12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: Herb's Eggnog

Puerto Ricans have our own version of eggnog: coquito! My mother would always make this icy coconut-based drink for the holidays -- a mouthwatering tradition. But it can still be heavy on the calories, so these days, I make it lighter with a few easy tweaks. Here's how to make this classic holiday drink, plus how to package it up for a a unique, delicious homemade gift.

We're serving up fresh healthy gift ideas every day from now until December 12. Catch up on the previous gifts here.

We all know that eggnog is creamy goodness in a cup. And if you add bourbon, it’s creamy bliss in a cup! But that’s also a creamy 9 grams of fat … in just one glass.

Puerto Ricans have our own version of eggnog: coquito. My mother would always make this icy coconut-based drink for the holidays -- a mouthwatering tradition.  But it can still be high in fat, so these days, I make it lighter with a few easy tweaks.  Here's how to make this classic holiday drink, plus how to package it up for a unique, delicious homemade gift.

Coquito: Puerto Rican Eggnog

I use fat-free evaporated milk and replace some of the egg yolks with egg whites to reduce fat in this drink without sacrificing flavor. Coquito makes a great holiday gift! Just pour it into a vintage bottle, tie a ribbon around the top and present in a festive bag.  No matter how you give it away... just remember to make an extra bottle for yourself. I promise, you will thank me later.

Yield: Enough for about 2 (750 milliliter) bottles or 10 (6-fluid ounce) servings

Ingredients:
1 can (14-ounce) fat-free condensed milk
1 can (12-ounce) fat-free evaporated milk
1 can (13.5 ounce) light coconut milk
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup cinnamon water (recipe follows)
1 cup high-quality white rum

Directions:

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over medium heat. Lower heat to simmer. Fit with a heat-safe bowl to create a bain-marie*.  In the bain-marie, heat condensed milk, evaporated milk and coconut milk.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and egg whites until pale yellow and thick.  Slowly pour 1 cup of the coconut milk mixture into the eggs, whisking to combine.  Slowly pour the egg mixture into the bain-marie, whisking as you go.  Add nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook the mixture until it reaches 160 degrees F, between 5 and 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and add cinnamon water and rum.  Pour into bottles with a funnel. Chill until ready to give or serve. The mixture will keep for 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Serve over ice.

*French for "water bath," a bain-marie is used to cook delicate foods like custards.  To create one, fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the water and cook the custard there.

Cinnamon Water

Ingredients:
3 whole sticks cinnamon
2 cups water

Directions:

In small pot, combine water and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer until it reduces by half.  Set aside to cool or place pan in freezer to speed the cooling process.

Nutrition Info Per Serving:
Calories: 229
Total Fat:  2 grams
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 30 grams
Protein: 8 grams
Sodium: 105 milligrams
Cholesterol: 49 milligrams
Fiber: 0 grams

Next Food Network Star season 6 finalist Herb Mesa is a restaurant-trained chef, a self-taught healthy cuisine chef and a certified personal trainer. Herb teaches "balance through food and fitness," and works as a personal chef and trainer in Atlanta.

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