Homemade hot cocoa for Christmas

One of my favorite treats around this time of year is a warm cup of hot cocoa. With Christmas just one day away, I thought I would share this tasty homemade hot cocoa recipe with you so you can enjoy it just in time for the holidays. Whether you live somewhere cold, or are somewhere warm like sunny Southern California, this is a tasty and festive treat for all.

Now let me disclose that this homemade hot cocoa recipe is not healthy or modified in any way to be healthier. Following a healthy balanced diet means sometimes enjoying a treat every once in a while, whether that’s french fries, ice cream, or even hot chocolate. The key is eating these less healthy foods that are higher in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium less often and making sure that when you do have them, you keep your portions in check 😉

This was actually my first time making homemade hot cocoa, as I grew up on the instant packets, but like most foods and beverages, I can attest that homemade is definitely better. The recipe is super simple and only took a few minutes to make.

Creamy Hot Cocoa

Christmas cocoa - Edited

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half and half cream

Directions:

  1.  Add the cocoa, sugar, and pinch of salt to a saucepan.
  2. Blend in the boiling water and bring the mixture to a boil while you stir (watch to make sure it doesn’t scorch).
  3.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes while stirring.
  4. Add in the milk and heat until very hot but not boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  6. Divide the cocoa between 4 mugs and add the cream equally between them.
  7. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles as desired and enjoy.
Plain hot cocoa close up - Edited
Plain Hot Cocoa
Marshmallow hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
Whipped cream hot cocoa - Edited
Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream

 

Hot cocoa aerial view - Edited
Hot Cocoa with All the Fixings

I hope you enjoy this homemade hot cocoa with your loved ones, and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Bake like a boss this holiday season

One of my favorite childhood memories at Christmas is making homemade sugar and gingerbread cookies with my mom and sister each year. The house would be filled with this heavenly aroma of sugary sweetness, and my sister and I would get to apply our inner art skills with joy and grace to every cookie we decorated. Not only do you get to create memories that can last a lifetime when doing your holiday baking, you also get to enjoy the deliciousness that each cookie has to offer. The only downside, there’s a reason why Santa’s waistband is so grandiose. You can’t eat copious amounts of cookies without adding a little extra junk to your trunk.

That’s why this weeks post will give you some ideas on how to bake like a boss this holiday season by cutting the calories in your cookies and other baked goods without compromising their taste.

Christmas baking

Tip 1: Better your brownies

Brownies

Try substituting tofu for half of the fat in your brownie recipe. Now I know many people recoil at the word tofu, but tofu has a neutral taste that is overpowered by the delicious chocolate flavor. In fact, a study done at Idaho State University found that 8 in 10 people liked fudge made with tofu in place of butter. Try substituting pureed silken or soft tofu for half of the fat your brownie recipe calls for. This will cut calories and boost the protein and calcium in your brownies.

You can also reduce the amount of sugar in your brownies by ¼ cup by substituting ⅔ cup of  finely grated fresh beet as recommended by pastry chef Marisa Churchill. The beets will add moisture, natural sweetness, and gives you the opportunity to sneak a little veggie into your brownies.

Tip #2: Keep your cookie portions in check

Cookies

Cookies in sleigh

Cookies up close - EditedUse a smaller portion for your cookies. It may be shocking, but most chocolate chip cookies are 7 times larger than what the USDA recommends for a healthy portion. Making your cookies smaller can help keep your portions in check by reminding you of the appropriate cookie size (use 1 tablespoon to measure out your dough).

Cookie dough

You can also try using 1 cup of mini chocolate chips in exchange for 2 cups of regular chocolate chips. This will cut back  1120 calories and 64 grams of fat but still offer chocolate chips in every bite.

Tip #3 General baking substitutions

White Whole Wheat Flour

A few additional substitutions you can try include substituting all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour. You can substitute the entire flour measurement or even just try half, if you’d like to ease yourself in. White whole wheat flour is lighter than regular whole wheat flour and has a taste that is comparable to all purpose flour. It is a healthier choice because it is a whole grain and will give more fiber to your baked goods.

Applesauce

applesauce - Edited

Using applesauce as a substitution for fat is another great option. Cut the butter in your baking recipe by half and substitute the remainder with  unsweetened applesauce. This will cut the total amount of calories and saturated fat in your recipe, but still keep your baked good tasting delicious.

butter and applesauce

Reduce Sugar

The final general substitution you can make is reducing the sugar in the recipe by 25%. You can generally cut down the sugar by this amount without compromising or changing the taste of your dish. For example if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can try cutting it down to ¾ C instead.  

I hope these baking tips and substitutions have given you some new inspiration and healthier (but still tasty) alternatives to your holiday baking this year. Comment and like below and don’t forget to share what substitutions you try and which ones work best for you.

Royally yours,

The Diet Duchess

Cyber Monday: 5 handy health and fitness gifts to give this holiday

Have you ever felt overwhelmed at the very thought of all the holiday shopping you still have left to do? I know I have.The holidays are filled with fun, joy, and laughter, but also a lot of the time, STRESS!! To help simplify your shopping list this year, and to help save time and money from mailing your Christmas presents at the post office, here are five great health and fitness inspired gifts to get for your loved ones……or even add to your own Christmas wish list.

  1. The Fitbit Alta HR

This activity tracker can monitor your heart rate and measure how many calories you burn each day. Use the different zones (fat burn, cardio, and peak) to match your workout intensity with your fitness and weight loss goals. Track your daily steps and minutes of physical activity. Use this tracker to help you stay motivated in your fitness.

2. Wii fit game with balance board

The Wii fit game (Wii console sold separately) is a great and fun way to get your kids active at home under the guise of playing a video game. It’s a clever way to make fitness more fun for your kids using a medium they already enjoy. A sedentary lifestyle has been one of the big contributors to the obesity epidemic for both adults and children. Get your whole family active this holiday season with the Wii fit.

3. Stainless steel insulated water bottle

I love stainless steel insulated water bottles because they do such a fabulous job of keeping your water cool and refreshing. If you or your loved one have been trying to drink more water or know that you need to, this is a great gift idea. Regardless of the beverage you’ll be putting in the water bottle, it has the capability of keeping cold beverages cold for 24 hours and hot beverages hot for 12 hours. Trust me, after using one of these, you will never want to go back to a regular water bottle.

4.  Instant pot and cookbook

This newly popular device actually features 7 kitchen appliances in 1 including: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker and warmer, saute, and steamer. This is a great way to cook healthy at home meals 70 percent faster to help simplify your already busy lifestyle. You can even cook some dishes by simply adding ingredients to the pot and pushing the appropriate feature (for example- soup, rice, meat/stew, and poultry to name a few). Use the cookbook to try fast, easy, and healthy recipes at home.

5. Air Fryer

The air fryer is a kitchen appliance that fries food with 75 percent less fat than a deep fryer.  Fried foods should be eaten less often due to the higher calorie and saturated fat content, however it’s possible to enjoy fried foods every once in a while and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. Use the air fryer to enjoy warm and crispy french fries straight from your home without the worry of getting off track with your weight loss goals.

I hope this week’s post will make your holiday shopping a little easier and healthier. If you enjoyed this week’s post, please comment and like below.

Until next week,

The Diet Duchess

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