Wednesday, September 21, 2011

0 Recipe #281: Unbelievably Creamy & Delicious, "I-Can't-Believe-It's-Vegan," All Natural, Hot & Spicy, Sugar-Free Cocoa :)

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Although there have been some unexpectedly hot days over the past few weeks, the fall weather trend is finally starting to take hold. Overall, it's been a bit chillier outside, most noticeably in the early in the morning and late at night. And of course, colder weather signals the start of "hot cocoa season" as well. :)

Since I haven't been feeling so hot lately due to a nasty respiratory bug I picked up while on vacation two weeks ago, which I'm still trying to get over (!), I also have to admit that I created this recipe as a fun and much more exciting way to load up on hot fluids and beat this darned thing. :) OK, let's face it: There's only so much herbal tea that one person can take before they go bonkers, er, I mean, go in search of other healthy alternatives. ;) Of course, it's not that fun being sick, and frankly, it can get rather boring too, (and then the restlessness sets in shortly thereafter!). So, in other words, by this point, I'm looking for anything to spice up the routine and break the endless loop of sleeping, nose-blowing, and hacking up lungs. ;) And when one is spending most of one's time sleeping and nursing oneself back to health, hot cocoa is certainly a much needed injection of excitement. :-D

And speaking of liquids: In addition to my lovely daily cocktail of DayQuil, Nyquil, vitamins, and decongestant, (and let's not forget last week's Z-Pak!), which've all been taken to combat all of the associated symptoms, I've also been drinking lots of soup, specifically tortilla soup, which I'd recently made a large amount of and then had frozen the excess. It was really yummy, that is, what little I could actually taste of it. LOL. It's kind of like the Mexican version of chicken noodle soup, except with jalapeños and other veggies to replace the carrots, and corn tortillas to stand in for the noodles. :) Of course, I've created a recipe for this as well, and will get around to posting it at some point, i.e., after I regain my strength and have also had the time to properly edit it. You see, the hot cocoa recipe was a lot easier to whip up in my head (I think it took a mere two minutes ;) ), and was also much less involved to write.

What little time I've actually been awake hasn't exactly been spent writing or moving around a whole lot. I also haven't been going into the kitchen a whole lot either, as my appetite was pretty much shot, that is, until a few days ago, which is an encouraging sign. :) However, I still am coughing way too much and sleeping like it's going out of style. Hence, the screwy sleep schedule and vampire-like hours I've been keeping as of late. (As supporting evidence, please view the insanely early time stamp of this post. I wouldn't normally be up at this hour, at least not if I can help it. LOL.)

These past few days, I've been mostly trying to conserve my energy, and have only shuffled into the kitchen to put the kettle on or dig into the reserve of tortilla soup I made a few days ago when I had a bit more energy. Frankly, right now, I'm so sick of being sick!!!! I'm more than ready to be healthy again, even if my body isn't completely on the same page quite yet. ;)

Anyhow, enough about my situation for the time being and back to the recipe: The really cool thing about this recipe is that, not only is it a tasty alternative to herbal tea, water, and soups, but it actually has healing properties as well: The honey soothes the throat; the cocoa powder stimulates the brain, wards off disease and stress, and elevates one's mood, which is a huge plus one when is not feeling 100% (!); the cayenne pepper has anti-inflammatory properties, protects against colds and infections, and helps to clear one's respiratory passages; and finally, the coconut milk has many immunity-boosting properties (i.e., it contains nutrients which are anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal, not to mention it's also got electrolytes, which are particularly important to replenish when one is sick or has become dehydrated). See, this hot beverage doesn't just taste good; it actually does something to actively help you feel better. :)

Also, on a semi-related note: My latest discovery (as of 2 weeks ago) is Silk (original flavor) coconut milk, which I highly recommend using for this recipe. :) At only 80 calories per cup, it's a very tasty and healthy alternative to regular milk, soy milk, &/or almond milk. It also tastes really wonderful with a wide variety of foods -- from cereal to hot cocoa and beyond. I also love it because it has no dairy in it, (of which I've made a concerted effort to cut down upon over the past 2-3 years, as it's made a huge difference, particularly in terms of my overall energy levels and respiratory health), and also just so happens to have built-in weight control properties as well. :) Please note, no one's paying me to say all of the above, just so you know. :) I truly and honestly love it.

When I was on vacation, I did have a minor amount of dairy, but can't say for sure that this contributed to my current situation, as I'd also not slept very much the night before we left for our vacation. (I was up late packing! Oops.) It probably didn't help that Erik hadn't been feeling well a few days prior. Those germs had clearly already been circulating throughout our household by then, and that in combination with a lack of sleep surely didn't stack the cards in my favor. Of course, sleep is so important for respiratory health and good health in general. It seems that my body is trying to more than make up for that missed sleep now (!) Any more sleep and my cats will start to wonder if I've joined their ranks. ;)

Anyhow, please take care of yourselves and try to stay well, as there seems to be a lot of different bugs going around lately! Hopefully, this drink will help you keep the cooties away. :)


Unbelievably Creamy & Delicious, "I-Can't-Believe-It's-Vegan," All Natural, Hot & Spicy, Sugar-Free Cocoa

When the weather gets colder, nothing is more soothing than a velvety smooth cup of hot cocoa. Making this hot cocoa recipe is easy (and easily just as sweet and delicious) as pie, but infinitely healthier and far less caloric. :) Just what the doctor ordered. :-D A truly yummy guilty pleasure, but without the guilt. And who doesn't love that?!

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. (European-style) Dutch processed cocoa powder*
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper, or to taste (Or leave out completely, if you can't hack the heat ;) )
1/16 tsp. (a pinch of) salt
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 c. water
1 c. Silk (original flavor) coconut milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions: Place cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and honey in the bottom of an extra large tea cup, and stir until the mixture turns into a thick and syrupy consistency. Set aside. Fill a tea kettle with water. Put the tea kettle on, and then boil the water on high until the whistle blows. Measure a 1/2 cup of boiling water in a metal measuring cup, then gingerly pour it into the tea cup. Stir thoroughly until dissolved, wait about a minute or so, then add coconut milk and vanilla. Serve immediately (i.e., while piping hot!) and enjoy. :-D

Yield: 1 serving.

Chef's Notes: *IMPORTANT: Please note that Dutch processed cocoa powder is not the same thing as unsweetened cocoa powder! It doesn't taste the same either (unsweetened cocoa powder is very bitter!), so I strongly recommend that you follow the recipe as directed. :) You've been forewarned, so if you use the unsweetened stuff instead and then start puckering your lips, don't look at me. ;)

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