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Category: Drinks

Homemade Hot Cocoa & Whipped Topping

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Hey all! Sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks. I had on tough quarter at school and was approaching my finals and really need time to study and knock them out. After the quarter was over we went down to Florida to visit some family for the holidays. But I am back and here to give you the hot chocolate recipe I promised on Instagram awhile back.


So it’s that time of the year again, cold weather beware! The other night it got down to single digits in Atlanta. It was a “cover your plants, bring your pets inside, and drip your faucets” freeze warning. To those of you that are northerners that might make you giggle a little because you have already received snowfall and have been bundled up for a few months now. No matter where you live or whether winter has already kissed your city or not I declare it is a good time for homemade hot cocoa. As a bonus I’m including a recipe for homemade whipped topping too!


Homemade Hot Cocoa 2

As soon as the weather drops a few degrees and we decide to turn the heat on, my kids’ first request is for hot cocoa. They absolutely love homemade hot cocoa over store bought and this new recipe I made had them head over heels. I think it might have been the whipped topping! Either way it was a hit in the Claiborne house and one that will be repeated many times this winter.

Homemade Hot Cocoa 3

Hot Cocoa


4 C milk (or any milk substitute of your choice)

1 C cocoa powder

1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 coconut sugar

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1/2 Tsp cinnamon


1. Heat a medium size saucepan on medium-low heat. Place milk, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and coconut sugar into the pan. With a whisk slowly stir the pot continuously making sure the milk does not burn on the bottom. Note: you could use a double boiler if you have one but it is not necessary.

2. When all the chocolate chips have melted into the milk place the vanilla and cinnamon in. Continue to stir for a minute or so. Serve immediately.

Whipped Topping


1 C heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Add ingredients to a bowl and with a hand mixer, mixed until you see the mixture thicken and have stiff peeks. Note: Many people use a standing mixer, so if you have one you can use that. For those of you out there who have yet to drop a few hundred on a standing mixed, using a hand mixer works just fine.

This is a basic hot cocoa and whipped topping recipe but I am experimenting with different flavors to add so make sure to stay tune. Let me know how you and your family like this one or if you have any flavor ideas you would like to see.

Homemade Hot Cocoa 4

Homemade Almond Milk

Like many others my husband is lactose intolerant. Though he isn’t a big milk drinker to begin with I would buy almond milk for him from time to time. Now I’m not dairy free or lactose intolerant but I do love to enjoy a nice cold glass of almond milk in the morning. I also enjoy it in my coffee because it adds a little nutty flavor. Sometimes we would enjoy a tall glass of vanilla almond milk after dinner because the sweet creamy drink would satisfy our craving for dessert. The kids on the other hand didn’t like it so much. I tried buying different brands but they never seemed to get into it.

I continued to buy it for my husband and I.  That is until I became more aware of the ingredients in products. Have you ever looked at the ingredients of store bought almond milk? Even the organic brands have quite a list. One common ingredient in most almond milks is carrageenan, which is a food additive that is derived from red seaweed and is used as a stabilizer. Because it is made from seaweed it is considered a natural additive but there has been some controversy over whether it is safe or not. Some scientists say it can cause inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding. That’s not very appetizing, is it?

After learning this I started looking into making my own almond milk. I found it to be extremely easy and the taste was 100% better than store bought! The kids even like it. That’s right, they drink it up like crazy.

So how easy is it? Well take a look.

AlmondMilk1All you need is some almond, dates, vanilla extract, salt and water. Really, That is it!

AlmondMilk2The first step is to soak the almonds overnight. I have had a lot of people ask me why is there a need to soak the almonds. Well there are a few reasons. First reason is that almonds naturally have a type of tannin called tannic acid. Tannic acid is stored in the brown skin of the almond and helps protect the nut from pest, sunlight, and other harmful elements. Tannic acid, when digested by humans, can interfere with the amount of iron the body absorbs. Soaking almonds helps release the tannic acid and you simply rinse them away. Another reason is that soaking will help your body digest the almonds better.

