The Holiday Favorite Beverage Doesn’t Have To Be A Cause Of Your Main New Year’s Resolution

There are certain foods and beverages that have become hallmarks of the holiday season: fruitcake, hot cocoa, candy canes, and—of course—eggnog. Eggnog’s creamy-and-slightly-spiced (and oftentimes spiked with alcohol) flavor certainly is a decadent, tasty winter treat. But can it be healthy? You bet!

A Small Sip of Eggnog History

Ever wonder how eggnog came to be? Turns out an early version was popular in the 1200s for those wealthy enough to afford the drink’s eggs, dairy, and sherry. But it wasn’t until the founding of America that eggnog began to be associated with Christmas.

Let’s face facts, though. As much as you might enjoy it, today’s typical store-bought eggnog isn’t particularly healthy. With its milk, cream, and copious amounts of sugar in various forms, eggnog is packed with calories, carbohydrates, and fat—as well as sodium and cholesterol. What it rarely has, ironically, is much egg.

Homemade eggnog usually has the following basic ingredients: egg yolks, sugar, whole milk, heavy cream, and nutmeg. Whipped egg whites and your choice of alcohol are optional. Obviously, this version, although delicious, won’t be particularly healthy either. And depending on the recipe, a single cup of holiday cheer easily can have 400 calories.

Healthy Substitutions

So what’s a nutrition- and calorie-conscious holiday reveler to do? You can start by replacing heavy cream or buttermilk with yogurt, which will make a big difference in calories and fat depending on the type of yogurt selected. Low-fat or fat-free milk can take the place of whole milk, but keep in mind you’ll lose some of the creaminess with these substitutions.

An eggnog-cocktail variant called the Tom and Jerry that’s served warm foregoes the cream and allows you to dilute the milk with water, but it still has all the eggs—and more alcohol.  

Perhaps the healthiest choice are the dairy-free vegan eggnog varieties that substitute ingredients such as cashews, coconut, almonds, and dates for the eggs and dairy products (the alcohol is still optional, of course!). Here’s our chef-approved recipe:

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Nog

½ cup raw cashews
1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
5-6 soft pitted medjool dates
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp nutmeg (optional: + more for sprinkling)
⅛ tsp cloves
⅛ tsp salt
½ cup ice cubes

Cooking Instructions
Place cashews in a glass bowl and cover with very hot water. Soak for them about 10 minutes or until they soften a little. Strain them and discard the water. (If your dates are hard, you can add them to the water.)

Blend all ingredients on high speed until consistency is very smooth and everything is blended together.

Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg on top and serve immediately.

Now it won’t taste the same as traditional eggnog, but as the old cliche goes, some traditions are made to be broken.

The Pickled Beet excels at finding ways to create healthy and tasty versions of not-so-good-for-you holiday favorites. We also incorporate favorite foods and seasonings into flavor-filled recipes for our Miami clients. We work with individuals, couples, and families to find delicious meals that best fuel the body no matter what nutritional requirements might be part of the equation. Contact us for a free consultation.

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