Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert
There are vast benefits of whole, organic yogurt, if you choose the right brand. But what about alternative forms of yogurt? These days there are so many different types available from frozen to non-dairy to kefir. There are pro’s & con’s of each, so it’s important to learn more about them to make educated heath decisions when it comes to your diet.
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Frozen yoghurt shops are popping up on every corner with consumers choosing this soft serve (and sometimes self serve) treat as alternative to ice cream. It’s sold as a ‘healthier choice’, with many kinds touting 98% fat free & rich in beneficial bacteria.
In reality, the ingredients of frozen yoghurt read more like that of ice cream. They’re not made from whole fresh milk or even proper yoghurt, rather poorly sourced and highly processed ingredients. These are further processed to create a final product that cannot compare in taste or benefit to traditional set cultured yoghurt.
Suspect ingredients include:
– Milk solids
– Milk fat
– Thickeners and stabilizers
– Culture – common ones include Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus
– Natural or artificial flavourings
– Natural or artificial colourings
– Eggs solids
– Mineral salts
– Casein – milk protein
Soy, coconut and sometimes nut milks are used as a base of non-dairy yoghurts. Sold as a lactose and casein free alternative, these yoghurts are often highly processed. Choose those with simple ingredients of milk and culture (strains of bacteria that instigate the fermentation process).
Kefir yoghurt is a fermented milk drink made with kefir grains, which are added to milk & other liquid mediums such as coconut water. Kefir grains cannot be made from scratch, but are grown during fermentation with additional grains produced. Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids and sugars, and this symbiotic matrix forms more “grains”.
This delicious sour drink is an excellent source of good bacteria.
How to Make Your Own Greek Yogurt
I grew up adding yogurt to everything I ate. It’s something that was always served on our family table alongside salt and pepper – a revered condiment. Making it at home is so incredibly easy that it may soon become a nourishing table top garnish in your own household!
Makes: 1 litre
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus setting time
Cooking time: 5 minutes
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1 litre full-fat sheep, goat or cow’s milk, plus 2 tablespoons extra
2 tablespoons homemade yoghurt or plain unflavoured yoghurt with active live cultures
1. Before you start, make sure the milk and yoghurt are both at room temperature. Heat the milk just to boiling point then pour it into a non-metal container, sitting on a towel.
2. Let it cool until lukewarm; a skin will form on top.
3. Mix the yoghurt with the extra milk then add it to the lukewarm milk, carefully pouring it down the side so that any skin that may have formed is not disturbed.
4. Gently swirl the container around to mix the yoghurt into the milk, taking care not to disturb the skin.
5. Cover with a clean tea towel and place on another towel in a warm, dry place to thicken for at least 8 hours or overnight (12 hours is best).
6. The longer the yoghurt coagulates beyond that time, the more sour the taste becomes. Carefully drain off any excess liquid (whey).
7. Spoon the yoghurt into a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate for 4 hours before using. It will keep in the fridge for 4–5 days.
8. Don’t forget to save a small amount to make the next batch!
9. If you prefer thicker yoghurt, strain it in a muslin cloth.
Greek Tzatziki Recipe
1. Peel and grate 1 Lebanese cucumber.
2. Squeeze and discard liquid.
3. Add cucumber to 1 cup of yoghurt with 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint or 1 teaspoon of dried mint, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon zest and season with natural salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
4. Mix and serve.
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Stuck for how to naturally sweeten and add flavor to your yogurt? Try the following:
– Cinnamon powder
– Vanilla powder
– Green leaf stevia powder
– Raw honey
– Maple syrup
– Pureed or chopped fruit
– Chopped nuts
Yogurt is a beautiful, rich, wholesome health food in its natural state. Yet, we must be cautious not to choose processed varieties laced with sugars, milk solids, additives, preservatives & a host of other undesirable ingredients. Stick to well-sourced and minimally processed types, organic and fresh from the farm! Better yet, become your own yogurt factory & delight in creating this revered condiment at home.