Soy Yogurt

I’ve been on a journey for a while now, and it’s really not over yet.  Ever since I got married (32 years ago today!) and we decided to become vegetarian for our health’s sake, I’ve been reading books and learning everything I can about health.  With the internet, things got easier to find.  I love learning new things and I marvel at how well the Creator made us, giving us just the right food to help us live well.

Recently, I’ve been learning about how probiotics and cultured foods benefit us.  I won’t bore you with the details here.  Instead, I’d encourage you to dig into the research for yourself!  There are a lot of kinds of cultured foods out there, from sauerkraut to pickles (not the vinegar ones on the grocery shelves) to kimchee!  It’s easy to choose a favorite one to eat often.

I bought and tried cultured pickles.  They are STRONG.  I can eat them occasionally, but they aren’t something that I’m going to enjoy eating every day.  (And your best bet for getting a healthier flora in your gut is to partake of cultured foods at least daily.)

If you don’t make your own cultured foods at home, then they are pretty pricey in the markets.  I looked into making sauerkraut with wonderful jars that keep the smell from permeating your kitchen.  It looked like a really good way to make fermented foods myself, however, my favorite way of eating sauerkraut involves heating it…and that destroys the good bacteria.  Rats.  I still might make some of my own, but it won’t be my source of the healthy “bugs.”

If the sauerkraut was out, and the pickles weren’t favorites enough to eat daily (and my family wouldn’t even touch them, btw), then I needed to figure something else out.  As I googled “cultured foods” I found the answer.  Yogurt.  I love the stuff…at least most of the non-dairy ones I’ve had.  Unfortunately, it, too, is fairly expensive to buy ready made ~ and full of all kinds of stuff.  Carageenan (which I’ve recently learned isn’t that good for us), tons of sugar, and other tidbits that our bodies really don’t need.  So, back to the computer I went to see about making it myself.

I found tons of recipes, but most of them called for yogurt making machines, which I didn’t want to sink money into until I knew if this process was even going to work!  Then I found the best site yet ~ that I can’t find now to share with you, sorry! ~ one that told many different ways to ferment yogurt without the expensive investment.  This is the second best site that gave different ways to try, but doesn’t actually include the one I’m going to share with you here.

One of the challenges of making your own yogurt is beginning one with the proper culture.  Some recipes call for using probiotic capsules opened into it, but that didn’t feel very authentic to me.  Others said you needed specific starter kits from a health food store, but that they don’t work to re-use your own yogurt to make your next batch.  Instead, you’d need to buy a starter kit again!  What?  Not sustainable?  Next!  I chose the option of buying a non-dairy yogurt at the store and using it to culture my soy milk.  I chose a coconut yogurt that had 6 different bacteria listed on the label.  I figure if I’m going to repopulate my insides, I want the best amount I can get.  My first attempts were actually pretty poor, because I hadn’t found the best way to incubate it ~ I either didn’t keep it warm enough, or killed it with too warm of a spot, so I had to buy more packaged yogurt.  I again started with the 6-bacteria coconut version.  This time it worked!  Yay!  The next time, I used half of a tablespoon of my successful yogurt (with the 6 bacteria) AND half of a tablespoon from Almond Dream yogurt that contains 7 bacteria ~ a couple of which were different from the ones in my coconut yogurt!  I get the best bunch of probiotics going with so many different kinds.  And the more batches that I’ve made, the thicker the yogurt has gotten.

When you make yogurt like this, you must be patient.  (Not my strong suit.)  There are things that you must do to make it work correctly.  Believe me, because I tried the shortcuts that I thought would work.  Nope.  Stick to the “rules.”  For instance, the milk must be heated to 180° even though you have to cool it back down to 110°.  Why?  Because it changes the way the proteins line up with each other so that the bacteria can thicken it.  Otherwise, you get cultured milk….sorta.  (It was very disappointing, but I didn’t waste it.  We had it in our smoothies.)

Okay, here is the recipe.  If you have any questions about “why” something needs to be done, ask me.  I won’t bore everyone else with the details here.  🙂

Soy Yogurt

Equipment you will need:Soy yogurt equipment

  • a thermos that will hold at least 4 1/2 cups.  (I wish mine was large-mouthed to make clean up easier.  If yours is small-mouthed, get a bottle brush with which to wash it out.)
  • an instant-read digital thermometer, or one that can latch onto a small saucepan so that you get a constant reading.
  • a small 1-qt. saucepan (mine has a cute little spout on each side to make pouring into the thermos a snap!)

