Some of my kids can’t get over the idea of drinking raw egg in eggnog, even after I tell them that eggnog is like ice cream in liquid form. I would love to make fresh eggnog with them, as I did with my mom’s rotary metal eggbeater when I was a kid, but bacterial contamination is a serious issue in this age of industrial egg production. So this is our holiday cheat: a frothy creamy drink, thick and sweet with banana, freckles of nutmeg on top. With milk, banana and ice, it’s also a healthier alternative to the cream, eggs and sugar of the real deal.
For a crunchy Californian like me, bananas can be ethically challenging. They aren’t local, unless you live in the tropics. And the industry, dominated by monopolies, is plagued by fair trade issues relating to low wages and poor working conditions. Though bananas rank low on pesticide residue, I pay a little extra for organic bananas to support a safer environment for banana industry workers and the countries that depend on the trade.
Speaking of banana republics, does anyone remember the original Banana Republic, before it was rebranded by The Gap? The Marin-based company, founded in 1978, sold travel clothing and gear through its hand-illustrated, vintage-look catalogs featuring writers such as Hunter S. Thompson. I loved the safari theme of the old Banana Republic stores, with a old Jeep busting out the storefront. As a kid, I used to read through the catalogs and picture myself in outback pants, a white linen shirt and a bush hat, exploring the far reaches of the world. These days I think of the Banana Republic catalog when I read Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, another well-penned marketing brochure of adventure and discovery.
But back to banana nog, which now seems mundane. I promise it’s good, and you probably already have the ingredients: bananas (sweet overripe bananas are best), milk, vanilla, nutmeg. And ice.
All but nutmeg in a blender.
Until smooth and creamy.
Thick milk or light milkshake, depending on your view.
But nutmeg is what makes it a nog. Spike it with a bit of whiskey or rum, if you like, for a little extra holiday spirit.
Funny that I would have thought of Banana Republic now, because founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler just published a book in October, Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic. I hadn’t heard of it until my wandering thoughts on bananas led me to the old Banana Republic store. But the Zieglers, who met at the San Francisco Chronicle and went on to found the Republic of Tea in 1992, are such marketing wizards they might have infiltrated my subconscious. Anyway, I’m going to check out the book at my library to continue my nostalgia trip.
Other banana recipes
Bananas add body and sweetness to this egg-free nog. Banana milk is a year-round favorite with my kids, but during the holidays we add nutmeg and call it a nog.
- 2 ripe (or overripe) bananas
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 6 ice cubes
- Ground nutmeg for garnish
- In a blender, combine all ingredients except nutmeg. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into cups, sprinkle nutmeg on top and serve immediately.
Makes about 3 cups.
- I find a bit of sugar helps counteract the alcohol taste of the vanilla extract, but omit if you prefer.
- Banana nog is best served fresh. Leftovers may be refrigerated for a few hours, but the drink will develop a light tan color and there may be some separation of liquid from foam. Stir well with a spoon before serving.
- Spike the drink with whiskey, rum, brandy, etc for a little extra holiday spirit.
- Overripe bananas may be stored in the refrigerator. The peel may turn dark, but the cold will stop the ripening. You may also store bananas, peeled, in the freezer and add frozen bananas directly into the blender.
Here’s the link to a printable version.