I’m going to start out this post with yummy and healthier recipes for chocolate syrup, and for homemade hot cocoa mix. If you are interested in why I choose to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and make these items myself, I’ll include that below. I thought some of you may think that two posts in a row from my soap box is too many.
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I use organic because at least 30 pesticides are used in the growing of cocoa
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 tsp vanilla
There are numerous recipes out there, this is one I developed myself. Blend together first 3 ingredients and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil, careful to not boil over. Boil for 1 minute, and then remove from heat to cool. When cool add the vanilla. This makes a syrup a little thinner than the store bought, but it tastes very good and the kids love being able to have it again. Maybe boiling it a little longer would make it thicker.
When we go camping, we love to drink hot cocoa around the campfire in the evenings. I was able to find hot cocoa mix at the grocery store without HFCS, but I could not find any without hydrogenated oil in it. I’m not sure why the heck hot cocoa NEEDS hydrogenated oil in it, yuck! I could have bought some at the health food store, but it is very expensive, and I didn’t want to make another trip. So I found this recipe online Link to recipe
Hot Cocoa Mix
3 cups dry milk powder
1/2 cup organic cocoa
1 cup of organic cane sugar
Dash of salt
Mix together and store in an air tight container. To use: Stir 3 heaping teaspoons of mix to 1/2 of hot water, or to your personal taste. I didn’t have powdered milk, so I mixed the last 3 ingredients, and brought regular milk, heated it and stirred in the, milk free powdered mix. The kids liked it, I felt it was a little too sweet for my taste, and think next time I would use less sugar or maybe more cocoa.
Ok, the rest of the story…
I have mentioned before that few years ago I removed high fructose corn syrup from our diet. Well I have removed most of it, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid if you eat out or eat anything out of a package, which we try not to do very often. It was one of the first big changes we made to our diet, and there have been many more to come. When one of my teenagers had borderline high cholesterol and LDL and elevated liver enzymes, our pediatrician gave us the advice to avoid HFCS. When most people think of high cholesterol, they dont think of the sugar in their diet, they probably think of red meat and eggs, but the truth is a high sugar diet, is a high fat diet. It is, really! Watch the video I talk about below to learn more about this. The following year, all of the labs were within the normal range.
The video “Sugar the Bitter Truth” is from the University of California Television and the lecture is by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology. The video is offered on UCTV and YouTube, if you have a slow connection like mine, the youtube one can be paused and load before you watch it, the UCTV one is streamed live and kept stopping. It is a wonderful video about sugar and HFCS, ok so there are a couple parts of it where your eyes will glaze over because of a chemical reaction discussion, and to be fair, I’ll let you know up front the video is 90 minutes long, but it is worth the time investment, and is really eye opening.
Another reason to avoid HFCS is that it is made from genetically modified corn. Here is a short (2.5 minute) video, which gives us some good reasons to think about whether GMO's are safe and if we should be eating them. (Sorry no matter what I do that link doesn't work. When you get to the page not found message, type in the search box "double dipping danger" and can locate the video that way.
There is a lot of advertising out there trying to get us to believe that our bodies can’t tell the difference between HFCS and regular sugar, but Here is a link to a Princeton study that shows that shows higher rates of obesity in rats fed HFCS in concentrations lower than soda, compared to rats fed table sugar, even with equal calorie levels. (Thanks to my friend Madeline who posted the GMO video and Princeton study on her facebook page so I could steal them for here).
Finally, if you are as annoyed as I am by those corn syrup commercials, this Saturday Night Live spoof will give you a laugh.
Avoiding HFCS is only part of the story, regular table sugar is 1/2 glucose and 1/2 fructose, so it in excess can have the very same results, and here in America, we are eating a staggering amount of sugar annually. So my kids don't often get juice and they don't get chocolate in every cup of milk. I believe in moderation, and sometimes on special occasions we get these treats. Ok, that ends my soap box post for the week.