Believe it or not, chocolate milk is touted as one of the best post-workout drinks for recovery. It provides fluids for re-hydration, carbohydrates for replenishing glycogen stores, and protein (if made with dairy milk) for repairing muscle.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear “chocolate milk,” I think of those yellow bottles of Nesquik chocolate milk with the cute little rabbit on it. That friendly looking rabbit may work to rope in the kiddos, but it doesn’t work on me, because I actually read the labels. Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:
INGREDIENTS: LOWFAT MILK WITH VITAMIN A PALMITATE AND VITAMIN D3 ADDED, SUGAR, LESS THAN 2% OF COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CELLULOSE GEL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, CELLULOSE GUM.
I see quite a few things wrong with this picture. Let’s evaluate.
1) Lowfat milk: If you are going to consume dairy (which I just recently started introducing back into my diet), then you should be consuming FULL FAT dairy. The fats in dairy are good for you, and have been linked to weight loss, so put down the skim milk, and pick up some grass-fed whole milk, butter and cheese!
2) Vitamin A Palmitate: this is a synthetic alternate for Vitamin A. I like my vitamins naturally occurring, thank you very much.
3) Cocoa processed with alkali: this process reduces the amount of natural antioxidants in the cocoa.
4) Cellulose gel: this synthetically created chemical is not digestible.
5) Natural and Artificial Flavors: why does it need artificial flavors? Probably to mask all the nasty artificial chemicals.
6) Carrageenan: this substance, used for its gelling and thickening properties, has been known to cause colitis-like diseases and tumors in animal dietary studies.
Clearly, pre-made, processed chocolate milk is bound to do more harm than good as a post workout beverage. So I decided to come up with a solution. Instead of buying pre-made chocolate milk or syrup, I created a Paleo chocolate syrup to stir into almond and coconut milk. While neither almond nor coconut milk are good sources of protein, my Paleo chocolate milk is an antioxidant powerhouse. Cocoa is rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals and reduce inflammation; honey (when organic!) contains antioxidants, natural enzymes that improve nutrient absorption, and carbs to replenish glycogen; and cinnamon contains several nutrients and helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol.
So pair this homemade chocolate milk with a whole protein source and you’ve got the ultimate post workout refuel!
- Put all the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, and whisk to combine until smooth.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium, and allow to simmer and thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn.
- Once thickened but still liquid-y, remove from heat and let cool.
- Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
You can use this chocolate syrup to top any Paleo dessert, or stir a spoonful into your milk of choice for a healthful glass of chocolate milk!