Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate — (aka Stress-busting Hot Cocoa)

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Whether you’re trying to cut back on caffeine or want to nourish your mind and body in a superfood kind off way, this adaptogenic hot chocolate is the perfect drink for you. It’s a great focus boosting morning drink, but it’s also the perfect thing to snuggle up with at the end of your day.

Either way you’re going to love this stress-reducing adaptogenic hot cocoa, and I’ve made it into a mix to make it oh so convenient to make any time you’ve got a craving. Which, if you’re anything like me, I think is going to be often. Yes, I’ve been drinking this a lot.

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What is an Adaptogen?

Adaptogens are natural substances (usually an herb, but they can also be roots, plants, and mushrooms) that help balance your body and manage stress. 

I’ve only included a few adaptogens in this hot chocolate recipe. There are a lot more of them and you could of course add as many as you like to this recipe. Just keep in mind that they can taste a little strong.

Do Adaptogens Taste Good?

Some of them don’t really taste great, but each one is a little different. 

I personally use he shou wu on a daily basis, and use ashwagandha pretty often. I just started using maca again and I’ve tried a number of the adaptogenic mushrooms; reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, duanwood reishi, and more.

I personally don’t mind the taste of any of the mushrooms at all, but ashwagandha has a fairly bitter taste. He shou wu is a little bitter, but not that bad. I love the effects of them, however, so I use them often. I read on one site that adaptogens taste different to different people, but I’m not sure that’s true any more than it is of any other food.

No matter what, the taste of adaptogens is much easier to tolerate when you combine them with other things like sweeteners and chocolate.

I had to do a lot of adjusting with this adaptogenic fudge recipe. It’s got a lot of adaptogen “power”, but also a lot of chocolate and sweetener to mitigate the adaptogen taste.

Not So Healthy Ingredients In Typical Hot Chocolate Mix

In addition to the super nutritious here are lots of reasons to make this healthy hot chocolate to not only replace coffee or matcha, but of course to be a much healthier alternative to store bought hot chocolate mix.

Here are the ingredients in a popular brand:

SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, MODIFIED WHEY, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), HYDROGENATED COCONUT OIL, NONFAT MILK, LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, NATURAL FLAVOR

I think you’ll agree that those ingredients aren’t the best for your body, especially on a daily basis. 

ingredients for adaptogenic hot chocolate.

Ingredients and Benefits

Cocoa Powder
Coconut Sugar
Coconut Milk Powder
Tocos / Rice Bran Solubles – (optional instead of coconut milk powder or as an add-on). Tocos gives lots of creaminess to dairy-free drinks.
Ashwagandha – known as a strong adaptogen, ashwagandha really helps your body adapt to stress. I can feel the difference when I use this. There is some discussion of ashwagandha being helpful even for ADHD. (source and source)
Maca – known to be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective substance (source)
Reishi mushroom – known as the Queen of Mushrooms, reishi is known for supporting the immune system and blood sugar levels (source), amongst other things
He Shou Wu – he shou wu is said to “build the blood” and be super nourishing. There’s an interesting old tale about about 58 year old man who apparently took this herb and lived to be 130. He had a son whom he named He Shou Wu. This son also took it, lived to be 160, and had dark hair when he died. Crazy story for sure!
Lion’s Mane – lion’s mane is known for many mental benefits including the potential to regenerate nerves (source) and for being protect against neurodegenerative disease (source)

adaptogenic hot chocolate in jar.

Serving Suggestions

You can make with this coffee substitute or regular coffee instead of water for more of a mocha taste. Add peppermint extract for a fun Christmas-ey taste. Adding vanilla extract or cinnamon sprinkled on top are great options as well.

For a really fancy options, top with:

whipped cream (I love this with coconut whipped cream)
mini marshmallows
dairy-free chocolate chips or chunks
chocolate shavings
chocolate syrup
or all of the above!

hot chocolate with hot chocolate mix and coconut milk.

Recipe Notes

Neither an immersion blender, a blender, or a high-powered blender is needed, but it will make the ingredients combine more smoothly. I prefer to just stir the mixture to cut down on what I need to clean.

Sweetener options: I personally typically use stevia extract for this recipe as I eat fairly low carb most of the time. If you do that for this recipe, you would want to use 1/8 teaspoon stevia extract and then use about 5 teaspoons of the mix per cup of cocoa.If using honey or maple syrup, use about 5 teaspoons of the mix and add your sweetener after pouring the hot water and milk into the mix.

This recipe is very forgiving and versatile. If you don’t have all of the adaptogens mentioned, or want to use a different combination, feel free. You could, for example, use just plain ashwagandha, or only ashwagandha and reishi mushroom alone. It’s all good.

I recommend that you start slow and ramp up slowly, but don’t worry if you add too much of the adaptogens. You can always add more cocoa, milk, coconut butter, and salt. Those, together with added sweetener will offset the intensity of the adaptogens quite nicely.

