CocoNog + Beating Holiday Stress

Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnong) | A Sweet Spoonful

After we cleaned the kitchen and put away all the platters,  I made myself a cup of tea and thought about what could be done differently. This Thanksgiving was our first year actually cooking and hosting and honestly, for two longtime ex-vegetarians, preparing a turkey feels like a pretty major task. The week before, we had family in town for Oliver’s first birthday party and between baking cupcakes, ordering helium balloons and thinking through a simple brunch menu for close to 50 people, I felt pretty spent as far as entertaining was concerned. So Sam took on all things turkey, and I made my cranberry sauce and pie Wednesday night. A good compromise. And yet, it still felt like a lot for some reason and I found myself pacing around the house throughout the day, deliberately staying out of the kitchen and wondering at what point in adulthood things feel more natural (if not actually seamless) when it comes to entertaining during the holidays.

I think for a lot of us, the holiday season can be more of a source of stress than we’d like to admit. Or I’ll just speak for myself. There’s this short window of time that I so look forward to all year: we string lights outside the house, and spend more time indoors cooking and listening to records. We have a mulled wine party that always guarantees steamy windows and tipsy friends, and I bake things I’d usually consider too decadent or time-consuming. But along with that comes the flip side: the pressure to find gifts for friends and family, get our holiday card done, manage a handful of social obligations, hit important holiday sales goals at Marge, purchase plane tickets, and on and on. All of those things take up a good chunk of the next month, but they’re rarely the things I remember nor are they the things I necessarily look forward to when I think about the holidays. So instead of pacing around for the next month feeling much like I did on Thanksgiving day, I want to take a step back.

Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnong) | A Sweet SpoonfulThere are a few ways that I’ve decided to force myself to pause this season, and I thought I’d share them here in case you need a self-enforced break, too. First off, I’ve been carrying Rescue Remedy Drops around in my bag and keeping a bottle next to our loose teas for those moments when things start feeling like a little too much. If you haven’t heard of Rescue, they’ve been around for a looooong time and make a variety of products, but I like the homeopathic drops the best for minor, everyday stress relief (and they don’t cost a fortune, which is a bonus this time of year). I just put a few drops in my tea or water (or coconut milk eggnog, as is the case here) and forge on.

I know some of you may already use meditation apps and I’m a little late to the party here, but I’ve fallen pretty hard for Headspace, and have been trying to remember to sit still once a day, close my eyes, and focus on my breath. A lot of the meditation advice I’ve heard encourages you to find a quiet, peaceful corner in the house and aim to start your day with uninterrupted time before things kick into gear — and I think that’s why I was pushing back against practicing for awhile: like most parents, I don’t have control over when my day starts and I certainly don’t have the luxury of rolling out of bed and heading to my quiet, solitary meditation pillow. But I’ve tweaked things a bit and generally find time in the late afternoon to sit quietly, resetting my day and recalibrating things for the evening ahead.

Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnong) | A Sweet SpoonfulAnother little thing I’m finding helpful in managing everyday stress is trying really hard to work in exercise or walks with friends whenever I can. Living in Seattle you get used to dark days. It’s not as rainy as many people think but the winter is dark. So waiting until the weather is pleasant to head outdoors is something you have to let go. I remember when I first moved here, I thought it was so odd that people walked in the rain without umbrellas, completely unphased. Similarly, friends would meet up after work — in the dark — to get in a lap around the lake.

Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnong) | A Sweet SpoonfulIn addition to battling the diminishing light with walks and fresh air, I’ve also been trying to create more light: usually we string twinkly lights on the outside of the house for the holiday season, and this year we decided to bring them inside as well — I have a few strung in the dining room and I’m working on the mantle today. Deep breaths, walks, the light: All little things, really, but together I’m hoping they help make me feel more equipped to prioritize what’s most important this holiday season. Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnong) | A Sweet Spoonful As for this recipe: it seemed fitting to share something I’ve been making lately that is meant to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately. Eggnog isn’t really something you take a few quick swigs of on your way out the door: it’s meant to be savored and shared — so let’s. While I like real eggnog, I’ve long wanted to develop a coconut milk version because I love coconut milk and like to control the sweetness of my eggnog (some of the store bought stuff is so, so sweet). As a trifecta of stress relief, I’ve been sipping this lately with a few drops of Rescue Remedy (you can add it to hot or cold beverages) while sitting on the couch under our twinkling mantle lights. I’m not getting anywhere with that holiday card yet, but I am feeling a little slower, more intentional, and more deliberate with the days so far. I hope you are, too.

Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnog)

Coconog (Coconut Milk Eggnog)

  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups
  • Cook time: 5 mins
  • Inactive time: 2 hrs
  • Total time: 2 hrs 5 mins

I wanted this dairy-free eggnog to be naturally sweetened (but not too sweet) and to taste much like traditional eggnog, so there’s a nice balance between coconut sugar and maple syrup and a generous hand with the nutmeg. I love coconut sugar because it’s unrefined and has a slightly dark, caramelly flavor profile, which feels just right here. It’s best served cold right out of the fridge and is pretty decadent, so a little goes a long ways.

Ingredients

2 cans (14 ounces each) full-fat coconut milk
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup (30g) coconut sugar (or your favorite unrefined sugar)
pinch kosher salt
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon - 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg (depending on your preference)
whole nutmeg, for serving

Instructions

Bring coconut milk to a simmer in a medium pot over medium-high heat. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, coconut sugar, salt, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth.

Gradually whisk the hot coconut milk into the egg mixture, streaming it in slowly as you go so as not to cook the eggs. Pour the mixture back in the pot and cook over medium heat until thick, stirring to avoid burning, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours and up to overnight. To serve, pour into your favorite cups and grate nutmeg on top.

Comments

  1. Lisa

    My son's birthday always falls within days of Thanksgiving so it does get hectic and stressful planning and hosting 2 major holidays within days of each other. I know how you feel! We usually scale down the birthday food. I'll make some yummy appetizers and cake , and order in pizzas as the meal. It's become a tradition and it makes that week much calmer. Happy birthday to Oliver and enjoy the Christmas holidays!

    1. megang

      Love that idea, Lisa. Keeping it simple + realistic is key this time of year. Thank you so much for the sweet comment, and happy holidays to you and your family, too!

  2. Anna

    Thanks for the suggestion for the headspace ap. As mother to two young children I am really feeling the need for a few minutes to be quiet and centered but I'm not great at meditation on my own. I am going to try this as soon as possible.

    1. megang

      Hi hope you like it, Anna. They do a free trial of 10 sessions and then, sadly, you have to pay ... but there are a number of free apps out there now and I've been meaning to try those, too. Have a great (restful!) weekend.

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