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 they sought to try all kinds of foods including those I wouldn’t ordinarily buy (at playdates and parties mostly). I noticed, the more resistance I showed to them trying ‘junk’, the more they wanted it. 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 socialising. They have often made not so great 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. This is an important skill that even adults sometimes 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 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 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.
These spices are all wonderfully supportive to both digestion and the respiratory tract, so are 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
Healthy Hot Chocolate
- 2 tbsp cacao (unsweetened Dutch process or raw)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp vanilla -powder, extract or essence
- 1 tsp rice malt syrup, honey or maple syrup *to taste (or coconut sugar or rapadura)
- 4-500 ml milk -of your choice (cow, coconut, nut milk)
- Mix the cacao and spices together into a mug or cup.
- Mix to combined then divide between the two cups.
- Add the sweetener to each cup (if required).
- Heat the milk of your choice (I generally use the frother on my coffee machine).
- Add a little hot milk to each cup and mix to dissolve the cacao, spices and sweetener. Top with the rest of the milk and enjoy immediately.
- * Try to reduce the amount of sweetener you use over time. My kids have got to the point that they don't actually need any sweeter at all any more, they love it just as much without.