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Jo Knows Nutrition by Joanne Nijhuis

Homemade Hot Chocolate – Easy to Make and Ready in Minutes

Dec. 2, 2023 – There is nothing like a hot cup of steaming cocoa on a cold weather day and guess what? This recipe uses pantry staples and is almost as easy to prepare as those ready-made store-bought packets. Another bonus when you choose to make your own is that you can customize your cuppa to suit your specific dietary preferences and tolerances. Go ahead and use lower fat or dairy free milk as the base or if you like the rich flavour of dark chocolate, add more cocoa powder to your brew. Play around with this recipe until you’ve created your perfect rendition to share with family and friends. Here’s to chocolate love!

So, continue to enjoy your occasional hot chocolate or one or two pieces of dark chocolate daily as it is unlikely to pose a health risk. If you treat dark chocolate as the candy it is and consume it only in moderation, it should not be of concern.


  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk of choice (cow’s, almond, soy, or oat)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure maple syrup or to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (23 ml) dark or milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 teaspoon (1.7 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Shaved chocolate or whipped cream or whipping non-dairy topping for garnish


  1. In a small pot, heat the milk of choice while stirring on medium heat until just simmering.
  2. Add the cocoa powder, maple syrup, chocolate chips, vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Stir constantly until heated through.
  3. Once heated through, pour into a mug and add the toppings choice.


Joanne Nijhuis MSc, RD is a consulting, media and culinary dietitian in Simcoe Grey Bruce on a mission to entertain and educate through her love of food. In addition to recipe development and writing for several publications, Joanne offers nutrition talks and cooking demos/classes– in person or online via Zoom.

For more information, email Joanne at jo.knows.nutrition@outlook.com.

Did You Know?

Dark chocolate has a well-established reputation for being good for your health, but a Consumer Reports study that came out in December 2022 tested 28 dark chocolate bars for traces of lead and cadmium and found that either or both of these heavy metals were present in all of the chocolate bars including some that are sold in Canada (https://www.consumerreports.org/health/food-safety/lead-and-cadmium-in-dark-chocolate).

Heavy metals can cause a variety of health problems and is frequently found in food according to Health Canada. The higher the quantity of heavy metal exposure, the greater the risk to individuals. While it is important for the consumer to be aware of this research, there is no need to panic. The bottom line is that although dark chocolate has lost some of its halo effect, Health Canada reassures us that chocolate “contributes marginally” to the overall dietary exposure of lead and cadmium and that the consumption of chocolate by Canadians does not represent a health concern.

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