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. unsweetened soy milk with nothing other than soybeans and water (the other kinds sort of work, but this type thickens much better.  Trader Joe’s has it in an aseptic package, as does Eden, I believe.)
  • 1 T. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar (I’ve read that maple syrup doesn’t work, but haven’t personally tried it, and honey is antibacterial, so it will kill off the bacteria you are trying to feed.  I don’t know about agave.)
  • 1 T. room temperature packaged non-dairy yogurt, or some from your last batch.  Even if you forget to save a little before you eat it all, you can scrape out the dregs from the serving/storage bowl and use those.  It doesn’t take too much, actually!

Take your yogurt culture out of the frig to allow it to come to room temperature while you continue with the recipe.  Heat the milk in the small saucepan to 180°.  If you have used unsweetened milk with no thickeners, you won’t need to stir it, even on high heat.  (I have a ceramic stove top that doesn’t get as hot as gas or some electric stoves, though.)  If you bought a soy milk with other things in it, you’ll need to keep the heat on medium so that it doesn’t stick, and you’ll need to stir it.  At first, you can walk away for a while and just check on the milk occasionally, but once it reaches about 145-150°, you’ll want to stay right there, because it rapidly gets to the target temp.  Remove from heat once it has reached 180°, stir in the sugar, and cool in the pan until it is between 105-110°.  (If you are in a hurry, you can set the pan on a wet towel, or in a sink with cold water in it.)  Once it’s cooled, stir a little of the milk into your yogurt starter until smooth, and then stir a little more to it.  Pour the starter culture mixture into the pan of milk and stir it well.  Pour it into the thermos and screw the lid on tight.  Set it aside for several hours.

When you think of it as you walk through the kitchen, uncap the thermos to allow any built-up pressure from the bacteria growing to escape.  (Sometimes I forget, though.  Then it does whoosh a bit when I open it at the end!)  Just don’t jiggle it around a lot as it’s fermenting, as it seems to dislike that.  After about 6 hours, check to see if it is thickening by opening it and gently tilting the thermos.  If it is thick, you are ready!  The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor becomes ~ and to a certain extent, the thicker it gets.

Pour it into a glass storage container and cover.  If it isn’t as thick as you’d like, leave it to cool on the counter for an hour or two before refrigerating.  Once it is cold, it will thicken a little more.  Now you can stir in extra sweetener, mashed fruit, jam, or whatever you’d like to flavor it.  It works great as is in smoothies!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

Traditional and Radical Breakfast Ideas

To really give a kick my breakfast series, I thought I’d list some links to previous posts that are breakfast worthy.  Some are traditional items, but some are a little outside that box.  Remember, the point is to eat at least as healthfully as your box of cereal has allowed you to do.  Hopefully, a better goal is to eat more healthfully and to actually look forward to breakfast when you wake up!

Berries, Grapes, and CantaloupeSome of these recipes are gluten-free and some are not.  I am in process of recreating some of my old wheat-filled stand-bys into gluten-free versions.  I’ll post them as I have success.  I’ve marked (gf) beside the recipes that you might wonder about, but left it off of things like smoothies, which are a little more obvious that they already are gluten-free.

Meanwhile, dig in to some great breakfasts!

Continue reading

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins)

Breakfast.  It can be so boring ~ so unhealthy ~ and so expensive.  Are you stuck in a rut?  Are you tired of paying an arm and a leg for boxed cereal that has little staying power and often little true nutrition?  I am going to start a series on make-ahead breakfast recipes to take the ho-hum out of mornings.  You’ll find yourself looking forward to breakfast!  You might even want to take a look at some of your current recipes and rethink the possibility of using them for a morning meal.  Of course, I always add some fresh fruit to the meal to round it out nutritionally.

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins) 001Whether you have to eat gluten-free, or not, this breakfast cake will please you!  It was so exciting to put the first forkful into my mouth and taste how delicious it was.  The texture is moist and heavy like some decadent muffin that you might buy.  Mmmm.  In fact, Continue reading

Coconut Cream Topping

Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Cream 005If you are not happy with the vegan options for a whipped-type topping (cashew creme, tofu-based items, etc.) because they add a funny taste or texture, then this is the recipe for you!  As long as you like coconut flavor, that is.  🙂  I find it accompanies just about any dessert well, with the mild coconut flavor melding seamlessly.

These days I couldn’t be happier about eating coconut in any way possible with all the health benefits of coconut being touted.  My two favorite coconutty things to consume are Continue reading

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie SliceYes, I may indeed be a few months late posting this recipe compared to the rest of the recipe-blogging world.  Pumpkin everything is supposed to be served in the fall, right?  During the holidays, however, I was much too hurried to spend time taking photos before the pies were devoured and life rushed on.  Now, though, with winter swirling mightily around the corners of my home, pumpkin pie seemed like the kind of hearty dessert breakfast that my family needed.

