A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Eggnog: A beverage with a rich history and flavor

Healthy Makeover Eggnog recipe

Eggnog has a long, rich history and a rich flavor all its own. Try this healthy makeover eggnog recipe.

Some traditions you want to love or leave and eggnog is one of those traditions.

During certain times of year you’ll find eggnog for sale in your local grocery store. Characters in holiday movies toast using the traditional beverage, spiked or alcohol-free. And your own family may have incorporated it into holiday celebrations.

Marshfield Clinic Health System Dietitian Chrisanne Urban acknowledged the love-or-leave relationship with eggnog. “Eggnog, like fruitcake, is something you love or hate,” she said. “They’re the holiday version of eggplant and liver!”

Eggnog has a long, rich history and a rich flavor all its own, thanks to whole milk or heavy cream, sugar, raw eggs, possibly one or more alcoholic spirits and spices like vanilla, nutmeg and sometimes cloves.

Eggnog goes back to medieval Britain if not earlier, traced to colonial times as well as found in Mexico and Puerto Rico, Urban said. Early farmers mixed milk and eggs and even 13th-century monks took eggs and figs to mix into a drink. Wealthy people would add sherry.

Another fun fact, Urban said, is that “nog” comes from the word “noggin” which means “wooden cup.” The drink typically would be served in a nog so thus, the name.

It’s tasty but not the healthiest beverage. “When you see all those ingredients you see high fat, high sugar, high calorie,” Urban said. “If you consider lifestyles back in the colonial era people were highly active and could burn off the calories. Not so much today.”

How would you do a healthy satisfying makeover? Urban offers these tips:

  • Don’t use raw unpasteurized eggs because of increased risk of salmonella. About 1 in 120,000 people will get salmonella from an egg. This is especially a warning for pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. Instead, use pasteurized egg products like Egg Beaters. Also, use of raw egg in products is severely restricted in the U.S. due to health concerns. Most commercial eggnog does not include raw eggs and would be safe to consume, Urban said.
  • Cut fat by using low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk.
  • Decrease sugar,

Urban shares this recipe that’s a fourth of the saturated fat and half the cholesterol. Whole milk is replaced with low-fat milk. Milk and sugar are gently cooked with cornstarch to keep the thick texture and it calls for more egg whites and fewer yolks.

Healthy Makeover Eggnog

Yield: 13 ½-cup servings

Calories per serving: 105

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes


  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 5 ½ cups low-fat milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dark Jamaican rum (optional)


In bowl, with whisk, beat eggs and egg whites until blended; set aside. In heavy 4-quart saucepan, with heat-safe spatula, mix 4 cups milk with sugar, cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook on medium-high until mixture boils and thickens slightly, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat.

Gradually whisk 1/2 cup simmering milk mixture into eggs; pour egg mixture back into milk in saucepan, whisking constantly, to make custard.

Pour custard into large bowl; stir in vanilla, nutmeg, rum, if using, and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Sprinkle eggnog with nutmeg to serve.

Nutrition information

One serving, not including rum – 97 calories; 2g fat; 14g carbohydrates; and 6g protein.

Source: goodhousekeeping.com

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