Monday, April 30, 2012

Make Your Own Yogurt

I make my own yogurt on a regualr basis and often get lots of folks asking me how to make it. Here are the simple instructions so you can also make your own yogurt!

I like to use whole or 2% milk because I believe it is better for you than fat free. I buy raw milk at the Farmer's Market whenever it is available and make each batch of yogurt with a 1/2 gallon of milk.

First heat the milk to 180F, this takes about 10 minutes on my small gas stove. I set my timer so I don't forget about it and have it boil over! If it does by chance boil then it is OK to let it cool down and continue.

Once it is at 180F take it off the stove and pour it into a big mixing bowl. I only do this because I think it will cool down quicker this way and it is easier to stir in the starter yogurt.

Cool the milk down to 110F, I find this usually takes about 45 minutes and again I set the timer because I tend to forget about it!

Next  add some yogurt from a last batch as a starter for the next batch, 
usually 6 or 8 ounces for a 1/2 gallon of milk

Mix in the yogurt so it is smooth and not lumpy

Ladle the mixture into containers for the finished yogurt. As you can see I like to use canning jars, they are economical, just the right size and easy for me to give to family and friends!

I put all the containers in a tray that will then go in to the 200F oven. 

Heat the oven to 200F and then make sure to turn it off. 
You want to keep the yogurt warm but not too warm! 
Sometimes I put the yogurt jars in a cooler with a warmed up heating pad
 any warm place will do.

I like to cover the jars with an old towel to keep in the warmth.

Notice what time it is when you put the yogurt in the oven

and 6 to 8 hours later take it out of the oven

You can see it is firmed up after the 6 to 8 hours in the oven

I like to eat it chilled with berries, cinnamon and sometimes 
with walnuts, almonds or oatmeal.

So now you know how to make your own yogurt!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don’t be Fooled by the Labels

We go to the store to find all kinds of ‘healthy’ food and read all the fancy labels with the terms, natural, fresh and cage free that imply these foods were produced on a lovely farm with nothing but fresh air and nutrients from the soil. They want us to believe these foods are pure and natural and made with wonderfully intact organic ingredients.

Oh it is all a gimmick, it is ‘big foods’ way of trying to lure us into believing all those unhealthy, processed and packaged foods are really nutrient dense healthy foods.

Help me understand how it can be OK to put the words blueberry and pomegranate on the front of a cereal box and as well have pictures of those fresh fruits but then have nothing that even resembles either of those foods in the box of cereal.

Do you know what natural flavorings are? Really they are chemicals used to make something taste a certain way. Chemists in a lab create natural flavoring like artificial flavors and really there is nothing natural about them.  Do not be fooled by the term naturally flavored.

We get all twisted up about eating organic which can also lead us to misinformation. For instance if you are drinking organic soda, you are still drinking soda that is loaded with sugar and calories that will still spike your insulin levels and really is not any better for you than non organic soda. The other day I was buying fish and there was organic salmon in the case, which means the salmon was fed organic corn. I would prefer to eat wild caught salmon instead of farm raised or organic because it is still fed an unnatural diet of corn. Now if we are eating fruits or vegetables of course we want to eat organic but once we start processing the food eating the organic version is not that much more helpful.

Next time you are shopping for eggs, go to the Farmer’s Market and ask the farmer about his chickens.  The labels on the eggs in the grocery store says ‘cage free’ which leads me to believe these beautiful, happy chickens are communing with each other out of the cages and now have this happy little cage free life. Imagine my horror (and now yours) when we find out the term ‘cage free’ stipulates by the FDA that the chickens only be out of their cages for 5 minutes a day. They do not have to be outside and able to get fresh air either.

So you see the government and ‘big food’ want you to believe you are eating something you are not. They are trying to give us the impression that our food is all healthy and free from chemicals. Do you really thing 5 minutes a day makes a chicken cage free?

Go to your Farmer’s Markets and talk to the farmers. Ask them how they grow the food they are selling and know that you are getting what they say you are getting.  Secondly if you must buy processed foods look at the ingredients NOT the pretty pictures and descriptive words and better yet buy whole foods that do not require labels.

Thanks for letting me rant!