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Delicious, Creamy, Vegan Hot Cocoa Recipe

As bona fide chocolate fiends here at Serena Loves HQ, we take hot cocoa very seriously. There’s nothing more enriching and soul-warming than sipping hot cocoa on a cold day while cuddling with your fur babies. 

You may feel decadent and kinda guilty sipping on this rich treat in the middle of the day, but the truth is, this vegan hot cocoa is not only incredibly satisfying, but it’s also good for your health! Yay! 

And the fact that this is not only a dairy-free hot chocolate recipe but also paleo gets major bonus points!

Cacao – the Amazonian antioxidant king

I find it fascinating that the medicinal uses of cacao or chocolate either as a primary remedy or as a vehicle to deliver medicine originated in Mesoamerica, where it was consumed by indigenous peoples, and diffused to Europe over five centuries ago. 

The most common medical uses of cacao were for inducing weight gain in emaciated patients, stimulating the nervous system, and improving digestion and elimination. 

Raw cacao is different than the chocolate milk or hot cocoa that we grew up with. Cocoa is derived from cacao. And unfortunately, most store-bought cocoa powder has been chemically processed and roasted, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols (the things that keep you young and healthy). 

A recent study suggested that between 60% and 90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through common processing. Originally, the processing of cacao was developed in the early 19th Century to reduce the bitterness, darken the color, and create a more mellow flavor to chocolate, but unfortunately in doing so they eliminated much of the goodness.

Non-organic cocoa (and non-organic chocolate) has also been treated heavily with toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals and may contain genetically modified (GMO) products. And while you may be able to rinse fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides, you clearly cannot “wash” chocolate, you are just straight-up ingesting it. 

If that wasn’t enough, I learned that there are gross injustices in the harvesting and production of cacao. It is estimated that 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, with the Ivory Coast accounting for more than a third of global supply.

According to Fairtrade, the average cocoa farming household in the Ivory Coast is made up of eight people and has an annual income of around $3,000. But Fairtrade’s research concluded the average cocoa farming household should be earning about $7,500 a year to cover their full cost of living.

This is obviously an industry that has gotten away with inhumane production practices, so doing research and purchasing fair-trade cacao is so important. I checked out Fairtrade’s site and found a comprehensive list of excellent chocolatiers we can support in good conscience. 

Raw, organic fairly-traded cacao has so many amazing benefits, so you can add it to your diet with no guilt!


The Benefits Of Cacao Powder is Trending – Here's Why:

Rather than sugarcoat the truth, Women’s Health asked NutriCentre nutritionist, Cassandra Barn, to break down this healthy food trend into bite-size chunks.

First off, what is cacao?

As I mentioned, cacao is the unprocessed chocolate superfood that's turbocharged with magnesium flavanoids, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese to name a few. As raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans these nutritional wins aren't lost during processing.

The benefits of Cacao powder are due to the fact that it contains these four properties: 

  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Flavonoids
  • PEA - Phenylethylamine (PEA for short!). PEA is thought to elevate mood and support energy, and is said to be one of the reasons that many people love chocolate!

Raw cacao is also very low in sugar, and of course does not contain any milk, so is suitable for those who are milk-sensitive or following a low-sugar diet.

If you’re looking for a vegan, dairy-free hot cocoa recipe, this is the chocolate bomb! I guarantee it’s 100% decadent and nutritious to boot. And don’t feel deprived deviating from the traditional cocoa make from milk that you grew up drinking. I make mine with coconut milk for an extra creamy texture and taste and it hits all the right warm and fuzzy notes. 

Ingredients (please use organic ingredients whenever possible):

  • 2 C organic nut milk (almond, cashew, or coconut, preferably homemade)
  • 2 TB  raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp  raw organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder  
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup, grade A (or use 1/8 tsp stevia)


Whisk to combine ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Serve warm.


Combine all ingredients in a blender. Transfer mixture to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Serve warm.

Toppings: coconut whipped cream, shaved dark chocolate, cacao or cocoa dusted on top.

Feel free up the notch by combining our vegan, dairy-free hot cocoa with a chocolate-based facial mask. The same luscious layers of antioxidant flavonoids are just as good for your skin as they are in your tummy.

And in case you didn’t know, December 13th is official Hot Cocoa Day!  That means it is traditionally annual ugly sweater day here at Serena Loves when we celebrate the chocolatey excellence of cacao by treating ourselves to this dairy-free hot chocolate recipe. Of course, you can enjoy it year-round! 

And if you want to try another yummy dairy-free chocolate recipe, try our homemade vegan no-churn chocolate ice cream.

XO - Serena

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