Whenever we get snowstorms here in Charlotte I feel nostalgic about when I was a child and my mom would mix up Swiss Miss hot cocoa after we got done playing in the snow. It was the best way to warm up my cold little hands!
This gets me wondering now though… What are the ingredients in Swiss Miss? They can’t be that bad, right? Shouldn’t it be basically cocoa powder and sugar?
I ran down to the supermarket to see for myself. And boy was I wrong!
All the popular brands of hot cocoa mix are packed with unnecessary emulsifiers, refined sweeteners, and fake flavors:
CORN SYRUP or CORN SYRUP SOLIDS (in Swiss Miss, Nestle, Great Value): A heavily processed form of sugar typically made from the starch of GMO corn. This refined sugar has zero nutritional value.
CONVENTIONAL WHEY or DAIRY SOLIDS (in Swiss Miss, Nestle, Great Value): Derived from conventionally raised dairy cows who were likely raised in a large factory farm on a diet of GMOs and routine antibiotics.
NATURAL FLAVORS (in Swiss Miss, Good & Gather, Great Value): A proprietary ingredient that can contain preservatives, emulsifiers, solvents and other additives that can make up 80% of the formulation (such as: sodium benzoate, glycerin, potassium sorbate, and propylene glycol – none of which are labeled).
ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS (in Nestle, Great Value): Chemical mixtures produced by fractional distillation and chemical manipulation of various chemicals like crude oil or coal tar. Much cheaper than using real food ingredients, and used to make processed food taste irresistible.
MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES (in Swiss Miss, Great Value): This emulsifier is a byproduct of oil processing – including canola and soybean oils – which may contain trans fat that is detrimental to our heart health.
SUCRALOSE (in Nestle): Artificial sweetener made in a laboratory by reacting sugar with Chlorine. Has been linked to leukemia and related blood cancers in animal studies.
CELLULOSE GUM (in Nestle, Great Value): This thickener and emulsifier is usually made from wood, because it’s cheap. Research links consumption of this additive (not naturally occurring when found in whole food) to weight gain, inflammation and digestive problems.
This is totally ridiculous. You can make hot cocoa with a handful of pantry ingredients – which is how I make it at home nowadays.
There are some good organic store-bought hot cocoa mixes, such as Nib Mor, Lake Champlain, or Equal Exchange, but it is way cheaper to make your own. You can make a big batch and store it in a glass jar for when the craving strikes!
All you do is mix together one cup each of cacao powder and coconut sugar. Stir in one and a half cups of coconut milk powder and store the hot cocoa mix in a jar. When you’re ready to make cocoa, simply add 3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix to a mug and stir in hot water. Each jar makes 18 servings!
If you want to be fancy – you can add some ground cinnamon or vanilla powder to your mix. You can also add a drop of vanilla extract or peppermint extract to your hot cocoa when making a cup.
Here’s why my homemade version is healthier than Swiss Miss:
- Organic cacao powder is a superfood that’s very high in antioxidants!
- Coconut sugar is unrefined, which means that its teeming with vitamins and minerals. This makes it less acidic on the body than corn syrup and refined cane sugar.
- Coconut milk powder makes a great replacement for conventional dairy that comes from factory farm cows.
I sometimes like to top my homemade hot cocoa with natural marshmallows – and never Kraft Jet Puffed or other conventional marshmallows that contain artificial blue dye – bleh!
SmashMallows are the brand I currently buy because I haven’t found an organic brand or another dye-free brand without carrageenan (Dandies uses carrageenan). I’m hoping SmashMallows go organic one day!
- 1 cup cacao powder
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1½ cups coconut milk powder
- Sift together the ingredients until well combined. Store in an airtight container.
- To make a cup of hot cocoa, heat 8 ounces of water and add 3 tablespoons of cocoa mix. Stir well to combine.
Optional add-ins (add to dry mix):
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
Optional add-ins (add to one cup of hot cocoa along with the water):
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
I hope your family loves this hot cocoa as much as we do!
Please share this recipe with anyone in your life who’s still drinking hot cocoa filled with questionable ingredients. They will (hopefully) thank you for it!