Truthfully, I have never been one to lose my marbles about egg nog. But I always seem to itch for a little taste of it every year because #CHRISTMAS(!!!!) There’s just something cozy about all things that resemble the holidays – Chocolate Advent Calendars, Candy Canes, Candy Cane Ice-Cream (someone needs to work on a healthified version of this – pronto), Chai/Gingerbread Lattes, Hot Chocolate, Cheese Boards and a sea of hors d’oeuvre at every Christmas party you attend. Just the thought of it all brings out the inner Elf in me! While you might think this makes the holidays slightly trickier for the average Holistic Nutritionist, I like to think of it as a fun little challenge to see how I can recreate some of my holiday favourites with healthy, wholesome, real ingredients.
The problem with some of our beloved holiday favourites is that all of these artificial flavours and hidden sugars sneak into our diet that much more easily, which can wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels, adrenal health (stress levels), hormones, mood and sleep cycles. My goal in everything that I share with you though, isn’t to enforce restriction or deprivation. If you’re familiar with my story and history with anorexia, you’ll know I’m a big advocate of quality over quantity. What that means is that, while I may not be an avid calorie counter, I am a religious label reader and if the ingredients listed on a product aren’t pronounceable or recognizable by my body, I choose to stray away from it. You see, when we give our body the whole nutrient-dense foods it needs to thrive, we don’t suffer from things like the 3pm crash or food cravings. It’s when we’re bombarding our body with sugar all the time that we suffer from the blood sugar rollercoaster – the high bursts of energy and the low crashes, which ultimately lead us to wanting and craving more sugar.
Let’s look at the conventional egg nog ingredients for example (keeping in mind, that the order that ingredients are listed in resemble the amounts in the product, from the largest amount at the beginning of the list to the smallest amount at the end of the list):
Milk, Cream, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Egg Yolks, Fat Free Milk, Natural and Artificial Flavours, Guar Gum, Salt, Carrageenan, Mono and Diglycerides, Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6.
The Hidden Danger
Not only are we spiking our blood sugar and triggering an inflammatory cascade upon the first sip, but we’re taking the hard hit of those ugly food colourings as well. In case you’re not familiar with the harmful effects of food dyes, continue reading:
Red 40 (Allura Red) – The most widely used and consumed dye. It has been known to cause allergy-like reactions in consumers, trigger hyperactivity in children and accelerate the appearance of immune system tumours in mice (Also found in Beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, foods, drugs, and cosmetics).
Yellow 5 (Tartrazine) – Can cause hypersensitivity reactions and trigger hyperactivity/behavioural effects in children. (Also found in: Pet foods, numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics).
Yellow 6 (Sunset Yellow) – Has been known to cause adrenal tumours in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions (Also found in: Colour bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin deserts, sausage, cosmetics, and drugs.
“But what’s Christmas without Egg Nog and all of our beloved festive goodies?!” you ask? Not to worry – the show will go on, but with some new and improved healthified versions, like my Dairy & Refined Sugar-Free Egg Nog below!
Dairy & Refined Sugar-Free Egg Nog
- 3/4 cup almond milk (store-bought w/o carrageenan or homemade)
- 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 banana
- 3 medjool dates
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- ice, as needed
- pinch of sea salt
- Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a glass and sprinkle with cinnamon.