As the cold weather starts to hit hard in this part of the world hot chocolates start to become the drink of choice. In fact in my house I often offer up a hot chocolate for “dessert”.
Another Mum recently asked me whether there was a better choice between a hot chocolate, Milo or Ovaltine. Good question!
I guess the first thing to be aware of when adding flavours to your milk, is that you are adding sugar (note there are some sugar free versions available). I’m personally happy to add some sugar into my child’s diet when I know it’s packaged up in a food that also delivers them beneficial nutrients (you can read more about my thoughts on sugar here). Milk is a great source of calcium, protein, B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. Ideally kids should aim for 3 serves of dairy a day to meet their calcium requirements. If your child’s diet is otherwise balanced, a small amount of sugar added to milk is not harmful.
Products such as drinking chocolates, Nesquik (Australian version) or alike, are simply coco powder, sugar and/or added flavours. Milo and Ovaltine differ in that they also include a small amount of aditional nutrients, namely iron, vitamin C, vitamin D, extra calcium, phosphorus and a range of B vitamins. On average these products (when made according to instructions, roughly a tablespoon per glass of milk depending on the product) add between 2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar to your child’s diet and around 60 – 80 additional calories. If you want to know more about how much sugar you should be allowing in your child’s diet click here.
The additional nutrients offered in products such as Milo can be beneficial for some children. For example a standard serve of Milo provides about 35% of a 4yr olds requirement for iron, which can be handy if your child doesn’t eat red meat. As always, it’s preferable to use real foods to meet your child’s nutrient requirements, and I wouldn’t recommend using these products on a daily basis.
You can avoid the commercial products all together and flavour your child’s milk another way. Recently I’ve been making my children a nourishing cinnamon and vanilla hot frothy milk which they just love. For the everyday version I omit the sugar and cream, but if I’m dressing it up as something special, I go all out and add a little wow. I hope your kids enjoy this as much as mine!
Vanilla Cinnamon Hot Frothy Milk (enough for 4 children)
2 cinnamon quills (or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, but be aware this will leave a strong cinnamon residue at the bottom of the cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of castor sugar (you can omit this if you want to and the drink still tastes great, albeit less sweet)
Optional: whipped cream to serve
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and heat gently over low heat. Once hot use a hand whisk to vigorously whisk until the milk becomes frothy. If you have a coffee machine with a frothing function you might like to use this to create a denser froth for the top. Top with whipped cream if using and a sprinkle of cinnamon.