package free: coconut yogurt

Coconut yogurt

Coconut yogurt was something that took me FOREVER to master.  I was using Minimalist Baker’s recipe to start out with (which is JUST coconut milk and probiotics), but I could never get it right.  It would always end up too thin, and the flavor of the canned coconut milk tasted kind of “tinny” to me (I tried over 10 times and even the exact milk and probiotic she used).  Then one of you lovely readers told me about Miyoko’s recipe for vegan soy yogurt- she blends with cashews for thickness, creaminess and depth of flavor.  I did that with my coconut milk and OMG!  100% success and perfection.  My favorite 2 brands of canned coco milk: Field Day and 365 organic (the Whole Foods generic store brand).   Check out my instagram for a whole story highlights reel showing the variety!  One of you lovely readers told me you subbed pumpkin seeds for the cashews and it turned out great, too.  Another person said they used fresh young coconut meat and macadamias and that worked well too!

I use this coconut yogurt mainly for burcha breakfasts, kids snacks (with a little spoon of jam), and easy crema/sour cream.  Simply whisk some yogurt with a little lime zest, salt, and optional garlic with enough water to thin to your desired consistency.  Add a little cucumber, garlic and dill for a great tzatziki.  This makes the perfect dollop for curries, mujaradda, grain bowls, pureed soups, enchiladas, beans, tacos, you name it.  The kids enjoy a scoop with homemade chia jam and fresh fruit + sprouted crunchy buckwheat.

vegan bowl breakfast coconut yogurt

the yogurt with fruit and crunchy seeds

The most important thing about this recipe is using the highest quality probiotics you can afford.  If you already have store bought live culture yogurt in your fridge, you can also use a few tablespoons of that to start it instead of probiotics.  What I’ve been doing to prolong my probiotics is saving a few tablespoons of my last batch to culture my new batch.  I used this 90 billion count probiotic from a friend who kindly shared a few capsules from her bottle for me to try.  I’ve made about 5 subsequent batches now from the resulting original yogurt, which is about as many as you can get from it before you need to start with a new batch adding fresh probiotics.  I’ll probably buy a different one next, but stick within the 90 billion + count.  Healthforce has a good looking one in glass with a metal cap.

probiotic

The first time I tried with a lower count probiotic from my store and it did not work, but I tried again with extra capsules and it was good, but not as good as the 90 billion count.  Sometimes stores also sell non dairy yogurt starters, and you can use that, too.  If, for some reason, yours doesn’t set up properly and is thin, don’t toss- save to add to smoothies, freeze in ice cubes to use later, or drink it!

UPDATED to note:  I have gotten so many mixed reviews for this.  Some of you with beautiful results and some of you that it didn’t work for.  Make sure you use the cashews, make sure that it’s blended SUPER smooth, make sure your probiotics are active, and keep experimenting with it.  Fermentation is more of an art than a science and so many factors affect it- temperature, humidity, probiotic to name a few.

simple coconut yogurt (yields about 2 cups) 

ingredients:

1 can of full fat coconut milk OR 1.75 cups fresh homemade thick coconut milk

1/4 cup cashew pieces, soaked in hot water for a few hours- if you have a vita mix you can just soak about 15 minutes (update: I skip the soaking now)

2 high quality probiotic capsules

method:

Blend the coconut milk and the drained, soaked cashews in a blender until totally smooth.  The milk should get a little warm from this process.  Make sure it is not too hot or it will kill the probiotics.  Empty the probiotic capsules into the blender (just the powder inside) and blend for a second or two just to combine.

Pour into a clean jar, making sure to leave at least 2 inches of space in case of expansion.  Cover with a clean cloth napkin or kitchen towel and secure with a rubber band.

yogurt zero waste coconut

plain on the left and turmeric chili on the right

Leave out on the counter, away from direct light, in a preferably warmer place in the house- this will help it culture best.  After 24 hours, check the taste and texture.  My husband and kids prefers it at this stage, its mild and lightly tangy, like a regular store yogurt.  If you like how it tastes now, simply put a lid on it and refrigerate!  It will thicken more as it cools.  I like it with a little more tang, so I let mine culture another few hours, which results in a sour, slightly funky taste which I really like!

