Monday, 13 February 2012

Winter Warmers

Brr! It's been so chilly this week! I don't know if you've woken up to snow at all, but we certainly have. I love snow - watching it fall; walking in it; playing in it. When I come back in from the snowy cold, I don't know about you, but I really need a hot drink to warm me back up again. As I watched my husband put on the kettle and reach for his instant hot chocolate sachet, the other day, I felt rather envious - thinking how much I would like to do the same (last year, before my other intolerances became apparent, I used to heat up some chocolate Oatly instead)

It brought back to mind those times as a child, when we'd been out to play in the snow. When we came back in again, our fingers all numb and tingly, my mum would make us hot chocolate (the old-fashioned way) by warming up a pan of hot milk and stirring in some cocoa powder. Then it hit me - surely I had a tin of cocoa* somewhere in the back of my cupboard? And I knew I had a carton of coconut milk on hand, just in case of an 'emergency'. 

Well probably most of you will have got there before me and already made your hot chocolate this way, but I've got so used to living without milk that I don't think of using even the available substitutes that often. I gave up eating cereal, when I became intolerant to wheat and corn and gave up trying anything in my tea or coffee fairly early on as I didn't like rice milk (was advised against it anyway, as I was breastfeeding) and couldn't have soya. At that time I hadn't discovered coconut milk or any of the others, so just got used to living without it. Not being the most adventurous cook in the world, mostly my milk substitutes just sit in the cupboard... waiting. Now at last I had found something to try with my milk substitutes... Hot Chocolate!!

Of course when you're dairy free it's not instant, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out altogether!! If you've not tried it before, it's fairly simple...

Step 1 Grab yourself a pan from the cupboard, and put it on the stove. Measure out a cup of your preferred milk substitute (mine'll be coconut) and pour it in the pan. Get a gentle heat going under your pan, whilst you...

Step 2 Dig that good old-fashioned drinking cocoa out of the back of the cupboard and measure the required amount of teaspoonfuls into your favourite mug (mine already has sugar added in, but you might need to add sugar to yours).

Step 3 Some cocoa powders advise you to mix your cocoa powder with some cold milk first. Once the rest of the milk is heated up, pour it carefully into your mug and stir like fury! Baby, being just about old enough now, I make some for her too.

Step 4 Now where did I put those mini marshmallows?  Can't find them anywhere! Bother! Oh well! Best put those on my shopping list for next time!

Step 5 Sit back and enjoy!

Now I've started, with the milk substitutes, there's a few more winter warmers I'll be giving a go. Porridge is definitely on my list and (having been to someone's for dinner the other week) the next thing I'm feeling inspired to try is rice pudding. Both of these will be just right for keeping me warm - what with all this cold weather we've been having! Then, of course, there's always custard (you can get cartons of ready-made custard if you can tolerate soya)) and Pancake Day is coming up soon...

* Always check the ingredients of course! It should be cocoa, but some 'may contain traces of...'

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