Chocolate-Hazelnut Syrup: Add finely ground hazelnuts (use a food processor, immersion blender or even a coffee grinder to get finely-ground nuts) to the chocolate syrup recipe. Melt the chocolate as instructed, but bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add hazelnuts and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in agave nectar. Set aside to cool and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup with a small colander into an airtight squeeze bottle or jar. Store syrup in the refrigerator.
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Bring water and almond extract to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat and stir in the agave nectar. Let sit for 10 minutes to steep and cool before storing syrup in an airtight squeeze bottle or jar. Store syrup in the refrigerator.
By now, you can see how easy a healthier simple syrup recipe can be. There are dozens of variations you can invent following this template. For example, if you want a spiced syrup, crush some cardamom pods and star anise, then add them to the water and agave mixture with some fresh orange peel. Have fun experimenting with the herbs, spices and nuts that you enjoy most.
Step 2: Experiment With Milk Alternatives Instead of Just Using Nonfat Milk
Of course, there's nothing wrong with low-fat or nonfat milk, but their flavor profiles can be a little bland. Try unsweetened hemp, rice, almond or soy milk in place of dairy milk to see if you like the creamier and, in some cases, slightly nutty flavors. For example, almond milk would pair perfectly with coffee and almond syrup; it would also work well blended with the chocolate-hazelnut syrup. Nutritional bonuses:
- One cup of a leading brand of almond milk contains 45 percent of your daily value for calcium, compared to 29 percent in one cup of low-fat dairy milk
- One 8 oz. glass of hemp milk contains 900mg of omega-3 fatty acids
- Fortified rice milk is a great alternative for lactose-intolerant people or those with a soy allergy