Arsenic in Tocos: There are some concerns about tocos having a lot of arsenic since it’s made from brown rice. The brand that I linked to does testing and states results on their Amazon product page stating that their levels were below .002 ppm in their most recent testing.

However, I haven’t verified current testing results. Please use your best judgement about using this product, but I have to say, rice bran solubles are yummy.

healthy hot chocolate in white mug.

More Healthy Drinks

Vegan Eggnog – no eggs in this lovely sugar-free healthy yummy treat
Dairy-free Sugar-free Hot Chocolate – a great healthier alternative to Swiss Miss
Homemade Cranberry Juice (4 Ways) – skip all the sugar and HFCS of the “cocktails” in the stores
Nourishing Coffee Substitute – a great way to cut back on caffeine while nourishing your liver
Adrenal Cocktail – help your body deal with stress and feel better fast
Turmeric Tea – great for inflammation and for normalizing hormones and menstruation too

adaptogenic hot chocolate in white mug.

Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate

This adaptogenic hot chocolate helps with stress as it nourishes adrenals with adaptogens like reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, cacao powder, and maca.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: AIP, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Keto, Low-Carb, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: adaptogenic hot chocolate, adaptogenic hot chocolate mix, mushroom hot chocolate

Ingredients

To Make One Cup of the Hot Chocolate

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free milk
  • whipped cream (or coconut whipped cream, mini marshmallows, dairy-free chocolate chips, chocolate shavings, chocolate syrup optional toppings

Instructions

  • Add all dry ingredients to a bowl.
  • Mix or whisk the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  • Store in an airtight container. 
  • To make one cup of hot chocolate, add a scant 2 tablespoons of the dry mixture to a mug.
  • Add 1/4 cup boiling water and mix to form a paste.
  • Add the rest of the hot water and milk.
  • Mix together, and taste. Adjust flavor as needed. You can add more sweetener, more cocoa or cacao for rich chocolatey flavor. Maca gives a lovely malty flavor, and adding more coconut milk powder or even coconut butter provides more of a coconut flavor. All of these flavors will offset the flavor of the adaptogens.
  • If desired, put the mixture in a blender and blend on high, or use an immersion blender to combine all of the ingredients.
  • Serve and enjoy immediately, topping with whipped cream and any desired toppings.
  • You can also make a large batch for several days and reheat when ready to drink, either on the stovetop in a saucepan. A milk frother will make it lovely and foamy when ready to serve. The hot chocolate keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days. Freezing not recommended.

Notes

Sweetener options: I personally typically use stevia extract for this recipe as I eat fairly low carb most of the time. If you do that for this recipe, you would want to use 1/8 teaspoon stevia extract and then use about 5 teaspoons of the mix per cup of cocoa.
If using honey or maple syrup, use about 5 teaspoons of the mix and add your sweetener after pouring the hot water and milk into the mix.
For AIP: use carob powder instead of cocoa.
Blending Options: Neither an immersion blender, a blender, or a high-powered blender is needed, but it will make the ingredients combine more smoothly. I prefer to just stir the mixture to cut down on what I need to clean.
Adaptogen Portions: This recipe is very forgiving and versatile. If you don’t have all of the adaptogens mentioned, or want to use a different combination, feel free. You could, for example, use just plain ashwagandha, or only ashwagandha and reishi mushroom alone. It’s all good.
I do recommend that you start slow and ramp up slowly, but don’t worry if you add too much of the adaptogens. You can always add more cocoa, milk, coconut butter, and salt. Those, together with added sweetener will offset the intensity of the adaptogens quite nicely.
Tocos / Rice Bran Solubles Note: Tocos gives a lovely creamy feel and flavor to this drink mix. If you are using coconut milk powder, you won’t need it, but you can always add it to the finished drink since it tastes amazing.
Arsenic in Tocos: There are some concerns about tocos having a lot of arsenic since it’s made from brown rice. The brand that I linked to does testing and states results on their Amazon produt page stating that their levels were below .002 ppm in their most recent testing. However, I haven’t verified current testing results. Please use your best judgement about using this product.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

I’d love to hear what you think about this drink and if you’ve used adaptogens and how they’ve worked for you. Please leave a comment and let me know.

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4 Comments

  1. Confusion: From the post:
    “To Make One Cup of the Hot Chocolate
    3/4 cup boiling water
    1/2 cup dairy-free milk”

    “To make one cup of hot chocolate, add a scant 2 tablespoons of the dry mixture to a mug.

    Add 1/4 cup boiling water and mix to form a paste.
Add the rest of the hot water and milk.
“

    Which is correct?

  2. I‘m diabetic, and rice is one thing that shoots my blood sugar up! Can I substitute with something else low/no carb?