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Maria

Hot Cocoa Mix in a Mason Jar

by Maria on December 20, 2013

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Mason jars are all the rage these days, and I admit, I am a sucker for these thrifty containers. While I have never done any actual canning, I have been saving empty jars and repurposing them for drinking and storage for years.

So I was very excited when I came across this gift idea for hot cocoa mix in a jar on the website Weelicious. I love the simplicity, functionality, and presentation of this gift. What’s more, this gift scores points for nutrition. Unsweetened cocoa powder just happens to be an excellent source of flavanols, a natural type of antioxidant found in certain plants.

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Instructions: Layer in a 16 ounce mason jar with lid: 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, 1 cinnamon stick. When ready to make hot cocoa, simply add mix to a medium saucepan and mix with 8 cups of milk. Simmer until warm and smooth. 

Research suggests that regular consumption of the flavanols found in cocoa may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The good news about cocoa versus other sources of chocolate is that it’s lower in calories. To get 200 milligrams of flavanols you need to consume 1 ¾ tablespoons of cocoa powder (20 calories), 1 ½ ounces of semi-sweet chips (200 calories), or 2 ounces of dark chocolate (320 calories). Forget about trying to get flavanols from milk chocolate—to get the equivalent amount from milk chocolate you would have to eat 1,580 calories worth!

So make yourself some good, old-fashioned hot cocoa. Make it with the milk of your choice, but choose your cocoa carefully. Make sure it’s pure, unsweetened cocoa, and that it has not been Dutch-processed (processed with alkali, which basically takes away almost all flavanols). Because cocoa is naturally a bit bitter on its own, you will need to add a little sugar to sweeten it up when making hot cocoa. Not a hot cocoa fan or looking to keep calories low? You can also sprinkle cocoa into your coffee, oatmeal, or yogurt.

Here is the recipe I generally use when making single servings of hot cocoa for my kids. Of course, now that it’s winter and we are drinking it more often, I think I will mix up a big batch and put it in…you guessed it…a mason jar, for use when we need it. 

Other sweet mason jar gift ideas include filling them with some homemade cookies such as Swedish gingersnaps or a variety of fancy teas. 

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Source: Schardt D. How Bittersweet it Is. Nutrition Action Health Letter, December 2013.

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