Egging on the holiday spirit: Celebrate with a glass of eggnog
A Christmas treat, egg nog. Monday, Dec. 7, 2009. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald

In the classic sports movie "Rocky," it's the breakfast drink of champions. You just need a couple of raw eggs and a glass. Enjoy! At Christmas time, there are a few more ingredients, and most people pick it up in the dairy aisle at the grocery story. The essence, however, remains the same. I mean, sort of.

OK, so a boxer who was training for a big fight probably wouldn't start his day off with a tall glass of ... eggnog. The popular Christmas confection, usually a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, cream and spices (especially nutmeg or cinnamon), is a treat, and one that's probably best consumed in moderation. That may be why most people only drink it during the holidays.

That's part of the reason that Utah Dairy Farms, a dairy cooperative based in Delta, is launching its Utah Farms brand -- "Utah Milk for Utah Families" -- exclusively with chocolate milk and eggnog. "People are in an indulgent kind of mood," said Utah Farms marketing consultant Jeff Manning. "They're not checking the label."

Don't feel like you have to wait for Christmas Day itself. Casey Andersen, general manager of Utah Farms, said that eggnog -- which is one word in most dictionaries, but occasionally shows up as two at the supermarket -- is not just a holiday treat.

"As it gets cold," Andersen said, "for whatever reason, eggnog sales go up." When Utah experienced a cold snap near the end of October, he said, "sales went very well."

Andersen said that, except during the last three months of the year, and occasionally at Easter, most stores don't even stock eggnog. In January, he said, "we're probably going to pull our eggnog and replace it with white milk. For whatever reason, after the holidays it just doesn't sell."

One Eggnog, Hold the Egg

This may seem counterintuitive. Many people like the taste of eggnog, but want the nog without its egg. Some of the different options for replacing eggs in eggnog:

• Vanilla instant pudding mix

• Pumpkin pie filling

• Ice cream

• Tofu

If you do use eggs, be sure to cook the mixture before consumption. Jana Darrington, the family and consumer science agent at the Utah County Extension Office (the statewide extension program is operated by Utah State University), said that eggs, properly handled, are generally considered safe. On the other hand, she said, because of the potential for salmonellosis, it's always best to cook eggs before consuming them.

If you're following a family recipe that doesn't have cooking instructions, check the Internet. Many online eggnog recipes include instructions for cooking your eggnog during preparation, then chilling it before drinking.

Tastes Great, Less Filling

So you want to get that lovely eggnog taste, but you're also watching your waistline. According to NutritionData.com, which uses information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, a 1-cup serving of eggnog has 343 calories, 167 of them from fat. Yikes! Is there any way to literally trim the fat?

Casey Andersen, general manager of Utah Farms, a new dairy brand based in Delta, said that his mother used a handy trick to dilute eggnog's negative impact. Andersen, whose parents are fifth-generation dairy farmers in Cache Valley (up in the Utah panhandle), said his mother usually bought eggnog at the store.

"I have five brothers, so she wanted to stretch it as far as she could," he said. "She'd mix it half-and-half with regular milk."

If you make your own eggnog, then there are also a variety of low-fat eggnog recipes available online that have a couple of common threads: 1) use Egg Beaters, or another egg replacement product, and 2) use a replacement sweetener like rum extract instead of sugar.

The Hard Stuff

Some local partakers of eggnog may not know this, but what makes the treat worthwhile for many is mixing it with bourbon, brandy or rum. If you aren't the sort who indulges in stiff drink, you can still have your eggnog with a kick. One popular eggnog "mixer" is soda: 7-Up and Sprite are often preferred because they don't overwhelm the dairy flavor.

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