For the holidays, today I am going to share my first recipe with you (more will come!) – for hot cocoa! We’ll call it “Lead-Safe Hot Cocoa” for fun, because the choices I have made specifically keep any potential lead contamination to a minimum [cocoa/chocolate being generally one of the more commonly lead-tainted food items!]
I’ll start with a photo and shopping list (with details at the bottom!)
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Shopping List/ All Things I Use
- Organic Vanilla Extract (I use “Singing Dog” – Sugar Free and Gluten Free)
- Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I use Holy Kakow!)
- Organic Honey (I’ve been using Trader Joe’s)
- Organic Milk (or organic WestSoy unsweetened soy milk – cheaper at Trader Joe’s!)
- Organic Ground Cinnamon (from Simply Organic)
- Natural Vegan Dandies Marshmallows
- Stainless Stovetop Safe Cooking Measuring Pitcher (Norpro – 8 cup)
- Stainless Measuring Cups (mine are Amco & I have had them for nearly 15 years)
- Silicone Spatula (I have the one pictured here and also have KitchenAid ones with bamboo handlies) for mixing – I have a few different ones.
- Lead-Free Plates for setting things on (instead of my leaded-tile counter!) [Cordon Bleu]
- Lead-Free Clear Glass Mugs
- Stainless Spoons & Stainless (or glass!) Straws for the kids
- Ball jars for storing dry-goods (once the bag of cocoa is open!) We store all of our dry-goods in vacuum sealed jars.
In terms of lead-free or lead-safe… the most important thing is the cocoa. If you have seen my film, you know that chocolate is one of the food items with the highest lead levels.
In the creation of chocolate products, lead has the potential to be added at every step in the manufacturing process.
It is for this reason I look for the following qualities is cocoa products (to help ensure the lowest lead content):
- responsibly-sourced (ideally single-source cocoa beans)
- locally (U.S) made (smaller companies have more pride of ownership and accountability)
- locally (and minimally) processed
- single-ingredient cocoa products (cocoa nibs or cocoa powder.)
1. are the one to add the dairy products (or non-dairy substitutes) , the sugar (or alternative sweetener), the vanilla, the salt, and other ingredients that a cocoa manufacturer might otherwise add, then you have control over these items’ sources – and there is less “machine-ing” of the final product. Industrial processing equipment plays a large role in contamination of foods: lead often contaminates processed ingredients due to the wear and tear of leaded-brass machine components (used for their inherent “self-lubricating” quality – a quality needed for machines with lots of moving parts) during manufacturing, so if you limit the products that have been machine-processed (or machine-combined with other ingredients), and
2. use lead-free cookware,
you automatically reduce the potential amount of lead in your finished product.
Cocoa products processed here in the USA are also less likely to have lead contamination from the manufacturing process as machines here are in most cases newer and therefore less likely to have leaded components when compared to older (and even many newer) equivalent machines in Central or South America – or China or Africa for that matter. [There are other low-lead or lead-free choices in my ingredient list, but the post would be too long if I were to go in to it all in full detail. lol!]
How I make my cocoa…well… I don’t bother measuring things too much, actually (I’m a “seat-of-the-pants” baker) so bring an improvisatory attitude – and make adjustments to taste!
- Fill pitcher about 2/3 or 3/4 full with milk (or soymilk, nut or grain milk of your choice) & start warming on LOW flame.
- Warm about 1/4 cup of honey (more or less to taste) and add to milk and stir slowly.
- Add in a about 3/8 of a cup of cocoa (first a full 1/4 cup and mix in and then half of that again if you want it darker)
- Shake in a little salt (maybe a 1/4 teaspoon or less – to taste)
- Add a few shakes of ground organic cinnamon
- Add a splash of vanilla (towards the end of cooking so it doesn’t fully evaporate)… I tend to make my splashes generous – so maybe a teaspoon? Maybe two?
- Stir periodically—and then once it starts getting hot, stir constantly with your spatula (or a stainless whisk if you prefer)
- Remove from heat BEFORE it starts to boil or burn (very important – lol) and wait a few minutes before pouring in to your lead-free glass coffee mugs!
- Add a couple of vegan marshmallows and serve! 😉
- NOTE: My tile kitchen’s tiled counters have tested positive for lead [and we lack the funds to remodel!] so I always set all my ingredients out on a cutting board and then use a lead-free plate next to the stove to set my spatula and measuring cups on while cooking.
I always serve the cocoa at the beginning of a meal (while I am cooking other things)—so the kids are not “starving”/crazy while I am cooking… I know that’s “backwards”, but we do a lot of things backwards around here!
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Please also let me know if you want to see more of this type of post!
Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Mother of Lead Poisoned Kids
Accidental Lead Expert
Note: No one has been editing my posts recently, so please excuse the typos! lol!