Lately I’ve been reducing my caffeine intake and reaching for this dreamy, creamy, adaptogenic hot chocolate. Why? Caffeine tends to exacerbate anxiety — which so many of us experience — and it can also increase cortisol, which I’m always trying to monitor and soothe.
Admittedly, this drink isn’t for everyone. It requires a handful of adaptogens, which can be a bit of an investment. However, I figured I’d go ahead and share as I’ve been drinking and enjoying it daily. I especially love how it’s replaced my morning dose of caffeine with delicious chocolate flavor and good, chill vibes.
Let’s do this!
What is an Adaptogen?
Good question, and something I wondered about myself up until a few years ago.
An adaptogen is a plant (usually an herb, root, or mushroom) that helps your body adapt to stress (whether physical, chemical, or biological).
This is the prime reason I began reaching for adaptogens years ago after enduring a few serious bouts of stress and anxiety.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting adaptogens replace stress reduction practices like yoga, walking, deep breathing, being outdoors, therapy, etc. But what they can do is help your body take the edge off when you’re experiencing stress. In this way, I see them as a bit of a stress sidekick.
I’ve personally found adaptogens to be most helpful when I’ve paired them with other daily rituals like reducing caffeine, eating balanced meals, yoga, walking, meditation, and journaling.
What Do Adaptogens Taste Like?
All adaptogens taste different (and they can taste different to different people depending on their palettes). But in my experience, adaptogens in general tend to not be the most enjoyable in terms of flavor, which is why mixing them with other things like sweeteners or nut butters or cacao powder makes them more palatable.
Which Adaptogens To Try First?
While I’m not an adaptogen expert, I have been taking them for years with good results. And if I had to choose, these are the three adaptogens I’d suggest getting started with as they’re more widely available and relatively easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Ashwagandha – An herb widely used in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) that’s become most well known for its ability to help our bodies adapt to stress and potentially lower cortisol. It has a slightly bitter taste. Best for adding to smoothies or hot chocolate in small doses (we don’t usually exceed 1/2 – 1 tsp per serving).
- Maca – A root vegetable grown in the Andes with serious health benefits for everything from boosting libido to balancing hormones to increasing energy levels. It has a malty, almost caramel-like flavor, making it easier to enjoy. We love it in smoothies, hot chocolate, energy bites, and shakes (we don’t usually exceed 1 – 2 tsp per serving).
- Reishi Mushroom – Also known as the Queen of Mushrooms, reishi is especially good for helping our bodies relax and chill out during times of stress. It’s also relatively neutral in flavor and pairs especially well with things like Mushroom Coffee and this hot chocolate (we don’t usually exceed 1 tsp per serving).
In this recipe, I also use an adaptogen called He Shou Wu (a.k.a. Fo-Ti), which has been claimed to improve the health of hair, skin, and nails — something I’m always trying to support. It’s a less common adaptogen with a pretty bitter taste, so I use it sparingly and in lesser quantities (usually 1/4 – 1/2 tsp per serving).
We hope you LOVE this adaptogenic hot chocolate! It’s:
- Low caffeine
- & Super delicious
If you don’t have all of the adaptogens listed, feel free to play around with what you have. It’s fairly forgiving and versatile as long as you start with small quantities of the adaptogens and work your way up. Plus, additional sweetener and/or cacao can usually remedy a too-bitter drink.
More Cozy Drinks
- 5-Minute Vegan Golden Milk
- 5-Minute Mushroom Latte (2 Ways)
- Healing 3-Ingredient Ginger Lemon Turmeric Tonic
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate (5 Minutes, Low Sugar)
Low caffeine, low sugar hot chocolate with raw cacao and adaptogens including reishi mushroom, maca, ashwagandha, and he shou wu. The perfect cozy beverage to replace coffee or matcha in the morning, or to wind down with in the evening.
- 10 ounces very hot water (or sub favorite dairy-free milk)
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- 1/2 tsp Ashwagandha
- 1 tsp Reishi mushroom powder
- 1 tsp Maca
- 1 tsp coconut butter (or sub store-bought)
- 1 Tbsp Tocos (a.k.a. rice bran solubles* // if using dairy-free milk, omit)
- Sweetener of choice (we love stevia, maple syrup, raw honey to taste)
- 1/4 tsp He shou wu (optional)
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1 scoop collagen* (optional // see notes for vegan option)
To a high-speed blender (or small blender), add hot water (or dairy-free milk), cacao powder, ashwagandha, reishi, maca, coconut butter, tocos, and sweetener of choice (we prefer stevia to taste). Add he shou wu, cinnamon, and collagen at this time as well (all optional). Note: If using dairy-free milk in place of water, you can opt to skip the tocos and coconut butter as they're largely there to provide creaminess.
Blend on high until creamy and frothy — about 1 minute. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more sweetener to taste, cacao for rich chocolate flavor, maca for malty flavor, or coconut butter for coconut flavor / butteriness. The adaptogens / mushrooms can be a bit on the bitter side; adding more coconut butter, cacao, and sweetener will offset this.
Serve and enjoy immediately. You can also make this in a big batch for the week and reheat throughout the week as needed either on the stovetop in a saucepan, or in our go-to milk frother. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days (though best when fresh). Not freezer friendly.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.
*In this recipe, tocos (rice bran solubles) largely replace dairy-free milk as it acts like a milk powder when blended with water. However, if using dairy-free milk in place of water, it (along with the coconut butter) can be omitted. Also, some readers have commented about potential arsenic risk with tocos, so use your own judgement and exercise caution if consuming daily (I’d say leave it out if you’re concerned).
*If you don’t have all of the adaptogens listed, feel free to play around with what you have. This recipe’s fairly forgiving and versatile as long as you start with small quantities of the adaptogens and work your way up. Plus, additional sweetener and/or cacao can usually remedy a too-bitter drink.
*Collagen is something we add for a little protein. If vegan, we love this vegan collagen from Moon Juice.
Nutrition Per Serving (1 of 1 serving)
- Calories: 183
- Fat: 8.8g
- Saturated fat: 3.3g
- Potassium: 466mg
- Carbohydrates: 22.7g
- Fiber: 4g
- Sugar: 3.3g
- Protein: 4g
- Iron: 1.26mg