*whispered*  “Did she just say pie for breakfast??”  Yes!  Yes, I did!  When you eat a Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Have you seen this meme on the internet?  Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin(http://makeameme.org/meme/Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have, it’s possible you contemplated not even bothering to come see my new recipe because you are tired of seeing pumpkin in everywhere, too.  But how could I not share a fantastic recipe with you?  Even if it is pumpkin.  🙂

Pumpkin Spice GranolaActually, this was an effort to try to convince my not-that-thrilled-with-granola family that granola can be special and just as tasty as the more expensive boxed cereals.  I think it worked at least for one of them, because I didn’t end up having to eat it all myself!

The great thing about this granola is that you put it in the oven for 6-8 hours and forget it.  Go to work, go to sleep; it will be there when you get back to it.  When you walk in the door, or get out of bed, the house will smell amazing!  Your stomach will begin to growl, and you might just decide to have a bowl of it right then before it has had much of a chance to cool off.

Pumpkin Granola

  • 10 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant oats)
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts, pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut to find in granola
  • 1/2 c. juice (apple, white grape, or another gently-flavored juice that blends well with pumpkin)
  • 1 14-16 oz. can of pumpkin puree (1 1/2 c. if you are using a pumpkin cooked from scratch)
  • 1/2 c. real maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. demerara sugar, raw sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T. vanilla (or more if you like)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Break nuts into pieces – whatever size you like to chew in your granola.  I break a walnut half into about 4 pieces, roughly.  In a large bowl, mix oats, coconut, and broken nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.

Spread evenly onto 2 large cookie sheets.  (I really need to get another stoneware baking sheet.  It works incredibly well here.)  Put on racks in oven and set it to “warm” or 175°.  Bake for 6-8 hours.  (Note:  I have allowed a similar granola to bake for as long as 12 hours before, but it does get very, very crunchy.  If you choose 6 hours, it will be moist enough that you should store it in a cold location if you won’t finish it in a week.)  Place on cooling racks.  Store in an airtight container only once it has completely cooled down.  What you eat before that is up to you!  😉

This is great served with raisins or date pieces.

Ripe Peach Blueberry Smoothie

Now that it’s fall and recipes are leaning toward pumpkin and apples, I’m going to bring you a blast from the heat of August!  So put on your sunglasses and flip flops and pretend it’s still hot outside.

Our friends brought back a huge basket of ripe South Carolina peaches for us twice this year.  They were so juicy and amazing!  This was one of the things I made with them.  They were so ripe that you could just cut them in half (across the equator of the peach), twist them apart, and scoop them out with a spoon (the skin was very thick and didn’t do well in the blender.)  I threw them in granola, smoothies, fruit salads, cobblers, crisps, and ice cream.

I thought I had posted this during the summer so you could make it with ripe peaches, but apparently I was wrong.  However, if you froze some of the fruit of your summer bounty, you can thaw them now and go from there, remembering the sweet tastes of summer.

Ripe Peach Blueberry Smoothie

Ripe Peach Smoothie

  • 2-3 very ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and scooped out of the peel
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 2 kale leaves, stems removed OR 1/4 c. of loose flat parsley leaves (this gives a peppery taste)
  • 1/2 c. (approximately) frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c. (approximately) frozen pineapple (optional)
  • 3-4″ piece of celery, roughly cut into a few pieces to help the blender
  • 2 T. ground chia seeds (or flaxseeds)
  • stevia or other sweetener, to taste (I use a few sprinkles)
  • non-dairy milk as needed (I prefer coconut) ~ I rarely needed any with the ripe peaches

Place the peaches in the bottom of the blender, because they will become the liquid for the rest of the smoothie.  Throw in everything else and blend thoroughly.

This makes one very large smoothie, or 2 smaller ones.

Piña Colada Millet Pudding for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOWelcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I have left you my dish to enjoy (ah, the marvels of technology that allows me to schedule a post days in advance), but I won’t be joining you until tonight or tomorrow.  (I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and we spend the day in worship, rest, and family time from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  While this kind of potluck is hardly work, it is something that I focus on intently when I wade through the marvelous recipes, ignoring everything and everybody else completely.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to wait until later.)  Have a wonderful time!  🙂

Most of my pudding recipes are made from non-dairy milk, flavorings, and cornstarch/arrowroot.  While they are extremely tasty, they aren’t as nutritious as they are just plain old dessert.  I decided to mess around with a millet pudding that has some whole grain goodness along with dessert properties.  Then I don’t feel as guilty when I eat a large helping!  And my hungry, hungry teens get more nutrients for their vast calorie intakes.

