Two cups of hot chocolate are shown being picked up by adults and kids.

Well-Rounded Hot Chocolate

Brrr…it’s cold outside! These abnormally chilly temperatures really call for some warm food and drink. Besides enjoying flavorful soups and stews, and piping hot teas, an all-time family favorite has been a big hit lately. As a mother of two small children, hot chocolate has returned into my life in a very pronounced way. Honestly, as an adult I completely forgot about hot chocolate until my oldest requested it. And now, I too love hot chocolate again.


As a dietitian, I always make sure to make my son the best tasting and most nourishing version of hot chocolate I can. No instant packets made with hot water, but rather filling and satisfying hot chocolate that keeps him fueled and his blood sugars more balanced. Balanced blood sugars keep him energized but not wild. One ingredient in my special hot cocoa recipe is definitely unique, adding a yummy, creamy texture and additional protein boost. Gelatin.

Gelatin is traditionally used in cold treats like puddings and jello, as well as pie glazes. It is made from animal bones and cartilage, and is what makes bone broth so special. However, if you add powdered gelatin to hot cocoa, it gives it a very smooth, ultra-creamy texture. Plus, it adds a significant protein boost to help balance the sugar in the hot chocolate. Instant hot chocolate packets are made of only sugar, cocoa powder, and non-fat dried milk powder leading to a low protein to sugar ratio. If you make your own version at home using whole milk, gelatin, cocoa powder, and sugar, you can stay in control of how sweet the hot chocolate is and ensure a good ratio of protein to sugar. This way satisfaction remains high with stable energy and mood.

Per one cup serving, this creamy gelatin hot cocoa contains almost 15g of protein and 29g of carbohydrates (from the sugar and milk), plus 10g of fat. This balance of macronutrients helps keep blood sugars more stable and therefore energy more stable. Alternatively, instant packets with hot water added contain anywhere between 1-3g of protein, 24-34g of carbohydrates, and almost no fat. This combination of macronutrients leads to a blood sugar spike and high energy burst, followed by a crash. If you are outside skiing, hiking, playing, etc., this is fine, but if you are at home or in a car with little physical movement, it is not ideal.

Whether or not you’re a parent, give this rich, creamy recipe a try. I hope it’s as big of a hit in your home as it is in ours. Alternatively, if you have instant hot cocoa packets, use whole milk in place of water and add some gelatin powder.