February is a joyous month honoring leadership, celebrating love and praising our culture. Starting the month of festivities is African Heritage & Health week . A week long celebration encouraging African-Americans to return to their roots and rediscover cooking techniques and ingredients their ancestors ate before the age of processed food.
In 2011, Oldways , an organization dedicated to teaching nutrition and good food via culture and heritage, introduced the African Heritage Diet Pyramid . It was created by experts in African American history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health. The ingredients listed are commonly found in recipes from North America, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Dishes made with African Diaspora ingredients are generally healthier than some soul food dishes ‘invented’ or ‘revised’ within the last 60 years.
Hot Chocolate Milk originates from ancient Aztec, but today’s cocoa beans also grow in West Africa (make sure the chocolate is from a fair or direct trade source). Traditionally, hot chocolate milk is made with cow’s milk and/or fresh cream and melted chocolate. Today’s instant hot chocolate milk is made with lactic acid, non-fat milk powder, vanillin, too much sugar and chemically processed cocoa powder all mixed into boiling water. It’s so not yum to drink a watered down cup of hot chocolate milk with few nutritional benefits.
Inspired from Oldway’s Diaspora food glossary , I skipped the traditional cow’s milk and cream to use coconut milk for an equally creamy and thick cup of hot chocolate. Before melting the chocolate, the coconut milk is infused with African diaspora ingredients such as a little cumin and spicy chili peppers along with global spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom seeds and star anise. Afterwards, the spiced coconut milk is whisked into melted bittersweet chocolate. When enjoying a fresh cup of Spiced Chocolate Coconut Milk, drink it with a spoon or dip a piece of The Duo Dishes’ Glazed Banana Mango Bread into a cup. The flavors will dance in your mouth like West African drums.
Leave a comment below to share your favorite recipes incorporating ingredients mentioned in Oldway’s Diaspora Food Glossary and mention your favorite diaspora restaurant (don’t forget the city and state).
Cheers to our health… with love via our culture and heritage.
14 to 16 oz. canned or fresh coconut milk
A dash of sea salt
1 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
A few whole cardamon seeds
A pinch of crushed pepper
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
A tiny pinch of cumin or a few whole cumin seeds
A pinch of ground cloves or a few whole cloves
1 whole dried chili
1 vanilla bean; seeded with pod or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 to 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Milk: Also, substitute any type of full-fat milk, too.
Spices: The quantity of spices are estimated. Adjust the amount to reflect a personal taste and control spiciness.
Sugar: Coconut milk and bittersweet chocolate is sweet, so the sugar is omitted in this recipe. If a sweeter cup is desired, I recommend experimenting with date sugar, a sweetener derived from dates, another African Diaspora ingredient. Alternatively use honey or brown sugar.