When we travel, we hit the nearest Whole Foods or Natural Grocers to stock the hotel’s mini-fridge with yogurt goodness. Unfortunately, as convenient as it is to buy, it gets a wee bit expensive and is loaded with too much sugar for everyday yogurt consumption. Just one 6-ounce container of a popular brand of plain non-dairy yogurt contains 12 grams of sugar (let’s not even examine the label of the flavored varieties). And depending on where you shop (if you can find it at all) you fork over anywhere between $1.29 to $2.99 — for 6 ounces!
Frustrated by cost and while following the sugar-restrictive candida diet, I began fooling around with making non-dairy yogurt. First I tried almond. Then hemp milk. Then rice milk. Currently I am experimenting with a seed-based variety. So far, my all-time favorite and go-to flavor has been coconut. It is so good!
Has your interest been piqued?
Well, with the right milk, the right starter, and the willingness to follow directions to a T, you can be on your way to making some of the most delicious, dairy-free yogurt you’ve ever sprinkled your gluten-free granola on.
One thing to keep in mind when making yogurt — dairy or non — is that a thickener boosts the texture tremendously. Most commercial yogurts rely on thickeners (gums, starches, pectin, etc.) for enhanced texture. Take cow’s milk yogurt for example. It is very common to add powdered milk to a batch to achieve a thicker, creamier result. The method I’ve developed for thickening nut- and seed-based yogurt is by using a mix of tapioca starch and a seaweed plant-based gelatin called agar agar.
Other key ingredients in yogurt are a dash of good bacteria (specifically lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus) and a little sugar to give that bacteria something to feed on. Starve out the good bacteria and the bad bacteria will set up camp, take over, and make some pretty nasty stuff (be forewarned).
There are a few non-dairy yogurt starters on the market that I purchase online. To date I have been the happiest with the Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter.
Okay. Now, let’s make some yogurt!
Coconut Milk Yogurt
To get comfortable with non-dairy yogurt making, I suggest starting with coconut milk. Here’s a list of what you will need.
Agar Agar Powder (not bars or flakes) — Available here and from most Asian grocery stores
Thai Kitchen® Full-Fat Coconut Milk
Vegan Non-Dairy Yogurt Starter — Mail order in U.S. from Cultures for Health
For the full recipe please head on over to Lexie’s Kitchen.
The recipe you’ll find there makes two quarts. In our home two quarts disappears within a week. We use it in smoothies, to make a creamy ranch dressing, and in sweet treats like thischocolate “cheesecake” and strawberry frozen yogurt. This morning we enjoyed it topped with a drizzle of low-glycemic Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Nectar (love this stuff!) and a sprinkle of chia seed.
When you are ready to experiment with making nut milks, move on and try almond milk yogurt next!