Everyone likes a night tipple. For me it's a pot of green tea to help me relax, wind down and be calm enough be able to sit through the nightly news without throwing things at the TV. Sometimes my husband joins me or sometimes he fixes himself a good slug of brandy and within half an hour is in la-la land. A nice drink to warm you up and calm you down is lovely before bedtime and its not surprising that many parents make their kids have a warm glass of milk before they go to bed.

There is science behind this. Milk has an amino acid called tryptophan, which is known to cause drowsiness. Though some scientist dispute this saying that there isn't enough tryptophan is a glass of milk to cause this lovely side effect, still, the warmth of the milk relaxes the muscles and when body temperature is raised, the body slows down is sleep inducing. Milk also coats the stomach and makes it feel full, another factor in causing drowsiness. If it is all so lovely and feel-goody, why don't the kids just drink the damn thing up? Because it's the same old boring glass of milk night after night after night after night.

So we've come up with some nifty nightcaps to make that warm glass of milk a little cooler!

RED VELVET HOT CHOCOLATE
This one is a super hit with kids and parents because it's loaded with goodies and look funky too!

1 red beetroot, peeled and sliced
2 cups milk
2-4 Tbsp. cocoa
2-4 Tbsp. honey, or to taste
Bring the beet and milk to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan – it should steam on the surface and turn bright pink, but not boil. Separately, stir the cocoa and honey together in a small dish to make a thick paste.
When the milk is hot, discard the beet slices with a slotted spoon. Whisk the cocoa-honey mixture into the milk and serve hot.

CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER HOT CHOCOLATE
An instant hit that not a child in the world could resist!

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup water
3 cups whole milk
2-4 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
A little bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
In a saucepan, stir together the honey and cocoa to get rid of lumps; stir in the water until smooth, then whisk in the milk over medium-high heat. Heat until steaming. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter and chocolate. Let it sit for a few seconds and then hand blend it. For kids who don't like peanut butter (are there any?) vary with Nutella. Delish.

DAIRY-FREE COCONUT HOT CHOCOLATE
If you have a child with a dairy allergy, this could be the winner for you

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
15 ounces (1 can) coconut milk
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring 1/3 cup of water to a boil and pour it into a mug or small bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder until dissolved. In another small saucepan bring the coconut milk, brown sugar and salt to a low simmer until all the sugar has melted. Then whisk in the cocoa and chopped chocolate until completely dissolved. Stir in the vanilla and serve hot.

 

BABYCHINNO
The sophisticated kids drink that will make them feel all grown up.

1 cup water
1 -2 tbsp instant hot chocolate powder
extra milk for foam.
Make hot chocolate as you would normally do or as directed on the packet. Pour it in to an espresso glass. Whizz milk with hand blender till you get some froth. Spoon over hot chocolate and serve immediately.

Sometimes when kids are ill, they may not want milk that is heavy and so we have our last option, a lovely ginger lemon tea or strawberry tea.

GINGER LEMON TEA

I litre fresh water
Juice of 1-2 lemons, depending on size
1 cinnamon stick
?a few whole cloves
?a few whole allspice berries or a pinch of allspice powder
?a 2″ chunk of peeled fresh ginger, coarsely grated or sliced
1 tbsp honey.
In a large saucepan combine the lemonade, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger and bring to a simmer; for about 10 minutes. Strain into a glass. Mix in honey and serve warm.

STRAWBERRY TEA

2 cups water
I decaf berry tea bag
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 tbsp honey
A few slices fresh ginger.
Boil water with strawberries and ginger. When boiling, add in tea bag for about a minute. Strain, keeping aside some strawberries. Pour in to individual glasses and mix in honey. Top with a few sliced strawberries and watch it disappear in one gulp.

Goodnight and sweet dreams!