We’re expecting the first winter storm of the season this weekend here in Manitoba and I’m prioritizing all things cozy this winter because, love it or hate it, its coming with its bountiful snow + bone chilling cold weeks. Honestly, I usually dread winter, especially once the excitement of the holidays are over and theres still 3+ months of snow and cold to endure. But ayurveda asks us to accept the seasons and adapt our lifestyles to hone into seasonal energy, to honour the earth’s cycles and work with her, not against her.
Winter is a vata season, which is one of the three doshas that are the energetic life forces that exist within all living things. Made up of elements, these life forces deeply correlate with the earth and her seasons. Vata is made up of water and air and has light, flowing energy. When you think about winter, you’ll find these elements relate. The perfect antidote for the cold, dry energy is indulging in nourishing, spiced meals and warm drinks. Theres a reason you dont often crave a fresh salad during the winter! Keeping your body warm also helps keep digestion smooth.
Warming up with a steaming cup of Nestle Carnation hot chocolate with tiny little mini marshmallows in it after tobogganing or ice skating will always bring back nostalgic memories of childhood. Although it tasted great and served me well as a child, I prefer creating a healthier version of this winter favourite for myself and my family to indulge in on a chilly night or Christmas morning from the crock pot.
Cacao (pronounced cu-cow) is different than cocoa most of us are familiar with, although it is technically derived from the same tree. Regular cocoa powder and chocolate is chemically processed and roasted which destroys the antioxidants and minerals. A common process called “dutch processing” essentially eliminates all the goodness.
Raw cacao is rich with essential minerals like magnesium which is the most deficient mineral in the western world, has more calcium than cows milk, is the highest plant-based source of iron known to man, contains B vitamins, and has over 40x the antioxidants of blueberries! Its also packed with mood boosting neurotransmitters. Cacao is a source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals – serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with cozy feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can help alleviate symptoms of depression. A natural, healthy, delicious way to get your happy buzz on.
I use just a few simple but quality ingredients in my ayurvedic hot chocolate recipe: raw cacao, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, and unsweetened oat or almond milk. You can use whatever milk you enjoy. Occasionally I like to add reishi mushroom powder or ashwagandha for extra benefits. Together, these ingredients concoct a perfect winter drink to soothe the mind and nourish the body.
Yield: 4 servings | Ingredients:
- 6 cups of milk of choice
- 4.5 Tablespoons raw cacao powder (I like this one here) Organic Traditions is a Canadian company and we really love the quality of their products.
- 3-4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey, or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons of reishi or ashwagandha (optional)
In a medium saucepan, slowly heat milk over medium heat. Whisk in cacao powder until well blended and warm to your liking. Remove from heat and stir in spices and maple syrup. Whisk until foamy or use a handheld milk frother. Serve immediately with a dash of cinnamon and cardamom or topped with real whipped cream!