I sit here, sipping one of my favorite winter indulgences: whole wheat toast dipped in mint hot cocoa. I make my cocoa by heating up unsweetened soymilk and stirring in some hot cocoa mix.
The ingredient list for the mint hot cocoa mix I used to buy:
Sugar, Sweet Whey, Maltodextrin, Partially hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Cocoa (processed with alkali), Non-Fat Dry Milk, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Sodium Caseinate, Mono and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Carrageenan.
The ingredient list for the hot cocoa mix I buy now? Much smaller:
Sugar, Natural Cocoa, Ceylon Cinnamon, Vanilla, Peppermint Oil
Um yeah, I’ll pick the one with more cocoa than partially hydrogenated oil, thanks!
For the curious, the old cocoa is Stephen’s brand, which is very popular out west, especially. The new cocoa is made by Penzey’s and I just pick it up across the street.
There is a widespread feeling that healthy food is more expensive. I’m not claiming Penzey’s cocoa is healthy, because hey, it’s hot cocoa. But it certainly is a better choice for health than the alternative. Let’s talk dollars and cents:
Penzey’s is $5.80 for 1 lb of regular cocoa, and $7.35 for 1 lb of mint cocoa. That’s some expensive peppermint oil! Stephen’s is $4.99 for 1 lb of regular and the same for mint (apparently mint “natural and artificial flavor” doesn’t add anything to the cost of production). 😉
But Penzey’s doesn’t have filler of dried milk, so you actually get twice as many servings for the container (26 compared to 13). Of course, that means I have to use milk, instead of just water. I actually have no clue what cow’s milk cost these days, but let’s say $2.50 a gallon because that’s the last sale price I remember. That would make my hot cocoa $.38 per cup, exactly the same as Stephen’s made with water. Same price, and Penzey’s is full of quality ingredients and it lets me go soy instead of cow. Win.
Of course, because I am not a fan of the cow’s milk, I pay $1.50 for a quart of Trader Joe’s unsweetened soymilk, which brings my cocoa fix to $.60 per cup. So I lose the price war, but it’s worth it to me.
(Side note: I don’t know the difference between “natural cocoa” and “cocoa processed with alkali” so that had nothing to do with my decision to switch.)