My approach to raising my kids to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food is firmly centred around education, enjoyment and finding the middle ground. When they were little I was very strict, controlling everything that passed their little lips. I just wanted what was best for them (in those early formative years) and to be honest I wouldn’t change a thing.
However as they grew older and more autonomous, I realised I needed to loosened my control a little. I found as they sought to try all kinds of foods including those I wouldn’t ordinarily buy (at friends houses) – the more resistance I showed, the more they wanted it. I understood, after all I’d raised them to be adventurous eaters who just love food – and love food they do.
So once I could no longer control everything they ate, I took a big step back, focussing on feeding them as much good, wholesome food when I was in charge (99% of the time) and let them make their own decisions when they were out. They have often made bad decisions and felt worse for wear after doing so, but I believe that’s how they learn to distinguish what feels good and what doesn’t. As they grow older, I can see they are very in-tune with their bodies and how food makes them feel because I’ve encouraged them over the years to recognise and name those feelings, which I think is an important skill that many adults struggle with.
Anyhow, back to the purpose of this post – hot chocolate. On one of their first school camps, my kids got to try milo for the first time. They were needless to say impressed, though they also admitted to finding it very ‘rich’ (the word they use for anything that doesn’t sit right other tummy – generally very sweet stuff).
We live in a hot climate so cold drinks are much more appealing most of the year round (my version of an iced chocolate is a favourite and a great way to include avocado). However this winter, we’ve had a few cold days and my kids have taken it upon themselves to invent their own ‘Healthy Hot Chocolate’. They love spices and really crave them in the cooler months – it’s like they instinctively know they are what their body needs to stay well over winter. You can alter the spices to suit your own taste (so if you don’t like ginger, don’t add it), but this is the a nice blend if I do say so myself.
A really great way to move towards a healthier diet is to take foods you or your kids enjoy and add things to make them healthier. So whilst a simple hot chocolate could be just cacao, sweetener and milk, adding spices results in a more medicinal drink.
The spices are all wonderfully supportive to both digestion and the respiratory tract so perfect for winter sickness:
Cinnamon – anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, improves circulation, balances blood-sugar levels
Cardamon – anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, improves circulation, calming and soothing to the gut
Ginger – improves circulation, anti-inflammatory especially to the gut, respiratory and muscular-skeletal systems
Turmeric – powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and supports liver function (and, therefore, digestion)
Vanilla – anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory
Makes 2 cups
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
¼ teaspoon ginger, ground
¼ teaspoon turmeric, ground
¼ teaspoon cardamon, ground
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder or essence
Sweetener of your choice, *to taste (rapadura, coconut sugar, honey, rice malt syrup, stevia)
4-500ml milk of your choice (cow, coconut, nut milk)
* Work towards using as little sweetener as possible. My kids actually enjoy this with no sweetener at all. But if your tribe are accustomed to commercial hot chocolate drinks (even the healthy varieties which I also find are very sweet), each time you make this, work on reducing the sweetener just a little. You can always add more if need be.
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