What better way to surprise your family, friends, and teachers this holiday season than with a tasty cup of homemade hot cocoa? A jar of this all-time favorite treat is a perfect way to tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Who can resist a warm cup of rich and creamy love on a cold winter’s day? Definitely not me!
It is that time of year and although it is my favorite month it is also insanely hectic. Christmas, several birthdays, and parties galore… Fun, Fun, Fun!
I have to admit, I am a big fan of hot cocoa… more like obsessed with this delectable treat.
There was a point in my life where I drank two cups of hot cocoa a day. Seriously, I am not lying. Luckily, I was training for my first marathon so I was able to burn off all those extra calories. Flash forward several years and 4 kids with dietary restrictions, I haven’t been on a hot cocoa bender in awhile.
I said bye-bye to the Swiss Miss packets and hello to raw cacao powder and made an amazing dairy-free treat that allows kid 1 to indulge. I decided to spread the love in a creative way by giving my family, friends, and children’s teachers something to enjoy while cozying up by the fireplace or watching TV.
For quite a few years now I have been making cookies, placing them in a festive tin with a cute little poem and a picture of my 4 little helpers. I made a change recently and decided to use a mason jar and layer ingredients that make the perfect hot cocoa mix. All that is needed is a mug of warm non-dairy milk to accompany this sensational treat. The best part about the ingredients is that they are dairy-free yet still tastes so rich and creamy.
Unsweetened natural cocoa powder contains flavonoids that are part of antioxidants known as polyphenols. Antioxidants help to fight cancer, heart disease, and aging. Who would think drinking cocoa could be associated with reduced blood pressure, improved blood vessel health and lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and elevating HDL (“good”) cholesterol? Everything in moderation of course.
Replacing refined sugar with coconut palm sugar is a much better option for several reasons. The caloric intake in refined sugar is high and it has no nutritional value. Coconut palm sugar ranks 35 on the glycemic index, while regular sugar is between 60 and 75. High glycemic foods cause blood sugar levels to spike which is a big no-no for diabetics.
I then layered the jar with vegan chocolate chips (Enjoy Life) and dye-free, vegan marshmallows (Dandies). I thought it would be a cute idea to include the ingredients and instructions on how to make the hot cocoa. I stopped by Michaels and found the perfect labels and some red ribbon to attach to the jar. I just had to make it a bit personal so I added a cute photo of my boys with a sweet, short poem which they helped me create. I am not a big fan of peppermint so I decided to attach the candy cane on the side giving those who are a little extra bonus. Also, it makes the jar look more festive. I found a great brand that is dye-free, gluten-free, made without corn syrup, and artificial colors called TruJoy Sweets. 72 mason jars later the gifts were complete and ready to be delivered.