Hot chocolate is one of my favorite wintry treats. Not that it’s very wintry here in Texas – we’ve had t-shirt weather days lately! Nonetheless, I love hot chocolate and Christmas provides the perfect opportunity for indulgence.
We’re staying with a family who has a Keurig, and I was excited about the possibilities. Insert a cup, push a button, and a hot drink appears, ready to go! My sweet hubby made a Walmart run for hot chocolate K-cups for his pregnant wife, (because the baby needed hot chocolate, you know <G>) I cooked up a cup, and it tasted good overall, but I kept tasting this strange aftertaste.
“Surely not. Surely there wouldn’t be artificial sweeteners in the hot chocolate.”
Sure enough. A quick read of the ingredient label revealed that it was sweetened with sucralose. So sad. It’s not limited to the K-cups version, either. Even the regular Swiss Miss hot chocoate- the old standby at my house – is sweetened with sucralose.
Thankfully all is not lost. It’s super easy to mix up your own hot chocolate mix (not to mention cheaper!) If you want to pick up a ready-made mix, the Ghiradelli store-bought version, as well as the Trader Joe’s version, is also sucralose-free.
Why Avoid Sucralose?
While toted as a ‘natural’ sweetener, there is nothing natural about sucralose (Splenda). Cane sugar is used in the initial manufacturing process, but it’s long gone by the time sucralose is finished. Instead, you’re left with chlorine atoms bound together with dextrose and maltodextrin. Our bodies don’t know what to do with this chemical, and while some of it is excreted, the rest (40%, according to the Japanese Food Sanitation Council) accumulates in our kidneys, liver, and intestines.
Researchers at Duke University studying rats determined that Splenda actually contributes to obesity, destroys “good” intestinal bacteria, and can prevent prescription drugs from being absorbed.
So, let’s skip the sucralose and just enjoy a little real sugar in moderate amounts.
Favorite Hot Cocoa Recipe (slightly modified from Hershey’s)
1/2 c organic cane sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
1/4c Hershey’s Cocoa
1/3 c hot water
4 c raw milk
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in saucepan; stir in water.
2. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; boil and stir 2 minutes.
3. Stir in milk and heat. Do not boil.
4. Remove from heat; add vanilla.