Callie’s Cabin: Chocolate love for winter blues (Recipe) |

Callie’s Cabin: Chocolate love for winter blues (Recipe)

Cal Orey / Special to the Tribune
Homemade hot chocolate with mini marshmallow in a blue mug.
Getty Images | iStockphoto

Hot chocolate is thought of as a longtime, popular drink for pleasure for all ages. Medical researchers are discovering that hot chocolate boosts good health and well-being, thanks to the disease-fighting antioxidants in the cocoa.

One day after swimming at our local pool I frequent, I treated myself to hot chocolate. I ordered a cup of what I thought would contain milk, but was surprised that it was a European type with water and a thick texture. I can’t say I didn’t like it, but I can say it was different, and as an American I was surprised.

Sure, cocoa and dark chocolate, from bars to chips, contain health-promoting nutrients, including flavonoids, powerful disease fighters that may help to fight seasonal allergies and viruses. But chocolate’s mood enhancers are the good stuff.

Think caffeine: This ingredient has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system and provides both a boost of mental and physical energy. Its PEA, a brain chemical can increase the feelings of excitement. It has been called the “love drug” because it can mimic feelings of falling in love. But chocolate can do so much more.

Chocolate Healing Secrets

COLDS: Suffering from a runny nose, nasal congestion, cough? You may have a common cold. Drink plenty of fluids, wash your hands, eat right, and treat yourself to chocolate. Chocolate Rx: Eat two dark chocolate truffles infused with immunity-enhancing green tea. Flavonoids, which both chocolate and tea contains, have antiviral and antibacterial activity. Pair the truffles with a cup of black or herbal tea for a double dose of antioxidants.

MOODINESS: Both men and women can fall victim to mood swings, which can be caused by daily stressors to out of whack hormones. Chocolate Rx: Try eating a small dark chocolate muffin or biscotti. The serotonin (a brain chemical that can make you feel happier) may help lift your spirits so you’ll not be such a crab.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER: Forget the hormonal thing—it may be a seasonal hang-up called SAD. It’s February, and you find yourself with unwanted winter body fat, and fed up with the short days, colder nights. Chocolate Rx: Try a cup of hot cocoa. I recommend the dark 70% cocoa content. It’s not the cure-all for SAD, but the feel-good mood boosters can help you become energized again. Plus, it won’t pack on tons of calories yet will satisfy your sweet cravings.

Speaking of cocoa, this recipe is inspired by hosting a chocolate webinar this week. While brushing up on the healing powers of chocolate I caved. Here is my version of homemade hot chocolate with a Mediterranean twist.

Hot Chocolate

3/4 cup organic low-fat chocolate milk

½ cup organic half-and-half

¼ cup chocolate chips, melted (use dark 70% cocoa content)


Peppermint or cinnamon sticks (for garnish)

Fresh mint (optional)

In a saucepan, heat milk and half-and-half. Do not boil. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in the microwave (watch closely so they don’t burn) and stir into milk mixture. You can also drop chips into the milk mixture in the pan, stir until melted. Both methods do the double chocolate trick. Pour hot cocoa into mug. Top with marshmallows for the Tahoe snowish thrill of it. Serves 1. For more flavor, add a peppermint or cinnamon stick. Or you can grate chocolate chips for shavings.

This week, as I savored a cup of this American version of European hot cocoa, I recalled when writing the book on chocolate. It was amazing to receive boxes of chocolate truffles, bars, brownies, and muffins on the cabin doorstep.

I learned how to make cranberry scones, ciabatta slices, with dark chocolate and olive oil to cocoa pasta and a rosemary-infused chocolate fudge cake. Most memorable is when I went to Reno for a spa treatment called Chocolate Silk Hydrotherapy Bath. It was in a Jacuzzi-style bathtub full of bubbling water with a chocolate scent.

Yes, there is a chocolate heaven. Marshmallows with your cocoa?

–Adapted from The Healing Powers of Chocolate by Cal Orey

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, and Essential Oils) published by Kensington. Her website is

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