Eating Vegan

Cold Weather Calls for This Dietitian’s Vegan, Protein-Packed Cashew Butter Hot Cocoa Recipe

Photo: Getty Images/Priszcilla Varga / EyeEm
Curling up on the couch with your favorite blanket and a piping mug of hot chocolate is a whole vibe—one to relish in until the first signs of spring. Now you may think all you need to make hot chocolate is your go-to alternative milk and your cocoa. But if those are the only two ingredients you're using, there's a big chance your drink is going to come out watery—not ideal. The perfect vegan hot chocolate is super creamy and registered dietitian Catherine Perez, RD, recently shared the secret ingredient to achieving this perfect texture. Bonus: It's one that will make your drink even healthier, too.

Her vegan hot chocolate recipe's secret ingredient? Cashew butter. "I've always been a big fan of a thicker hot chocolate consistency. After using cashew butter in a few different chocolate-based desserts and even just seeing how creamy and rich it can make a smoothie, I was very interested to see if it would help elevate my favorite hot chocolate," Perez says. It not only delivered on the texture front, but it tastes delicious paired with the chocolate, too. "The smooth texture adds so much depth to the beverage and dimension to this simple hot chocolate and makes it taste even richer because of all the healthy fats inside," she says. And just like that, you have a velvety protein-packed vegan hot chocolate to savor. As a dietitian, Perez says she loves this hot chocolate recipe because it's full of so many nutrients. "It has a lot of wholesome ingredients that help to provide more fiber, healthy fats, magnesium, and antioxidants while still managing to taste very decadent," she says. "As a dietitian, I always try to focus on adding more of the good stuff where we can, while still getting to indulge in experiences that help to feed us both physically and mentally." Besides alternative milk, cacao powder, vegan chocolate, and cashew butter, her recipe also calls for Medjool dates, cinnamon, and vanilla—all three of which add sweetness without incorporating cane sugar. Before you rush to the kitchen and start whipping up this drink, Perez has a few tips she says it's important to keep in mind. First, she recommends using a runny, natural cashew butter. "This will blend into your beverage a lot better than thicker nut butters," she says. Perez says it's also important to be mindful of the temperature. "Make sure you heat it enough without boiling just to make sure the chocolate melts completely," she explains. But other than that, this recipe is a cinch and only takes a few minutes to make. Keep reading for the recipe.

Perez's delicious vegan hot chocolate recipe

Ingredients 2 1/4 cups unsweetened almond, soy, or oat milk 2 Tbsp cashew butter 2 Tbsp cocoa powder 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 4 soft Medjool dates or 1–2 tbsp maple syrup or sugar 1-ounce square of vegan dark chocolate or 2 Tbsp vegan chocolate chips 1 tsp vanilla extract Pinch of salt, optional 1. Place a saucepan over low medium heat and add in all of your ingredients and allow to warm through and melt the chocolate completely. If using dates, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. 2. Adjust the sweetness based on your preference and then serve.

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