a tiny pinch!


1.       In a medium-sized saucepan, combine plant-based milk of choice, coconut cream and dark chocolate. Turn heat on to medium-high. Stir frequently until chocolate has completely melted and all have combined. Add-in vanilla and stir.

2.       Sift hot cocoa powder through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any clumps (this is an optional step, but I highly recommend it to get a smooth and velvety texture).

3.       Slowly add the cocoa powder to the saucepan. Stir gently to combine.

4.       Add cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and cayenne (if using). Allow mixture to come to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring often to avoid burning.

5.       Remove from heat and sweeten to taste with sweetener of choice. Pour into two mugs and garnish with additional cocoa powder, ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks.

6.       Top with a generous dallop of coconut whip cream (see recipe below. Highly recommended!)

7.       Enjoy 😊 


Recipe: Coconut Whipped Cream

-          ½ cup coconut cream*

-          ½ Tbsp maple syrup

-          1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


1.       Combine ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

2.       Mix ingredient together with a hand mixer on high speed for several minutes (approximately 2-3 minutes), until peaks begin to form.

3.       Add a generous dallop to warm hot cocoa.


Recipe notes:

*You can find canned coconut cream in most grocery stores. Alternatively, you can purchase a can of full-fat coconut mil and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you will see coconut cream hardened on top. Use the solidified coconut cream in this recipe and save the liquids for later us.



1.       Caso, L. (2020). A culture of cacao and chocolate: from mesoamerica to today’s traditional producers. ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America. 

2.       Latif, R. (2013). Health benefits of cocoa. Curr Opin Clin Nut Met Care, 16(6), 669–674.

3.       Katz, D., Doughty, K., & Ali, A. (2011). Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxid Redox Signal, 15(10), 2779–2811.


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