December 2015…Eggnog is a milk- and egg-based beverage traditionally enjoyed during the winter holidays. Dating back to the Middle Ages in Europe, when milk and eggs were scarce unless families had their own livestock, eggnog was reserved for special occasions. It was the beverage of choice when wishing someone “good health” in the year ahead.
The name is a combination of egg and “nog”—either a form of “grog,” an Old World name for rum, or “noggin,” a wooden mug. No matter how it began, eggnog has maintained its place as a favorite holiday beverage.
The eggnog tradition came with European settlers to colonial America. This was one of George Washington’s favorite concoctions for celebrating Christmas at Mount Vernon.
During the holidays you can find eggnog in the dairy case. But it’s easy, fun, and often healthier to make and share your own eggnog with children! Here are some things you should know:
- Most eggnog recipes simply combine milk, eggs, and sugar in a blender. This practice is NOT recommended because raw eggs can contain a harmful bacteria called Salmonella. You should always eat only safely cooked foods containing eggs.
- It used to be that you had to cook the eggnog mixture. Now you can buy already-safe eggs called pasteurized eggs at the grocery store. Ask your grocer for help if you can’t find any.
- While it is a good source of calcium and protein, eggnog can be high in fat and calories if made from cream. Switch the higher fat milk for a reduced, low-fat, or nonfat version.
- Traditional eggnog recipes also included alcohol, usually rum. This recipe includes rum extract—which has no or very little alcohol content and can be found in the spice aisle—as an optional ingredient. You can add extra zing with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon.
—By Althea Zanecosky, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., a member of the Healthy NewsWorks Healthcare and Scientific Editorial Committee. She also contributed the recipe below.
Healthy eggnog for kids
- 6 pasteurized eggs
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 cups nonfat, low-fat (1% fat), or 2% (reduced-fat) milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons rum extract (optional)
- Ground nutmeg, to taste
- Break eggs into large bowl. Beat eggs until light in color.
- Mix in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla.
- Add skim milk. Blend with egg mixture for 30 seconds.
- Cover eggnog tightly and let ripen in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Stir again and serve sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.