With all the hustle and bustle of the season, take a moment to relax. For some this moment is when you plop on the couch with a book, submerge in a hot bath or curl up with the sleeping cat for lesson in “taking it easy”. And when it’s cold outside, nothing gives me that relaxing warm feeling more than a steamy chocolaty cup of cocoa.

That’s why keeping homemade instant cocoa around is a must for me.   A dried mix of powdered non-fat milk, cocoa and sugar is it’s like pouring a cup a comfort whether I can break away from the tasks-to-do or not.

Join me November 14th for MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education’s (COPE) cooking workshop: The Taste of the Holidays!! I’ll be working with renown chef Adam Glickman – the Chef at The IInn at Villanova University, to show you award-winning recipes perfect for a sensationally healthy holiday season. LEARN MORE AND REGISTER Peruvian Spiced Hot Cocoa – take home gift

Easily heated in a microwave-minute, I like the ritual of cooking the cocoa on the stove when I have time. I use a small old 2-cup pan that I picked up at a garage sale. The metal is worn and I have to tighten the screw holding the black handle on the pan periodically. I like using skim milk instead of water for extra creaminess and protein.

Stirring over low heat the milk begins to steam and cloud across the top, my cue to whisk in the cocoa mix. As the dark dry blogs of chocolate powder incorporates and the temperature continues to rise, I like to give my cocoa something special.

When I was a kid, marshmallows were a must! Three big marshmallows or a hand full of the minis – I’d let them melt and for a creamy airy layer across the top. But who needs the extra calories, right?

Frothing the cocoa is easy way to create a thick foamy layer that really is like sipping through melted marshmallows – without the extra calories.

You can use a whisk, or a mini battery operated whisk is even better. I got my mini hand blender years ago and love it for making salad dressings, too. Naturally, you have to be a little careful since the liquid is hot. You can also us a blender, but be sure the vent the top so steam doesn’t cause the liquid to explode out.

With each sip…first through the frothy top licking away the child-like sweet mustache left behind, …of the warm cocoa…down to the last bit extra-good with some to the cocoa sediment, I fill myself with goodness – good memories and nourishment. Feeling full, it’s the perfect snack of protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium – all important for bone health.

A cup of hot cocoa helps me let go of the moment’s stress – even if it’s just for the moment.

Along with the carrots for the reindeer, this year suggest the kids leave a cup of hot cocoa for Santa.  I’m sure they’ll be rewarded for this good deed!

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Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Hot cocoa is a treat full of decadent flavor that’s good for you. Add a few drops of vanilla or a few grains of ground cayenne pepper. Top with miniature marshmallows, serve with a cinnamon stick and enjoy!
Makes about 7 servings

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup powdered milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Blend all ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container.

Add 3 heaping tablespoons of the mix to 8 ounces boiling water. For extra cream cocoa use skim milk in place of water. Stir well.