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Calorie Count Blog

Cocoa Recipes For Summer

Posted on Jul 20, 2013 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

By +Leyla Shamayeva

Nothing beats holding a cup of hot cocoa after a long, cold day and having the rich, chocolaty flavor warm your insides. You don’t have to wait until next winter to enjoy a cocoa treat. Cooling things off with cold alternatives can taste and feel just as good as the hot stuff. Also, a recent Penn State study shows that there might even be health benefits to enjoying this favorite. Obese mice that were fed a human equivalent of 10 tablespoons of cocoa powder over 10 weeks experienced better control of inflammation-related diseases like diabetes. More studies are needed to establish a link between cocoa powder and health, but in the meantime, trying some of these delicious low-calorie cocoa ideas can’t hurt!

Choosing the Best Cocoa Powder

Standing in front of all the options at the supermarket can be daunting, but knowing the differences between them will help you make the healthiest decision. You will generally come across three types: natural and Dutch-processed, which are used in cooking, and the more common sweetened form, used in hot mixes. Use the option that best suits you.

  • Natural Cocoa Powder: Naturally bitter but with an intense chocolaty flavor, natural cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that are processed into a liquor, removing the fat. The remainder, containing only 10-20% fat, is ground up to be used in baking. Although bitter by itself, this cocoa gives baked goods the rich, chocolate taste associated with brownies. Specific calorie counts vary among manufacturers but are in the ballpark of about 12 calories per tablespoon.
  • Dutch Processed Powder: Taking the processing a step further, the natural powder is neutralized with alkalis to give it a darker color and a less bitter taste. For around the same amount of calories, this is better for use in cakes and baked goods with a milder chocolate taste.
  • Sweetened Powder: We see this version sold in packets, ready to make hot mixes. Although not as low in calories as the unsweetened versions, there are low-calorie and low-fat versions available that won’t put a dent into your healthy day. Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mixes, for example, can go as low as 26 calories per packet. Read nutrition labels to choose the best option.


Frozen Cocoa Cubes In Milk - 52 Calories

For a drink as close to the winter original as possible, try frozen cocoa cubes in milk.


  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 1 cup almond milk


  1. Bring water to a boil and add the cocoa. You can also prepare using a sweetened hot cocoa mix according to the instructions on the box.
  2. Stir well and pour into ice cube trays. Let freeze.
  3. Add several cubes to 1 cup of almond milk (or any beverage of your choosing, including low-fat milk, soy milk, etc.). Enjoy!


Cocoa Smoothie - 342 Calories

The ice cubes above are a great addition to fruity smoothies to give them a chocolate kick, but you can also add cocoa straight in like in this Banana-Cocoa Soy Smoothie. Although a serving has 342 calories, the drink also has enough protein and fiber to keep you full for hours, just like a meal would.


Cocoa Banana "Ice Cream" - 109 Calories

A huge summer favorite is ice cream, but with all the calorie-dense varieties even a small half-cup isn’t the healthiest option. A great alternative is frozen banana ice cream. It’s a great way to use up rotting bananas, and the added cocoa gives it some extra flavor.


  • 1 mashed frozen banana
  • 1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder


  1. Mash a banana and freeze until firm.
  2. Sprinkle cocoa powder over it and enjoy.


Your thoughts...

How do you use cocoa powder? Do you have any favorite summer cocoa recipes?

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I make a simple smoothie of 1 frozen banana, 1 cup almond milk, and a tbsp or so of cocoa powder. I lessen the almond milk if I want it thicker, more like ice cream. So good and none of my trigger foods in there!

I use 1 Tbs cocoa powder in my coffee every morning. I love the cocoa taste with the coffee! I also add sugar-free Hazelnut syrup by Torani. I drink a half-pot of coffee every morning!!

Adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of agave or honey, and 10-11 drops of stevia liquid to plain, non-fat greek yogurt makes a delicious substitute for chocolate pudding. Bulking it up with any combination of the following makes a pretty satisfying lunch: berries (fresh, frozen, or dried), trail mix, pomegranate powder, shredded (unsweetened) coconut, wheat germ, brewer's yeast. The agave or honey is optional, but I find stevia tastes best when combined with a small amount of raw, natural sweetener.

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