Yes, we believe that a healthy and balanced diet is all about moderation, but that doesn't mean saying "no" to sweets altogether — including a piping-hot cup of cocoa.
While this wintertime favorite is often loaded with sugar and calories, leaving us wary of enjoying a cup on a cold night, there are plenty of ways to make the drink a little bit healthier without sacrificing flavor.
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Below, a registered dietitian shares six delicious homemade hot chocolate recipes that pack less sugar than a Snickers bar. For reference, a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 24 grams of sugar, per the USDA, which is the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar.
1. Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 254 calories
- 21.1 grams of sugar
If you're not familiar, Mexican chocolate typically uses chili spice or cayenne to give the otherwise sweet treat a bit of heat. And the same goes for this hot drink. "The addition of cayenne adds more depth, and the combo of fat and fiber is bound to leave you feeling more satisfied than your average hot cocoa," dietitian and certified personal trainer Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, says. You'll get nearly 3 grams of both fiber and 3.4 grams of protein per cup.
Get the Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe and nutrition info from The Simple Veganista.
2. Hot Cocoa
- 127 calories
- 16 grams of sugar
We love that this easy, vanilla-spiked recipe keeps added sugar to a minimum, using honey as the main sweetener. You can experiment with additional flavors via extracts like peppermint and almond, which don't contain any sugar, Rodriguez says. If you're looking for a bit more sweetness, Rodriguez recommends topping your cup with a few mini marshmallows.
Get the Hot Cocoa recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Low-Sugar Hot Chocolate
- 139 calories
- 8 grams of sugar
Made with rich dark chocolate and calorie-free stevia, this cup of low-sugar hot chocolate is surprisingly super decadent in flavor. Just note that this cup packs 4 grams of saturated fat, which is nearly a third of the daily recommended value. To lower the saturated fat content, consider reducing the dark chocolate in half and increasing the cocoa powder for more chocolatey flavor.
Get the Low-Sugar Hot Chocolate recipe and nutrition info here.
4. White Hot Chocolate
- 177 calories
- 13.9 grams of sugar
White chocolate often gets a bad rap, but those who love it will want to add this winter beverage to their weekly menu plans. "I'd suggest sticking with a white chocolate bar instead of chips," Rodriguez suggests. "White chocolate chips are essentially just oil, milk and sugar, but not made with real cocoa butter."
Get the White Hot Chocolate recipe and nutrition info from Simple Vegan Blog.
5. Nutella Hot Chocolate
- 561 calories
- 7 grams of sugar
Nutella is one of those splurge-worthy sweets that nearly everyone knows and loves. But because one cup of this hot cocoa contains two servings of the chocolate spread, consider cutting the Nutella in half and adding a small drizzle on top for added flavor, Rodriguez says.
Get the Nutella Hot Chocolate recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Orange Spice Hot Chocolate
- 160 calories
- 23.7 grams of sugar
Even though this recipe contains the highest amount of sugar amongst our top picks, we thought it was too good to pass up. "Pure orange juice is plenty sweet on its own," Rodriguez says. So, you can halve the added sugar content or eliminate it altogether.
Get the Orange Spice Hot Chocolate recipe and nutrition info from The Simple Veganista.