That being said, don’t think that this dessert is so healthy that it doesn’t taste like dessert…it is wonderful!  You can adjust the sweetness as you desire as long as you use a dry type of sweetener.  Increase, decrease – it shouldn’t affect the overall performance.

Pina Colada Pudding smallPiña Colada Pudding

  • 1 c. millet, rinsed and drained
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz.)
  • 1 can pineapple in it’s own juice, undrained* (20 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I have had good success substituting half of this with 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder ~ and it likely would work with all stevia using 1/2 tsp.)

In a heavy-bottom pan, simmer the millet in the water with the salt for about 30 minutes, turning the heat down as the water begins to be absorbed by the millet.  Cover it with the lid askew to keep it from boiling over.  Keep a close eye on this, because it can all of a sudden scorch – or boil over – if you aren’t turning the heat down soon enough.  If there is any water left after 30 minutes, you will need to continue cooking it for a while.  A lot depends on how hot your simmer is and how heavy your pot is.  If it begins to stick to the bottom, but still seems a bit damp, remove from the heat and cover completely with the lid.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and it will loosen from the bottom and finish cooking, absorbing the rest of the water.  Let cool with lid on for about 15 minutes so that you aren’t trying to blend super hot ingredients.  (Another option is to cook your millet in the oven, covered, overnight at 200°.  It will be perfectly fluffy in the morning and can be blended after a 15 minute cooling period.)

While the millet is cooking, blend the rest of the ingredients in a large capacity blender (56 oz.)  Add the warm millet and blend until the pudding is smooth.  (This makes for a VERY full blender.  If you have a smaller blender or just want to make sure you have enough room in a large blender, you will need to do this in batches with half of the pineapple/coconut mixture and half of the millet.)  Pour into a serving bowl or individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.  Chill thoroughly.

*This makes a soft pudding.  If you like a thicker pudding that is closer to sliceable, drain the pineapple first, but it may take longer to blend this way.

vvp Thanks for coming To visit the blog ~ Healthy Slow Cooking ~ that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here!
~!To visit the blog ~ Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen ~ that follows mine in the Potluck, click here!
To start at the beginning of the Potluck (there are about 170 of us this time!), click here!

IF there are folks who did NOT post for the vegan potluck like they were supposed to, and you cannot find links to the next blog in line, please, please, please, go to the beginning of the potluck (link is just above this paragraph) and you can click on missing links from there so that you don’t miss any of the marvelous recipes of those bloggers who DID post correctly.

Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes

We’ve all heard the horror stories about gluten-free pancakes.  I didn’t want any I might make to become another statistic of wasted ingredients thrown into the garbage because the results were abysmal.  While my family is eating “normal” pancakes, I don’t want to chew on cardboard frisbees or disintegrating messes of grainy goo.

If you’ve been reading my other gluten-free posts, you know I am also not a fan of the weird ingredients of starch this and gum that.  My family is accustomed to whole wheat everything, so a hearty replacement is necessary for my palate.  I’m not a fan of white flour anything.

I took my tried-and-true wheat pancake recipe and messed around with different flours.  Although my first attempt could have used some more salt, they were very good.  Fluffy texture, hearty taste…though a little more fragile than typical wheat pancakes.  The next batch I added ground chia seed and extra liquid.  That took care of their fragility!  I’m very happy with the final results.

Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes

  • 1/4 c. millet flour
  • 1/2 c. buckwheat flourGluten-free Pancakes
  • 1/2 c. brown rice flour
  • 1 T. ground chia seed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. baking soda, sieved
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. baking powder, sieved
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 3/4 c. + 2 T. juice, such as organic apple or white grape
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp. non-flavored oil (I use extra light olive oil)
  • optional – sweetener to taste.  I find the juice is enough for me with sweet toppings

Whisk the flours, chia seed, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and egg replacer powder together in a mixing bowl.  Whiz the oats with the juice, milk, and oil in the blender.  Whisk the liquid with the dry ingredients for 30 seconds or so until bubbly.  Let rest for a minute while you heat the griddle to 300° F.  It will thicken up as it rests.

Pour 1/4 c.-sized pancakes blops from the batter onto the hot griddle.  Make sure you leave enough space between them for spreading out.  When they begin to be a little dry around the edges, flip them over.  When they are toasty brown on the underside, remove them to a serving plate.