I love adding plain yogurt to everything. I feel it makes both sweet and savory dishes more creamy, tasty, interesting, and enjoyable. I add a spoonful or two of thick plain yogurt to carrot or beet soups, to lentil or vegetable stews, to baked sweet potatoes, bowls of warm porridge, and even a slice of banana bread. Yup. I’m not joking when I say I add it to everything.
But let me clarify something before you imagine something that isn’t so. When I say I add yogurt to everything, I’m talking about coconut yogurt. There was a time when I used to love adding greek or Bulgarian yogurt to my dishes, back when I still ate dairy all the time (I was the biggest cheese addict that ever lived!). But these days I’m off dairy most of the time and luckily, I have been able to transition my yogurt-loving ways into a dairy-free version seamlessly.
Even though coconut yogurt is absolutely delicious, there’s one problem that I find with most of the commercial brands out there: they are packed with chemicals and preservatives. Just look at the ingredient list of most of the coconut yogurts out there, and you will understand what I’m talking about. I’m blessed to live in NYC where we have unlimited options, and even here, with so much variety, there’s only one brand of coconut yogurt that lives up to my standards. I’m so passionate about it that I compare it to my dog (because they both make everything better). It’s called Anita’s and it only has two ingredients: coconuts and probiotics. If you happen to live in New York and have access to it, then just buy it and live happily ever after. For the rest of the people out there, however, there is hope. You can make your own yogurt at home!
I made this coconut yogurt as an experiment, because I work at a raw, organic, vegan store where we sell young thai coconut meat, yogurt and kefir starters, and yogurt-making machines. Many of our customers and my co-workers make their own yogurts and have shared recipes with me, so I thought it was time I put at least one of them to good use. The result was not quite like the luscious, thick-like-pudding coconut yogurt I’m crazy about that I described above, but more like a kefir, with that slight sour/fermented taste. If you’re confused about the difference between yogurt and kefir, take a look at this chart. So not what I was aiming at, but I still really enjoyed it, especially when mixed with some ripe sweet fruit like chopped mango for breakfast.
You can try this super easy recipe, or experiment with a yogurt or kefir starter, or by adding probiotic capsules to your coconut/water mix instead of yogurt (@MissTheo from www.livegreensupreme.com has a wonderful recipe for this and variation suggestions in her blog). You can also take a look at all of the different yogurt making machines in the market and see if that’s something that appeals to you and you would like to invest in. Whatever you choose, I really recommend trying to make your own yogurt at least once so you can see how easy it is, and so you can keep making it if you don’t have good, natural options to chose from.