AlmondMilk3After the almonds have soaked overnight they will become plump and tender. Drain the water and give them a good rinse.


AlmondMilk4After you rinse the almond good you can place them in a blender. No need for a fancy $500 Vitamix. I have a regular $30 blender and it works great for this. Add 3 cups of filtered water and 2-3 pitted dates. Turn the blender on the highest speed and run it till the water becomes milky and the almond become very fine. Take a container, place a strainer over the opening, and a nut milk bag over the strainer. I use this nut milk bag here. Pour the almond milk into the nut milk bag and strain the liquid. Sorry I forgot to include a blender and strainer picture.

AlmondMilk5When you are done  straining add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the almond milk and save the almond pulp for later use in recipes. You could dry it out and you will have your own almond meal or almond flour.

See, I told you it was easy. I encourage you to make your own and taste the difference too. There really is no comparison. I will never buy almond milk from a store again.


1 c of whole almonds, raw

3 c of filtered water (and more to soak)

2-3 pitted dates

1 Tbsp of vanilla extract

a pinch of salt


1. Soak the almond overnight. When ready drain and rinse.

2. Add almonds, water, and dates to a blender. Turn blender to highest setting and run for a few minutes. Water will become milky and almonds will be broken down to very fine pieces.

3. Take a container; place a strainer over the opening and a nut milk bag over the strainer. Pour almond milk into the nut milk bag and strain the liquid out.

4. Once strained add vanilla and salt to the almond milk. Use the almond pulp for recipes or dry out it out for homemade almond meal.

Pineapple Smoothie

The other day I picked up my normally energetic and vibrant four-year-old daughter from school and found that she was irritable and sleepy. We had to stop by the grocery store and she even asked to sit in the cart. For an independent preschooler who makes it a point to proclaim her break from being the baby every chance she gets I knew that this was a sign of something unpleasant. Later that night she started to run a fever and by the morning she was complaining of a sore throat. We naturally kept her home but due to no redness in her throat decided to wait another day before heading to the doctor. When night fell her fever rose, but we were able to get it to come down and save us a trip to the after hours clinic. Bright and early the next morning we were the first in the parking lot at the doctor’s office. After an exam and some testing they delivered the dread diagnoses of strep throat.

I knew in my heart that it was strep from the beginning but I was really, really hoping it wasn’t. I recognized that this ment. I was going to have a battle with my very affectionate little munchkins when I explained to her that she would have to stay in her bed, away from the rest of the family, quarantined. I also had to make it very clear that she could not drink out of any of our cups and explain to her older brother that he would not be able to eat the rest of her dinner that she often leaves on her plate. Separating my children from one another is extremely disheartening.

The fight was not as difficult as I expected. The tasty “pink” medicine, a new Barbie toothbrush, a couple of jars of organic pineapple juice and some fresh fruit brought cheer to the gloomy situation.

So you might be wondering why pineapple juice. The go to juice for when someone is sick is orange juice, right? Well, because of the vitamin C content in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons they do make a wonderful choice for someone who needs to boost their immune system to fight off a cold. But my princess didn’t have a cold. She had strep. And with strep she had a sore, raw, and swollen throat. This was a job for pineapple.

Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelian that  have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes them a powerful natural treatment for sore and irritated throats. And guess what? Pineapples contain vitamin C as well, so that allows it to play double duty! Isn’t that wonderful?

Drinking straight pineapple juice is fantastic and creamy treat but mixing it in a smoothie makes for a tropical delightment. Here is one of my pineapple creations that I made for my daughter to help sooth and comfort her little voice-box and help her get back to her voicetress self.

Pineapple Smoothie

Pineapple Smoothie


1 – 1 1/2 c pineapple juice

1 banana

1 apple

1 c fresh or frozen mango, cut into chunks

1 celery stalk

1 tsp of local honey

1 – 2 Tbsp of chia seeds


1. Place everything in a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

That’s it. Easy as pie… or a smoothie!

What are your go to drinks and foods that help you battle a sore throat?

A refreshing and tropical drink

A refreshing and tropical drink

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