One of my most favorite ways of doing something special for myself is to make a “fancy” drink. Whether it is a seltzer and kombucha mocktail, a good cup of pour over coffee, or this delicious buttered hot cocoa, it’s a way to take a step back from whatever I am doing and intentionally do something for ME. It only takes a few minutes, but the benefits continue as I often enjoy the drink for the next hour or so. I tend to get so wrapped up in whatever I’m doing - whether it’s cooking dinner, doing dishes, playing with Finn or working - I find that each time I stop to consciously do something to break the “do do do” cycle, I get better at finding time for this each day. As with any new habit, each time we practice the opposite and consciously pull ourselves away, we're working to form a new and positive pattern.
So, why put butter in hot cocoa you say? Contrary to what we've been lead to believe, fat, even saturated fat is healthy for us, and many of us need more than we're getting.
I plan to write at least one post on the importance of a variety of fats and oils in the diet, but until then, the short and sweet is that many American's are not eating enough healthy fat, and eating too many refined oils. Many of us know that olive oil, the fats from oily fish, and from nuts and seeds are healthy for us, but it often ends there. We shouldn't be eating only one or two sources of fat, just like we wouldn't only eat broccoli or apples, we don't want to rely solely on olive oil and avocados for our fats.
Saturated fats, like those in organic, cold pressed and unrefined coconut oil, or in butter from cows that have been raised on pasture eating grass and hay, are essential for optimal human health. Saturated fats help to fuel our brain, aid in healthy hormone production, they satisfy appetite and keep us fuller longer. So, the butter in this coffee is there to keep you fuller longer (so you don't crave a mid morning muffin), provide every cell in your body with the fuel it needs, AND to help this drink get nice and frothy.
So, I challenge you to find time once a day to take a deep breath, pause, and do something to take care of you. Oh, and to eat a little more fat.
Buttered Hot Cocoa
Serves: 2 (in a standard size coffee mug)
2 cups milk (whole grass-fed milk, or substitute with your preferred milk)
3 TBSP raw cacao powder
1 ½ TBSP maple syrup (Grade A dark amber preferred)
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 drops peppermint oil OR ¼ tsp peppermint extract (optional)
Combine cacao powder, maple syrup, butter, vanilla and optional peppermint into a small bowl.
Pour milk into a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly warm the milk, stirring constantly - if you heat it too quickly or don’t stir, the milk will scorch and it won’t taste right.
Warm to desired temperature (I prefer very hot to the touch) and either add ingredients from the small bowl to the saucepan if using a stick/immersion blender, or add everything to an actual blender. (I prefer to use an immersion blender so I don’t have to wash my blender.) Blend until frothy!
Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup because it has a higher nutrient content than the light grade of maple syrup, it’s thicker and therefore has a stronger flavor so you don’t need as much! Best of all, it’s the cheapest grade of syrup.
I recommend grass fed butter. Two of my favorite brands are Organic Valley Pasture Butter and Kerry Gold.
I buy milk from cows that are raised on pasture, fully grass fed and living the good life. We will talk more about cows milk and alternative milks here on this blog, but if you don’t drink dairy, use your favorite go-to milk substitute for this recipe.
Difference between “cocoa” and “cacao”:
Cacao powder and cocoa powder start from the same bean, the cacao bean. Both are harvested with the same method, but the temperature the beans are heated at is where the difference lies.
Cocoa (think Hershey’s cocoa sold in the baking aisle) is heated to a higher temperature than what is sold as cacao. This higher heat process kills many of the beneficial antioxidants, and denatures some of the nutrients. The heat makes the bean (which is ground into a powder) sweeter, and therefore many bakers prefer it.
Cacao however is dried, fermented and heated at a lower temperature to maintain the beneficial antioxidants and minerals. Cacao “nibs” (pieces of the cacao bean), are a great replacement to for chocolate chips in most recipes.