This vanilla hot chocolate recipe is the perfect drink to unwind on these cooler nights.
We love Heilala Vanilla so we thought we would ask our GMB doctor Sandy Krafchik all about the health benefits of vanilla paste and the things you should be looking out for when buying vanilla from the supermarket.
Vanilla extract is a dark brown solution made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in alcohol and water to extract more flavour. When submerged the vanilla beans release vanillin, the major flavour compound found in vanilla.
Vanilla bean paste is a thicker form of vanilla extract – it is a combination of vanilla extract and vanilla seeds (from the vanilla pod). It also contains a thickener and a sugar-water syrup.
Vanilla has numerous health benefits:
Antioxidant – counteracts free radicals
Antibacterial – fights infection
Anti-inflammatory – counteracts inflammation in the body
Boosts mental health – reduces anxiety and depression
Reduces fever – a natural antipyretic
Stabilises cholesterol – reduces cholesterol naturally
It is important to always read the food label carefully. Ingredients to look out for and avoid include corn syrup, artificial thickeners, artificial flavours and lignin. Many vanilla extracts sold commercially are derived from lignin, a by-product of sawdust that can be used to create “synthetic” vanillin. Vanilla extract made in this way lacks all the health benefits of vanilla extract made from organic vanillin. Heilala Natural Vanilla Bean Paste contains only natural ingredients and is therefore a perfect choice to use in your baking and cooking at home.
No – it only contains 10% alcohol. Officially, vanilla extract must contain a base of 35 % alcohol. The alcohol content is diluted in vanilla bean paste due to the addition of other ingredients. The alcohol in vanilla extract evaporates during baking leaving only the vanilla flavour behind. In addition, due to its concentrated flavour, most recipes only require ½ -1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
Vanilla is a very versatile flavour and can be used in many ways including:
Sweet dishes – cakes/muffins/icing/ice cream/jam/biscuits/fruit crumbles/cheese cake
Savoury dishes- pasta sauce/ salad dressing/roasted root vegetables/pickled vegetables
Drinks – hot chocolate/chai/hot milk/smoothies