I’m certain that if we didn’t have a kid in the house, my husband and I would never put up a Christmas tree or take the time to stake out the herd of electric reindeer that blazes across our front yard every December. But when you’re a small family, the youngest member sets the traditions, so decorating the tree has become a yearly ritual that we all look forward to. Part of that ritual, perhaps the part that we adults enjoy the most, is indulging in some vegan eggnog as we trim the tree. Silk makes a perfectly drinkable soy nog, which becomes even more drinkable with the addition of a thimbleful of rum or brandy in the grownups’ glasses. (Sometimes a very large thimble.)
But you know I like healthifying things–otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. So I decided to try my hand at making a nog that isn’t soy based, doesn’t use starch to thicken it, and, perhaps toughest of all, doesn’t contain refined sugar. And you know what? It was easy!
Almond milk makes a delicious base for a nog, but it’s not very thick. Blending it with medjool dates to sweeten gives it a touch more thickness (and a not so wintery tan), but it needs a little more help to achieve the richness that we look for in an eggless nog. So on my first attempt, I added chia seeds, which swell up and thicken the nog while adding an interesting tapioca-ish texture. Chia drinks are becoming popular–there’s a chia-kombucha drink available in the very mainstream Fresh Market here in Jackson, Mississippi (and you know it’s becoming a thing if we get it here in Jackson!) If you like the idea of a nog with some texture to it, you’ll love my Chia Nog. (I used white chia seeds, so they’re not as noticeable as the regular brown ones.)
But what if you don’t like lumps of anything in your nog? My daughter is a chia resister, so I had to come up with another way to thicken her nog. So instead of chia, I added a frozen banana to the Vitamix, and the nog was instantly thicker without a lot of banana flavor.
You can use any kind of non-dairy milk you like, but I’m going to insist that you use rum extract and freshly grated nutmeg. Without at least some artificial rum flavor, nog just isn’t nog–it’s spiced milk. (Here’s an alcohol-free rum flavoring.) And if you have never tried freshly-grated nutmeg, prepare to be amazed. Not only is it more flavorful and fragrant than the already-ground packaged stuff, but it also has a softer texture. I find pre-ground nutmeg to be downright grainy in comparison. Get yourself an inexpensive microplane grater (your early Christmas gift?) and pick up some whole nutmeg in the grocery store spice section.
- 2 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 2 medjool dates, pits removed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, packed
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 frozen banana, chopped OR 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- For banana nog, place all ingredients (except chia) in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Check sweetness and add a little of your favorite sweetener if needed. Pour into two glasses and enjoy, sprinkled with a little extra nutmeg.
- For chia nog, place all ingredients except bananas or chia seeds into blender and blend until smooth. Check sweetness and add a little of your favorite sweetener if needed. Pour into a glass jar and stir in the chia seeds. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, shaking the jar every now and then to make sure the seeds don't clump together. Shake well before pouring into two glasses. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.
151 calories, 35 calories from fat, 3.9g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 151.2mg sodium, 357.2mg potassium, 28.2g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 23.3g sugar, 2.1g protein
Nutritional estimates use sweetened almond milk (60 calories per cup); other types of milk will have different nutritional values. Deduct 30 calories per serving if using unsweetened almond milk.
Happy drinking (and decorating, if that’s part of your traditions)!