This post is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Intentional nourishment is really needed as the weather gets worse and commitments amp up to a peak for the holidays. Otherwise, I find I get so engaged in work and Christmas activities that I subsist completely on sugar cookies, caffeine and fizzy cocktails for a month. Weekday meal planning only becomes more important to me when things get busier, as does keeping a thoughtfully-curated pantry, a stocked freezer and a crisper drawer populated by at least one leafy vegetable more than I think I’ll need.
I don’t worry about what not to eat (I see you, Gingerbread Man, come on over here to mama), but I do put more thought about what to add. Green smoothies and hearty winter salads get rotated in more regularly to maintain some semblance of balance. Gotta incorporate some healthy recipes and snacks into the meal plan to keep the all-day strength and energy required for chasing a preschooler and a toddler hopped up on candy canes and Santa Claus. I just discovered this trove of protein-packed recipes on the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada website that fit the bill perfectly. HELLO, Ricotta Chicken Masala and Spiced Yogurt Chicken Tikka. Clearly they speak my love language.
And speaking of intentional, I try to take some holiday self-care time to mindfully enjoy December (rather than having it pulled out from under me like a rug) so that I come out the other end feeling serene and strong, like I got the most out of the season, rather than being frazzled and exhausted with a residual sugar-twitch. For me, holiday self-care means candles, cozy novels, warm socks, the Rat Pack, general hygge, and saying no to things sometimes so that the calendar doesn’t become a cohesive mass of commitments (the last one is the hardest because I genuinely want to do ALL the things.)
This hot chocolate recipe is cozy and warming, perfectly December, and advances both goals of nourishment and intentional mindful moments. It’s sweet and cozy, but quietly offers some respite from the Christmas-party mini-cheesecake rush. It contains just a few wholesome ingredients.
Unsweetened cocoa powder and dates are blended with milk until frothy and the drink is gently warmed to simmering hot over the stove. Dates add a luscious caramel undertone and lend a bit more body. Vanilla and a pinch of salt round out the flavours (don’t leave out either). A hot milk drink is not only incredibly comforting, but it is also wonderfully rich in protein to keep you strong for spontaneous dance breaks when your holiday jam comes on. (Please click that last link, it may be all the sugar cookies but I seriously can’t stop laughing. And I’m pretty sure she stole my moves.)
Healthier Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 pitted dates
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Combine the milk, cocoa powder, dates, and salt in a blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 40 seconds. Transfer to a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until steaming. Remove from heat, then stir in the vanilla extract.