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Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Vegan Yogurt!

Danny mentioned a few months ago that he wanted to start eating yogurt for its probiotic benefits. At nearly $2 a container, soy yogurt was not really in his daily budget. So for his birthday I bought him the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker (I know, not your typical gift for a 24 year old guy). It's basically a covered tray that incubates the yogurt at about 100 degrees F for 8-12 hours. The basic process is as follows: bring 40 oz. of milk to a boil, remove from heat and cool to lukewarm, whisk in 6 oz. of plain yogurt with live active cultures, pour into glass containers and incubate in yogurt maker for 8 hours. After 8 hours the yogurt had a sight curdled appearance with liquid that had accumulated on the top of each jar and the yogurt tasted very sour. We refrigerated the yogurt overnight, hoping that it would firm up a bit more and taste better once it cooled. By the next morning the yogurt had not changed, but I was determined to salvage it. I found this article on "Greek-Style Soy Yogurt" on Fat Free Vegan and gave it a try. I fitted a strainer over a bowl and placed 2 large paper coffee filters in the strainer. The I poured my homemade yogurt into the filters and set it in the fridge for about 2 hours. The result: thick and creamy Greek-style soy yogurt that tasted just like the dairy version I used to love. I prepared it in my favorite way with honey, cinnamon, raisins, dates, walnuts, and hemp seeds. The only downside is that the original 42 oz. of yogurt is reduced to about 20 oz. because the liquid "soy whey" is lost after straining. This liquid is probably very nutritious, so I will have to think of a way to use it in my cooking or baking without lending a strong sour flavor. The homemade yogurt was definitely cheaper than store bought yogurt:

32 oz. container of organic vanilla soy milk from Costco: about $1 
6 oz. Whole Soy Plain organic yogurt: $1.69
TOTAL: $2.69 (still much cheaper than the 16 oz. tubs of Greek yogurt I used to buy at around $5 each)!

I can't wait to experiment with different flavors and milks (coconut yogurt...yum!)

Other recipes I tested this week that you MUST try:

  • Chocolate Mousse Tart: Another amazing recipe from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Made Easy for 1 or 2 People; completely raw, vegan, and gluten-free; a crust made of walnuts, pecans, coconut flakes, dates, and sea salt; a filling made with avocado, dates, cocoa powder, carob powder, and vanilla...sounds like heaven right? 
 fresh sugar snap peas from 
my garden complete the meal!
  • Quinoa and Sprouted Bean Salad: On my recent trip to Costco I also picked up a huge bag of organic quinoa and TruRoots Organic Sprouted Bean Trio and made this recipe from the TruRoots Facebook group page (I have already made my own adjustments below):
                Simply Sensational TruRoots Sprouted Bean Trio Salad
                Makes 4 to 6 servings
    • 1 1/2 cups sprouted beans, cooked according to package directions
    • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked 
    • ½ cup diced avocado
    • ¼ cup diced red onion
    • 1 clove garlic minced 
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • ¼ teaspoon or less of chipotle chile powder, depending on heat
    • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts: One of Jennifer Cornbleet's recipes...who knew swiss chard could taste so good raw? The swiss chard is marinated in lemon juice, which softens it, giving it a cooked quality. I also added some chopped almonds for extra crunch. 
  • Sprouted Wehani Rice: I sprouted Lundberg Wehani Rice in my Easy Sprout Sprouter, but cooked it over low heat for about 10 minutes because it was still a bit crunchy (sprouting definitely cuts down on the 1 hour cooking time!) I tossed in some maple syrup, olive, oil, cranberries, pepitas, and scallions. 
  • Sauteed Beet Greens: Don't throw out the leafy tops of your beets! They are super nutritious and taste like spinach or swiss chard when cooked. You can toss them raw into salads, but my beet greens were mature and thus a little bitter. I tweaked this recipe by subbing maple syrup for the sugar and adding a drop of liquid smoke in place of the bacon (I cooked the greens in a tsp. of coconut oil rather than bacon grease). 
This is my first summer as a CSA member and I'm loving it! I get 2 huge bags of organic local vegetables each week for just about $20 a week. You could never walk out of Whole Foods with that much for $20 (and most of it wouldn't be local!) I've been eating so many more vegetables than I usually do, and the variety each week allows me to try new recipes. Last week I got a surprise from my CSA...a pint of strawberries! Apparently the weather has caused a "bad season" for the strawberry crop on Long Island, but these were seriously the best strawberries I've ever had! Aside from joining a CSA, I recently found these articles on ways to save money eating organic and vegan:

Curing fresh olives from my aunt's farm in Sicily
...a treat from my dad's recent trip to Italy

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