Yogurt (for everyone, really)
Do you remember the Dannon yogurt commercials from the 1970’s where they highlighted people who ate yogurt and lived long, healthy lives?
My favorite was the one with the 89-year old man who liked Dannon so much that he ate two.
The best line: “This pleased his mother very much.”
Why might they be suggesting that yogurt has anything to do with longevity?
It’s the culture, of course. The culture in the yogurt. Yogurt is one of our key probiotic foods. Probiotic means “for life”. And in this case we’re talking about the life of the good bacteria that helps us to not just survive, but thrive.
Our ancestors, if they did indeed survive, most likely ate probiotic foods on a regular, if not daily basis – a habit we have mostly abandoned. This included foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and, yes, yogurt!
The consistent consumption of these cultured foods helped to keep the balance between the bad bacteria, to which they were naturally exposed, and the good bacteria, that they were born with and needed to keep in ample proliferation for health. While science has provided us with more ways to combat the bad bacteria we’re exposed to, it’s more important now, than it ever has been, that we continue to build our army of good guys.
In the end (pun intended), you want to make sure the good bacteria rule.
One way to do this is by eating cultured food. Yogurt is cultured or fermented by the process of adding beneficial bacterial cultures to milk. This transforms lactose, or milk sugar, into lactic acid.
That chemical conversion is what makes yogurt tart and thick, as well as more nutritious than the milk from which it came. This bacterial modification of lactose is also what makes yogurt tolerable even to those that are lactose-intolerant.
But that’s not the case for those of us who have a milk allergy or sensitivity to one of the proteins in dairy – casein or whey – as opposed to lacking the enzyme to work with the milk sugar (lactose).
If you’re susceptible to the proteins in milk (think seasonal allergies, asthma, constipation, IBS, or you know full-well who you are…), then the yogurt, no matter how wholesome gets ditched right along with the milk shake.
Thankfully, there are now yogurts available for just about everyone… even me!
Read on to learn what to look for in a yogurt, our favorite brands at Replenish, and my go-to recipe for making yogurt at home (a favorite among many Replenish clients who had to bid adieu to dairy but still desired their daily yogurt).
And if you’re in need of some focused gut loving, colon cleansing, and perhaps an increase in ‘culture’, you’re just in time.
Retreat: A TrulyFood Autumn Cleanse is just around the corner. We begin on Monday, October 10th, and we’ll be focusing our attention on supporting and cleansing your colon, the place that the majority of the bacteria in your body calls home!
Let’s aim to bring more culture to our colons during our cleanse next week.
What to look for in your yogurt
The answer is: not much.
I like to remind people to READ THE LABEL.
We’re not looking at the Nutritional Facts, which can be deceiving, but instead at the actual ingredients. With your yogurt you want to see the milk source and the bacteria. That’s about it!
While you may have access to different brands of yogurt than I do, these same three principles are true for all…
go for organic
Don’t forget what those cows are fed goes right into their milk and your body.
I’m a firm believer that low-fat foods are processed foods. Think about it. Those foods had to be chemically altered and are no longer a Whole Food. Ultimately that means they’re more difficult for your body to break down. Really, don’t be scared of your good fats.
make it plain, Jane!
You can always sweeten your plain yogurt at home with blended fruit, fruit-sweetened jam, raw honey or a sweetener of your choice. The commercially added fruit comes along with a host of chemicals and additives to keep what’s natural from molding or rotting.
Options to Consider
Remember, this list is not exhaustive as you may have access to something I do not. Look local and you’ll likely find some gems. My favorite to date was a locally made coconut yogurt in Maui. Yum!
- Strauss Family Creamery
- Nancy’s Probiotic Greek Yogurt
- Kalona Super Natural Organic Greek
- Seven Stars Farm
- Maple Hill Creamery
- Redwood Hill Farms (they do add a bit of tapioca)
- Amande Yogurt (read the ingredients and make sure all works for you; contains some thickening agents)
- Anita’s Coconut Yogurt
- Coconut Grove (read the ingredients and make sure all works for you; contains some thickening agents and coconut sugar)
Note: I did not include some other almond and coconut yogurt brands you might be familiar with because of their inclusion of sugar, even in the unflavored varieties.
Making Your Own Coconut Yogurt
Many of my class participants are familiar with my “Cheater Coconut Yogurt” Recipe.
It’s a kitchen countertop experiment and you have to be ready for what may come. It’s success depends on your probiotics, your environment and your patience. Those who love it, do so with gusto.
Cheater Coconut Yogurt
Remember that yogurt is made by adding bacterial cultures to milk. The cultures are what create the tart flavor and thick, pudding-like consistency. Foods with live cultures have been proven to boost the immune system and aid in longevity. Here are instructions for creating your easy- to-culture yogurt from coconut milk, right on your counter-top!
To make coconut yogurt:
- Open a can of full-fat organic coconut milk and pour into a mason jar. (My favorite brand is Native Forest as they don’t use BPA in their can lining and the consistency is great for the yogurt.)
- Blend the coconut milk if necessary, to mix the cream at the top and the water at the bottom.
- Add about 5 or 6 opened probiotic capsules* into the mason jar.
- Put the lid on and give it a good shake to combine.
- Leave in a cool dark place on your countertop for three to four days, shaking the jar about two times per day.
- On the final day, the mixture should feel thick when you shake it. At that point, stick the jar in the fridge, where the “yogurt” will harden.
Note: There may be a sulfur smell when you open your jar. Don’t be scared. It could have to do with the strains in your probiotic. Taste. It may not taste as it smells.
Sweeten with fruit or raw honey, if sweetness is needed. I like to eat mine plain or with a spoonful of carob, maca and a few drops of stevia. Divine!
* At Replenish, we successfully use GutPro probiotic (either 5- 6 capsules as noted above) or if using the GutPro powder, use 1 pinch or 1 dash. If using another brand of probiotic, you’ll need to test it and experiment with the amount. Some probiotics don’t culture (which likely isn’t a good sign for the viability of that probiotic!)