12 Feb 2013
When I was younger my mom would buy these thick fruited yogurts. At first they were for her, but as I grew a bit and was able to reach the top shelf in the refrigerator, I started to lay claim to the gold-lidded cylinders. Ripping back the top of the lid revealed this unblemished, smooth pastel surface. There was something comforting and familiar about dipping my spoon in and pulling out that first bite, dislodging it from its plastic container. Vanilla and strawberry were the favorites, and both provided an unduly creamy consistency that spread across my tongue and I spooned mouthful after mouthful in the early morning hours.
While I still enjoy fruited yogurts, there’s no denying that perhaps the best way to start my day is not by loading up on sugar in my coffee and sugar in my yogurt. The crash that comes after my body has those in my system is bound to be greater because that is the only thing in my stomach. The same goes for my kids. Sending them out the door loaded up on sugared cereals and yogurt just isn’t the right way to start their first hours of school or to get them through to lunchtime.
The revelation that routines need to be modified is a difficult one. No one wants to give up the things they enjoy, those things that start their day off in a recognizable and reassuring way. In order to change the ruts that habits fall into, I try to trick my mind into believing that nothing has changed.
As an example, I started drinking coffee quite young, always with sugar and cream. To get off sugar, I simply added less and less and less, until one day I added no sugar at all and still enjoyed my coffee all the same as when I was stirring in a full teaspoon of it. The routine of drinking coffee didn’t change, but what I was putting into my body did. Breakfast is a great place to start removing extra sugars from your diet. They are hidden in pancakes and French toast, loaded into pre-sweetened yogurts, sprinkled over oatmeal, and stirred into teas and coffee. Rather than relying on refined sugars to start your day, try sweetening your world with a bit of something less processed: a spoonful of pure maple syrup, a drizzle of honey.
Eating yogurt still feels the same to me. Breaking into a creamy cup holds all the nostalgia that it once did, but today I’m loading up cups of homemade plain yogurt with whole grain cereals and fresh fruit. Extra sweetness is drizzled on in wisps of golden honey, and my days are better for it, from beginning to end.
Thick Homemade Yogurt
1/2 gallon milk
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt with live active culture
Pour the milk into a non-reactive saucepan. Slowly bring the milk up to 170º F. Once the milk reached 170º F, turn the burner off and stir the milk off the heat until it is 110º F. Pour a bit of the warm milk into the yogurt and stir into a thick cream. Pour the cream-like yogurt into the milk and stir until blended.
Pour all of the milk into a large bowl or container. To set the yogurt, the mixture needs to be kept around 110º F for 4 to 12 hours. Yogurt becomes thicker and more tangy the longer it sits at 110º F. It can sit in the oven if you have a setting that low, or in a yogurt maker. Some people have put the yogurt in slow cookers that have a warm/low setting that holds at the appropriate temperature or in a cooler lined with heating pads.
Once the yogurt has sat the desired length of time, remove any skin that formed across the top. (For thinner yogurt, you can spoon the yogurt directly into jars and place in the refrigerator until chilled. Then eat at your convenience.) For thicker yogurt, place a strainer above a large bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth. Pour the set yogurt over the cheesecloth and allow to strain. Set the bowl in the refrigerator and wait 2-3 hours for Greek-style thick yogurt. Spoon the yogurt into jars, lid, and refrigerate until ready to eat.
NOTE: Homemade yogurt should be consumed within a few days of making it.
Berry Breakfast Parfaits
4 ounces plain yogurt
1/4 cup Uncle Sam Original Cereal
1/4 cup sliced strawberries
2-3 teaspoons honey
Layer all ingredients, stir, and enjoy.
ShainaCheck out my latest posts here