This will keep in the fridge about 2 weeks.

Et voila, homemade creamy coconut milk yogurt.  I haven’t tried with almond milk or soy milk, but let me know if you do!  I think it should still work but may not be as thick.

coconut yogurt thick easy vegan

 

 

a fall meal prep: basics edition

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If you can squeeze in a little time on the weekend, do this: head to the market and pick up fresh, seasonal fruits, veggies and greens.  Wash them and store them so that they are ready to use.  Then make a few basics- these will vary depending on your preferences.  For us, I like to make: a vinaigrette, a pot of beans, a pot of grains, hummus, baked tofu, and almond milk.  Maybe a baked good or snack too, if I’m feeling ambitious.  Having these things on hand and ready to go makes eating healthy really easy.  Here’s our basics for this week.

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vinaigrette:

1/2 cup ACV

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallot

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

salt and pepper

whisk all ingredients together and store in a mason jar in the fridge.

pot of beans: chickpeas this week, a double batch (one for hummus and one for eating whole).  3 cups chickpeas soaked overnight, drained, and cooked until tender with salt.

pot of grains: barley this week, 2 cups of the pearled variety, simmered in a pot of boiling, salted water (like pasta) for 40 minutes or until tender.  good for grain salad, morning porridge, as a side, in soup.

hummus: beet hummus this week.  I toasted some pine nuts, too, to serve on top.  a great healthy snack and delicious dolloped on a salad.

baked tofu: super simple, just slice a block or two of super firm up and bake plain or rubbed with olive oil at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes on parchment/silicone mat.  Menawhile, mix up 2 tablespoons of tamari with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a large minced garlic clove.  Remove from oven and drizzle with the tamari mixture while still hot.  Let cool and pack in a glass container to store, making sure to pour in any tamari left in the pan.

almond milk: I’m not sure if anyone even needs a recipe, but it’s 1 cup of almonds soaked overnight.  Drain in the morning and add to a high speed blender with 1 medjool date, pinch of salt, and 4 cups of water.  You can add vanilla too if you like.  Blend on high until smooth and pour through a straining bag- I simply use my organic cotton produce bags to strain and it works great.  You can use cashews, too, without soaking or straining since they are a softer nut.  Same with hemp seeds.

chocolate bark: what’s life without chocolate?  Having this satisfying crunchy little bite in the fridge is a life saver.  Just melt 8 oz. of dark (70% +) chocolate in a bowl set over a small pot of boiling water.  Turn off the heat and mix in whatever flavorings you like- chipotle, orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, mint extract, almond extract- or keep it plain.  Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spread in an even layer as thinly or thickly as you like.  Sprinkle over toasted nuts, seeds, or anything else you want- freeze dried fruit, goji berries, hemp seeds, pepitas, hazelnuts, flaky sea salt, chopped crystallized ginger, cacao nibs- and place int the fridge until set, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from fridge and break up into 1 oz or so pieces.  I store it in a glass snaplock container in the fridge so it stays snappy.

wash/prep veggies: wash and cut up carrots for snacks.  Wash, dry and store kale, lettuce, spinach, and chard.  Wash, dry, and cut up cauliflower or broccoli or brussels.  This way, everything is ready to use and eat.

Spending a bit of time prepping is a great investment in the week ahead.  When you have things made in the fridge, it’s so much easier to stay on track with healthy eating and stress less when things (inevitably) get crazy during the week.  Even if you only have time to wash your greens and make a batch of dressing, it’s worth it!  Hope you enjoy and be sure to tag me in your meal prep on Instagram @mamaeatsplants !

 

 

 

 

 

zero waste bathroom.

