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  • SeattleCancerNutrition

Single Serving Vegan Hot Chocolate

Cocoa-powder contains powerful antioxidants known as flavonoids and is anti-inflammatory. The benefits of cocoa make it a good addition to a cancer-protective diet. What better way to enjoy chocolate than hot chocolate?

Though you can drink hot chocolate any time of year, your cravings are probably going to start right around late October and continue on through the end of February. Hot chocolate is right up there at the level of pumpkin spice lattes as far as comfort drinks go but you know me – dietitian – I want to have a delicious AND healthy option that I can whip up quickly at home. This Single Serving Vegan Hot Chocolate is definitely the answer.

I know that sometimes, when you’re going through cancer treatment, ‘sugar’ can be a source of confusion and fear. I am definitely a fan of ‘low glycemic’ diets which means you’re mostly eating foods that do not raise your blood sugars rapidly. Recipes like this give you the best of both worlds - a little bit of sweet if you’re craving it but in a way that’s not going to have a high amount of added sugars. Does it make sense to avoid carbohydrates completely? I’d say no - carbohydrate-containing foods come along with critical nutrients that your body needs during treatment like fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There’s usually no need at all to restrict whole grains, starchy veggies or fruit and for most people, there will be wiggle room for a low-sugar treat here and there. I work with my clients to better understand how their diets affect health markers all the time. If you have questions about what this looks like for you, please make sure to reach out.

Or you could make your own at home very easily.

Why Soy Milk?

No, soy isn’t bad for you. The research clearly shows that it’s beneficial for heart health, bone health and has anti-cancer properties. It’s safe for men, women, and children. It’s safe for those with cancer or in recovery. I work with soy milk very often because it has a similar nutritional profile to dairy milk as far as calories, protein and fat unlike other plant-based milks like almond, coconut and rice which have little to no protein. Why are we concerned about protein? In short, it’s a building block for the body and it plays a key role in our immune system function.

If you prefer using dairy or another type of plant-based milk, absolutely go ahead. I do suggest choosing an unsweetened variety so that you’re not getting excess added sugars in the recipe.

Why Maple syrup?

There are a lot of ways to sweeten a drink like hot cocoa and in my personal opinion, it’s often done in excess. I saw some recipes calling for a 1/4 cup of sugar and that’s just way too much. The way that I work with salt and sugar in my recipes is to use as little as possible – often too little – and then taste as I move up from there. I also lean heavily on other flavors to help boost the taste of the food or drink so that I can more easily reduce the sugar or salt. In this case, I was trying to keep the sugar content low so I am relying somewhat on the cocoa but I also added vanilla so it’s got complexity of flavor without only relying on ‘sweet’.

One reason to use a liquid sweetener like maple syrup over sugar is because, sometimes regular sugar doesn’t fully incorporate and it ends up sinking to the bottom, making the last few sips of your drink extra sugary-sweet. Maple syrup is a vegan-friendly way to get that even sweetness with as little syrup as possible in the most natural way possible. Let me know what you think and if this works for you!


  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy or oat milk

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Add the milk to a saucepan and warm over medium heat until it starts to steam.

  2. Add the cocoa, syrup, vanilla, and a small pinch of salt and whisk to combine, heating the ingredients through completely, bringing the mixture to your personal desired temperature.

  3. Enjoy plain or served with plant-based whip or marshmallows.

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