19 December 2014

Day 8 of our 12 days of Christmas energy saving tips!

On the eighth day of Christmas….

…….Eight maids are milking

Hot and healthy drinks to warm you up and help you stay healthy!

1.  According to a study conducted at Cornell University, the antioxidant concentration in hot cocoa was two to three times stronger than that of green tea and four to five times stronger than that of black tea.

2.  Professor Chang Yong Lee, the leader of the Cornell study, added that the "hot" in "hot chocolate" is important as well. More antioxidants are released when it's heated up.

3.  A cup of hot cocoa contains 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE). The antioxidant gallic acid is used to treat internal hemorrhages, albuminuria (the presence of albumin in the urine, which can indicate kidney disease) and diabetes.

4.  Although a regular bar of chocolate has strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits may be outweighed because of the saturated fats present — cocoa generally has much less fat per serving compared to the 8 grams of fat in a standard chocolate bar.

5.  The flavonoids help your body process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve blood flow, help lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.

6. The flavonoids in hot chocolate also help prevent platelets in your blood from mingling together and forming clots.

7.  According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, drinking hot chocolate can help you think better too. The flavonoids increase the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Since dementia is caused by a reduced flow of blood to the brain, researchers think it could be treated with cocoa.

Traditional Hot Chocolate

This is the only one of the group here that includes chocolate pieces, which as mentioned before creates a beverage with more fat. That said, this recipe will yield a beautiful cup of hot chocolate that will still be better for you than a chemical- and preservative laden cup made from a crummy instant mix. Using the full three ounces of chocolate will yield a very thick drinking chocolate that may be too rich for some, so adjust to your taste.

1 cup milk (or nut milk)
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1-3 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, cut into small pieces

Heat milk to scalding in a medium saucepan, add vanilla, and let steep with the heat off for 10 minutes. Strain and return milk to saucepan to reheat milk. (You can use 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract instead and skip the steeping process.) Whisk in chocolate until melted and frothy. Serve and enjoy.