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note: see this post for a more in depth/updated look at our bathroom 

Zero waste can seem like an elite, ableist idea full of promise yet unattainable in today’s fast paced life.  Since we currently operate in a linear economy where things are specifically manufactured to eventually end up in a landfill (as opposed to a circular one where things are re-used, recycled, up cycled and repaired indefinitely), its easy to get frustrated and give up on trying to change all together.  Our family has had our ups and downs of moving towards a more waste free life.  I realized that 1. everybody in your house needs to be on board with the changes in order to make the most meaningful change, and 2. every change you can make, no matter how small, adds up over time.  Please don’t give up on even starting just because it seems way too challenging.  Its really not, and its SO rewarding to live in alignment with your values and the earth.  So, I thought it would be a good idea to try to touch on areas of our life and home, one by one, and show you how we easily have shifted to better alternatives.  A chunk at a time.  Here’s my zero waste bathroom cupboard essentials.

1.Bamboo toothbrush- Did you know that about 1 BILLION plastic toothbrushes are tossed into the landfill (aka our beautiful earth) every year just in the US?  That’s 50 million pounds of just toothbrushes!  There are so many bamboo toothbrushes on the market that have compostable handles.  We currently use the brush with bamboo toothbrush which comes in compostable/recyclable packaging.

2. Homemade toothpaste- We’ve been doing this for years and loving it.  Its easy, cheap, works well (approved by our family dentist!) and I don’t have to worry about my kids accidentally swallowing some because its all edible ingredients.  Here’s our recipe.  You can adjust to your preferences of consistency, sweetness, flavor etc.  You can leave out the clay if you want- it has minerals and detoxifying properties which is why I use it.  You can also sub xylitol for the stevia for even more cavity fighting power.

3. Floss in a refillable, recyclable container- I buy our floss from a small US company called Dental Lace that sells floss in a small glass vial with a metal lid, and separate refill spools.  All recyclable and compostable packaging.  The floss itself is 100% silk, so it is compostable.  You can also pull silk threads from a thrifted or old silk scarf to floss with, a la Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home .  Most conventional floss is coated with Teflon-like chemicals that make it glide easier between your teeth.  These chemicals end up in your mouth and therefore your body.  Plus, when you throw the floss away, those chemicals end up making their way into waterways and soil!

4. Copper tongue scraper- I love my tongue scraper.  It makes my mouth way fresher.  I like to use a copper one because the ones at the store usually have plastic handles, and copper is bacteria resistant.  Pick one like this up from Etsy and nicely request no plastic packaging in the note to your seller.

5. Homemade mouthwash- Same reasons as homemade toothpaste, but also because conventional mouthwashes are loaded with crappy ingredients, dyes, alcohol, chemical agents, etc.  One time I was using a Crest brand mouthwash and it STAINED MY TEETH GRAY over time!!!!!  I had to have it all scraped and polished off by the dentist.  He said chemicals in mouthwash can interact with your own personal strain of oral bacteria to cause this staining sometime.  UGH.  After that I started making my own.  Just 500 ml distilled water + 30 drops peppermint oil and 15 drops clove essential oil , stored in amber colored glass bottle – I use an old kombucha bottle.

6. Safety razor- aka how people used to shave before Gillette and other ripoff companies started the myth of a “smoother” shave with ridiculous amounts of expensive blades, creams, and other shaving accoutrements.  I bought ours (my husband and I share one) from Amazon about 7 years ago, along with a pack of 100 (!!) blades.  This cost us 42 dollars and we still haven’t used up all the blades.  I was scared to use it at first but it operates just like any other razor.  Easy and shaves close.  Here’s the razor and here’s the blades.

7.  Toilet paper- TMI?  Probably, but it is a real issue that we all have to deal with.  Normally, TP comes all packaged up in a giant plastic wrap.  I bought a bidet from Amazon years ago and so I use that + cloth wipes (left over from when my son was a baby and we used them instead of disposable wipes) for #1.  For #2, I use actual TP, which I buy in bulk at my local coop.  I buy the kind that comes individually wrapped in paper, like this and it all comes in a large recyclable/reusuable paper box.  Since I buy a case of it at a time, I get a 15% off discount, too.

Also, for further Zero Waste inspiration, please check out: Zero Waste Home , Paris To Go , Trading Waste For Abundance , and Trash is for Tossers .