Ahhhh yogurt, how I've missed you!
Since learning about the harms of dairy , yogurt has pretty much disappeared from my life. I figured that since most brands are loaded with sugar and that it really isn't the source of calcium that it is touted to be, that it no longer had a place in my regular diet (as it once did). To be honest it wasn't that hard to give up, but the minute I tasted this coconut yogurt, a smile spread across my face and I was a little girl again getting a scoop of my mother's homemade yogurt.
I just finished reading a wonderful book called The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates - one that I highly recommend. I may not agree with everything that she says, but there is so much great information in her book that it is definitely worth sifting through. The theme is "Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity" as is "a must-read for anyone with digestive disorders, candidiasis, chronic fatigue, cancer, AIDS, and Multiple Sclerosis". While none of those really apply to me (maybe a little candida), I am always fascinated by how food affects our bodies.
The book has an entire chapter dedicated to the powers of "Cultured Foods" (a.k.a fermented) and the author cannot stress enough how healthy this good bacteria (or "live microflora") is for healthy digestion.
We've heard a lot about probiotics these days, and how helpful they can be. Probiotics in the capsule form can be expensive and often not the quality that you need. Making your own fermented foods is a great way to get these probiotics for you and your children.
"Kefir" is typically and fermented milk drink made with cow's milk or goat's milk. The bacteria thrive off of "eating" the lactose in the milk which is then converted to lactic acid and begins the fermenting process. In Donna's book she recommends doing the same thing with the water from Young Coconuts which are loaded with healthy minerals and electrolytes.
Well, I am always up for a good food challenge so I thought I would give it a try. All I needed was 4 Young Coconuts and a Bacteria culture. I went to my local Asian store and picked up the coconuts (for about $1.50 each). On a side note to those of you who have never purchased these before, they will have a white color (the green skin has been removed) and will be wrapped in plastic. I then went to my health food store and bought a package of Kefir started (pictured below). These are not vegan, as the first ingredient is powdered skim milk. I personally don't mind the small amount of dairy (which is really quite miniscule - and the bacteria are said to remove the undesirable qualities of the milk powder), but another option (which is actually preferable) is to use true kefir "grains" for the fermenting process.
Carefully open each coconut (easier said than done I know - but you can find a video on YouTube if you like). I used a chef's knife and a mallet to create a square on the top of each coconut. Pour the water from each coconut into a bowl, and then strain it into a pitch to remove any debris of the shell.
The next step is to simply open one of the culture packets and mix it into the water with a spoon (the box I bought had 6 packets). Cover the pitcher with cheese cloth or a nut milk bag (this allows for air flow). Leave the pitcher on the kitchen counter for 2 days (at a temperature of 70-75 degrees). That's all it takes. Pour the kefir water into an air-tight container (I used Mason jars) and it will keep for weeks in the fridge.
Donna recommends that anyone suffering from digestion problems has about a cup of this water each day.
The next step is to remove the flesh from each coconut and put it into a high-powered blender. I used a small spoon that had a thin edge and simply scraped down the sides of each coconut. It is a little tedious I know, but well worth the reward.
Add about 1 cup of filtered water to the blender and puree until the coconut is very smooth. Feel free to add a little more water in order to achieve the desired consistency. The yogurt will thicken up quite a bit with the culture.
Pour in one packet of the kefir started and mix well. Cover the bowl with cheese cloth and allow it to sit a room temperature for 3 days. Stir it each day and even taste it. You will be able to see how it gets a little more sour each day. After 3 days put the yogurt into an air-tight container and store it in the fridge.
Coconut Yogurt (pictured at the top)
1/4 cup of coconut yogurt
3 TBS of Almond milk (this is simply to thin out the yogurt which was quite thick)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 packet of stevia
3 strawberries, chopped (or any fruit of your choice)
I also used about a tsp of Cherry Juice Concentrate for the nice color (and flavor)