From fall through early spring, my boy and I love cocoa. When he was wee, I did the cocoa blending and making. By mid-grade school, Finn knew what he liked…and wanted to do it himself. These were years of Great Experimentation. We’ve tried many different brands and blends.

Blendingcocoa

Use a funnel to pour the cocoa blend into your container.

When it comes down to it, making cocoa can be an art, but that doesn’t mean it has to be highfalutin. My favorite blends are usually pretty simple, using what I find at my local grocery store. I like a balance of chocolaty richness mixed with the warm and nutritious nature of baking cocoa. Hershey’s cocoa and Ghirardelli 100 percent cocoa content baking chocolate do the job for me.

Finn says: “I like mine sweet. Very sweet. And chocolatey with just a hint of Mexican spice.”

cocoa-fruit-72862_1280

Cocoa and Chocolate comes from cocoa pods like this one on a tree in Brazil.

Mexican chocolate, Finn’s secret ingredient, is usually in the Mexican or Hispanic aisle of our local groceries and is always available at the mercados. We like Nestle Abuelita brand best.

We always include at least half cocoa in our blends. Cocoa powder is filled with antioxidants, including flavinoids and polyphemols, both of which support heart health, plus cocoa interacts with intestinal flora to reduce inflammation and improve nutrient absorption. Studies show that people who drink cocoa daily are less likely to struggle with obesity and overweight conditions as well as more likely to have improved heart and cardiovascular health. Historically, people as far back as the Mayan civilization have taken cocoa and chocolate to ease stress, promote a relaxed and balanced state of mind, treat heart and circulatory conditions, and heal or improve digestive conditions.

Even though we add sugar and milk to ours, perhaps negating some of cocoa’s positive effects, I reckon cocoa is still a far better choice of beverages than soda, energy drinks, or the many others out there competing for my son’s attention. Cocoa has the added bonus of being an herb he can play with, making and adjusting his own blends and treating his friends to the results.

Recipes to try at Home: