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). πŸ˜‰

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.)


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Smaller

  1. Liz says:

    Ooooooh! I had no idea Penzey’s sold hot cocoa mix. Better yet, I realized last week that there is a Penzey’s nearby! I see a date night there in our near future.

    I rid our house of all our Stephen’s hot cocoa a couple of years ago. That ingredient list is appalling.

    I’ve been using unsweetened soy milk, cocoa powder, agave/maple syrup. Sometimes I use coconut milk instead of soy milk for a richer taste. YUM!

    P.S. We caught the rat. Glad that’s over and done with.

    P.P.S. I hope the rat comment didn’t ruin your hot chocolate drinking experience.


  2. beanland says:

    Oh, I meant to mention in the post: The great thing about going simple with your purchases and taste is that it becomes much easier to “do it yourself”!

    In almost all cases, that WILL be more economical than the heavily processed alternative. Great tip, Liz. πŸ™‚


  3. beanland says:

    Woah, wait. Did you say coconut milk? A moment of silence for that genius idea.


  4. Kind of reminds me of a rule I started using when I started eating healthier. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it.

    Drat, no I want Mint Cocoa, and I haven’t had hot cocoa in over 20 months….. time to go rummage.


  5. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    i need to go get some!! trader joe’s stopped carrying mint cocoa this year 😦 so I’ve just been making it w/ cocoa powder, but no mint


  6. lisa (lost pezhead) says:

    we also used to love the hot cocoa the church sold at the cannery….yeah…all hydrogenated.


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