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Family Meals Matter: Hot cocoa for cold weather

December 19th, 2013 10:15 am by Staff Report

Family Meals Matter: Hot cocoa for cold weather


Cocoa is created from the dried fermented seeds of the cocoa tree. Cocoa, and its special mix of antioxidant flavonoids, has been widely studied for its heart protective effects. Several studies have found that consuming cocoa products can help reduce the formation of plaque that can clog arteries.

Components in cocoa might also help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Learn more about cocoa on our All Star Foods page:

Beyond all these health benefits, cocoa tastes wonderful when sweetened and added to hot milk or with other foods. We’ve assembled some of our favorite cocoa recipes to help you and your family have a healthy celebration. Enjoy a featured family meal of Cocoa Crusted Tenderloin, Panzanella Caprese and Favorite Hot Cocoa. Other cocoa recipes to try this week include Chocolate Chili, Chocolate Ricotta, Chocolate Zucchini Cake and even Cocoa-Banana Pancakes.



Total Preparation Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Number of Servings: 4 (264 calories/serving)

This dish inspired by Costa Rican spices seems exotic, but it uses spices and ingredients you already have around the house: coffee, cocoa and cinnamon. You'll wonder why you've been relegating these flavorings to dessert.


1 tablespoon cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound (16 ounces) pork tenderloin, trimmed of surface fat


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine the spices in a small mixing bowl.

3. Trim fat from pork tenderloin and remove the thin silver tendon that may be running down the center of the loin. Rub the tenderloin with the canola oil. Dust the loin with all of the spice mixture.

4. Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom pan to high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tenderloin in the pan and sear on all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven. (Remember the handle will be hot!)

5. Place the meat on a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice.

— Cook's Notes: Serve with mole sauce.

(Source: Spark People Chef Meg)


Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Number of Servings: 8 (162 calories/serving)


1 (18-inch) piece of baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons drained capers, chopped

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 cup chopped basil


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle.

2. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper in a large 4-sided sheet pan, then spread out in 1 layer. Bake, stirring once, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in vinegar, capers, and remaining 1/3 cup oil.

4. Add croutons to dressing along with tomatoes, onion, mozzarella and basil, then toss. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes:

— For a no-cook option, rub the garlic cloves over the bread, then chop bread into 1 inch cubes instead of heating in a skillet and baking.

— Salad can be made 3 hours ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.



Total Preparation Time: less than 15 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: less than 15 minutes

Number of Servings: 4 (197 calories/serving)

When made with milk, hot cocoa is a delicious and nutritious treat.


1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup hot water

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Mix cocoa, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stir constantly until mixture boils. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Stir in the milk and heat, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla; blend well. Serve immediately.

— Cook's Notes: Nutrition is calculated using fat-free milk. For spicier versions, add grated cinnamon and/or chipotle powder.









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