healthier hot chocolate (plus the secret to making it gorgeously thick!)

hot chocolate

Words to describe recipes that make this Dietitian cringe:

  • Guilt-Free
  • Sugarless/Sugar-Free
  • Healthy

They’re such popular words but I can’t compromise my ethics to use them! Notice how I used the word “healthier” hot chocolate. It sounds pretty lame. A simple “healthy” would probably be cooler. But is hot chocolate really a health food? No, it belongs in the treat category. I’m all for making treats healthier but let’s not kid ourselves… they’re still treats. 

  • Guilt-Free: all food should be eaten without guilt. This emotion should NEVER come into play while you’re eating! If it does, I highly recommend working with a nutritional coach (such as myself, ahem) to develop a healthy relationship with food. When you eat intuitively everything is guilt-free! When you eat intuitively, you begin to choose food that will nourish your body (most of the time) and enjoy treats occasionally!

guilt-free eating

  • Sugarless/Sugar-Free: most of the time when I see this it’s a bold-faced lie. There are naturally containing sugars in a lot of foods. Just because you didn’t scoop any out from a sugar bowl doesn’t mean the recipe doesn’t have sugar in it! If it tastes sweet, it probably has sugar (unless the recipe has an artificial sweetener or stevia as an ingredient). 
  • Healthy: a donut is still a donut. Substituting whole wheat for allpurpose flour doesn’t turn a donut into a health food!  You can make a food healthi-er though. Just like I did with this hot chocolate recipe. 

If you give this recipe a go, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or snap a photo and tag it with #smartnutritionrecipes on Instagram!  I’d love to see your creations! Knowing someone has enjoyed one of my recipes always makes my day brighter.  

Healthier Hot Chocolate

  • 12 dates
  • 3 cups of milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (the secret to thick, velvety hot chocolate!)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or powder

 Start by placing your dates in a 4 cup (1 litre)  measuring cup. Cover with a bit of milk or water. Then microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove and mash with a fork. Make sure there aren’t any pits that evaded removal. If it’s not completely mashable, return to the microwave for another 30 seconds. The dates transform into the most delicious, caramelly goo ever. The smell at this point is intoxicating.

Transfer the goo to a blender.

healthier hot chocolate

Measure out 3 cups of milk into the measuring cup you just used. Again, microwave until hot… maybe 3 minutes or so, depending on your microwave. Pour into the blender. Add the cocoa, xanthan gum, and vanilla extract. Blend for 1 minute. Pour into mugs and allow to sit for 2 minutes. 

Enjoy your luscious, healthi-er hot chocolate!

healthier hot chocolate

Why It’s A Smart Choice

When you substitute dates for table sugar, you get a bunch of other nutrients along with your sugar! Sugar is just food that’s been stripped of all fibre, vitamins, and minerals, so why not make your treats sweet with something that actually provides all of those?  

  100g Dates (about 12) 100 g Table Sugar (about ½ cup)
Fibre 8 g 0 g
Iron 1.02 mg 0.05 mg
Calcium 39 mg 1 mg
Magnesium 43 mg 0 mg
Potassium 656 mg 2 mg
Sugar 63 g 99.8 g

Nutrition Info retrieved from the Canadian Nutrient File database

Healthier Hot Chocolate plus the secret to making it gorgeously thick


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15 Comments on “healthier hot chocolate (plus the secret to making it gorgeously thick!)”

  1. YUMM!!! But….. I just finished grocery shopping for the month but did NOT buy dates and now I am sad….I’ll have to keep this in mind!

    1. Make sure to put dates on your shopping list for next month 🙂
      As good as this recipe is I don’t know if anything is worth venturing out into the deep freeze…

  2. The comment space is not marked as a “required field” but if you really would like one, here it is:
    Looking forward to trying your hot chocolate….thank u for subscribing me!

  3. Where did you get the owl mugs? I found a small tea pot, for loose tea, at an estate sale and it looks just like your mugs. I’d love to get a few more to have a nice set 🙂

    1. They were a Christmas gift a couple of years ago from my sister! I think she found them online though… maybe they’re still out there? Does your tea pot match these owl mugs? If so, I’d love one of those!

  4. Xantham gum is also MSG. Thought I’d let you know since you called this “healthier hot chocolate”.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I’m always glad to have feedback and I hope you’re open to discussing further on this.

      I’d be interested in hearing where you’ve heard that Xanthan gum is MSG, because their chemical structures are actually very different.

      It’s also important to note that, contrary to what we’ve often heard, MSG is not a less healthy ingredient! A small percentage of people report adverse effects when consuming MSG, but when scientists have given these people MSG without their knowledge, they don’t experience any symptoms! So there might be something else in the food that is affecting them, but it’s not actually MSG. It might jar us to hear that, because we have often heard about how bad MSG is, but unfortunately that’s because MSG has undeservedly gotten a bad rap!

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  6. Love this recipe, although using a microwave kills all the nutrients in anything so i will be doing it over a hob.

  7. I wouldn’t recommend microwaving anything for consumption, although in college I did use the dorm microwave to quick dry cotton shirts. Lol. I don’t own one now, so I’ll definitely be making this on the stove. So glad to have found this recipe!

    Have you ever blended the dates before heating them? I wonder if doing so would shorten the heating time or just make date goop. Maybe chopping them beforehand would offer better results.

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  9. Just made this recipe today to warm up this afternoon after playing in the snow! Was good and the kids really liked it. Definitely a lot less sweet tasting than the powdered stuff but I liked it better.

    1. Good point! I should have mentioned in the recipe that it’s not as sweet. I personally find the powdered stuff overwhelmingly too sweet and don’t really like it at all!

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