How to Make Greek Yogurt

We eat a substantial amount of plain yogurt.  I, like my mother before me, have trained my kids to eat it with just a little honey or jam stirred in.  This cuts the sugar way down, especially if you make your own low-sugar freezer jam.

By making our own yogurt, we save a great deal on the grocery budget and can have delicious, probiotic breakfasts all week long. Topped with granola and some dried cherries, its the perfect start to any day.

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Yogurt
Makes 2 quarts or 1 ½ quarts Greek-style

2 quarts whole milk (can substitute low-fat, but texture will be thinner)
2 Tbsp plain yogurt (must have live/active cultures)

Method:

 Heat the milk in a saucepan or pressure cooker on yogurt setting, stirring often, until it reaches 180° F.  Hold at that temperature for at least 2 minutes.

Allow milk to cool until it reaches 108-113°F.

Stir in 2 Tbsp yogurt and whisk until fully combined.

Place milk in tub of yogurt maker or pressure cooker and follow manufacturer’s instructions for incubation.  This process should take 4-8 hours. Finished yogurt will have thickened substantially.

Strain, if desired.*

Remove from maker, cool and refrigerate.

*For Greek yogurt, strain using a bullion strainer or a colander/sieve lined with cheesecloth.  Whisk to smooth out the texture after straining.  You can save the whey for use in breads or as a probiotic beverage.

Options for a thicker yogurt:

  • Strain (see above) the final product
  • Whisk 1-2 tsp unflavored gelatin into the cold milk before heating
  • Whisk ½ to 1 cup powdered milk to cold milk before heating (will change taste of final product)

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Cranberry Peach Smoothie

Last night’s smoothie was so great I had to share it!  It was born of a need to decrease the freezer content. Putting something new in the freezer has become a joke around here, with all the food preservation and freezer meals we have crammed in there.  So, we are going to work on using ingredients and meals we already have frozen in the next few weeks. This smoothie is working on our load of cranberries and peaches hiding out in the deep freezer. My daughter claimed it tasted like a milkshake, so it’s definitely a win-win!

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Cranberry-Peach Smoothie
2 cups coconut milk or other dairy or non-dairy milk
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 a banana
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp real vanilla
2 peaches, frozen (just estimate if you have sliced frozen peaches. Mine
are in halves so it’s easy to count this way)
4 large strawberries, frozen
2 large handfuls cranberries, rinsed (approx 1/3 cup)

Layer all ingredients in order listed in high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Makes 3 large servings or 4 medium-sized servingsIMG_1595.JPG.

Tropical Peach Smoothie

Monday mornings (or any weekday mornings for that matter) very often call for breakfast through a straw around here.  We are still a little groggy from the rude awakening of the alarm clock, and not moving quickly enough for a leisurely breakfast.  Enter: the smoothie.  IMG_0928

If you do the smoothie right, it is a balanced breakfast that can be consumed quickly, or grabbed for an on-the-go, carpool-driving ma.  I do recommend an unbreakable cup with a lid for the latter occasions:

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The key to a nutrient dense smoothie is a balance between carbs (think fruit and veggies), protein (think yogurt, nuts or nut butter) and fat (think full-fat dairy, coconut oil or some seeds).  If you load your blender with only carbs, you’ll be hungry much sooner.

The trick to a quick-blending, smooth smoothie is layering.  A good, high-powered blender definitely helps too, especially if you’re blending flax or other seeds into your smoothies.  (Note: I do not personally recommend the Ninja brand.  I’m a Vitamix girl myself and would recommend a Blendtec , a Breville or a Cuisinart as alternatives.)

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Add all liquid ingredients to the bottom of the blender first.  Then add the soft solids, like yogurt, nuts and seeds.  Next comes fresh fruit, in this case it’s peaches.  Finally add your frozen ingredients such as frozen fruit or ice cubes.  Now, just blend it up on smoothie setting and you’re set to go.  If your blender doesn’t have a smoothie setting, simply turn it on low for a few seconds and then increase the speed up to high over the next 3-5 seconds.  Blend on high until the desired consistency is reached.  Layering, along with the right balance of soft to solid ingredients, should eliminator the need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides (in most blenders).  Now just add a straw and breakfast is served.  (Note: these straws are the recommended version for smoothies and shakes because they are larger in diameter, but we find the originals work just fine for our needs.)

Tropical Peach Smoothie

1 cup coconut milk beverage (can also use almond milk or dairy milk)
2 cups yogurt (I use full-fat for that nutritional balance)
3 medium peaches, peeled
1 cup mango chunks, frozen
1/2 cup pineapple chunks, frozen

Layer ingredients into your blender in the order listed and blend either on smoothie setting or as described above.  Sip through a straw for the full tropical experience!