Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that boost immunity, aid digestion and simply put, help you feel better than ever (read more about them here). YU may already know about probiotics (a.k.a. live, active cultures) because you know that yogurt contains these beneficial microorganisms. YU probably also know about the health dangers associated with dairy products, but since it’s the probiotics in the dairy that is what you are actually after, all you have to do, is create another food “home” for them to flourish, so you can reap the delicious benefits. Cue the recipe for Almond Chia yogurt—your dairy-free yogurt option.
Before we dive into this simple recipe, let’s go over a few things.
Life is all about balance, and that also applies to your gut and its microscopic inhabitants. Good and bad bacteria should naturally coexist in your gut—but YU want the good guys to outnumber the bad guys (keeping them in check) for vibrant health.
Benefits of probiotics/cultured foods (read more here):
• Improves digestion: fermenting/culturing pre-digests the food before we consume it and directly supplies our digestive tract with living cultures that are key to breaking down what we eat and making sure it assimilates into our system.
• Balances gut flora: say “goodbye” to constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, yeast infections, allergies and ailments like asthma (linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut)—cultured foods are loaded with the good flora our systems need to thrive (happy blue dudes above).
• Rich in enzymes: properly digest and assimilate the food/nutrients you eat with enzyme-rich cultured foods—don’t just ingest your food, absorbit.
• Shed extra lbs: most of the time, extra fat on our body is stress and toxins—improve digestion and assimilation and watch the excess go “bye bye.”
• Increased energy: consuming live, pre-digested foods adds zip to the body instead of depleting it (no labored digestion).
• Boost immunity: when bad bacteria dominates, poorly digested food (and fungus) spread around the body and can lead to ailments like leaky gut syndrome. This increases inflammation, which manifests in numerous autoimmune disorders like arthritis and diabetes. Reset the important friendly bacteria balance, and in turn charge up your immunity.
• Clear skin: friendly bacteria decrease the toxic load on our bodies—since our skin is one of the greatest outlets for toxins, you’ll see your skin repair and glow.
• Improve liver function: rid the body of toxins and help assist the liver in its cleansing functions.
• Detoxify: our beneficial bacteria pals grab hold of toxins like mercury, lead, aluminum and arsenate and makes sure they are removed from our bodies in the form of productive #2s.
• Sharp thinking/memory: it is known that our guts are our second brain (ie: “what does your gut say?”), heal the gut and say goodbye to mental fog, depression and anxiety.
Why no dairy yogurt? I thought it was good for me (find loads of important info here).
That’s what the dairy industry wants YU to believe because it fattens a bottom line. Here are some facts to consider:
• Cow’s milk is a liquid, designed by nature, to take a baby calf (not a human) from birth to 1,000 lbs in its first year of life. We are the only animals on the planet to drink the secretion from another animal on a regular basis—into adulthood no less.
• When human mothers are nursing, doctors recommend staying away from certain foods and medications because they can be toxic. Whatever mother consumes goes straight to her baby through the milk. Why wouldn’t that be the case when consuming cow’s milk containing antibiotics (that wipe out the good and bad bacteria in our bodies) and dangerous hormone boosters (notice young girls starting their periods at earlier ages these days?)
• Dairy products are incredibly acid forming (even pasture raised). In an effort to balance acidity in our cells, the body leeches calcium from our bones (alkaline) to regulate this imbalance—years of this process leads to osteoporosis. This is why countries that consume the most cow’s milk, and its by-products, also have the highest bone fracture rates.
The good news?
You don’t need dairy to enjoy yogurt. And you can make it easily at home. Whew.
A couple glass bowls
One probiotic capsule
Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why.
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews*
3 cups spring or distilled water (you don’t want chlorine-treated water)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp chia seeds
*You can substitute equal amounts of sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts for cashews. YU can also try my nut/seed-free yogurt recipe here.
Let’s get started.
Soak almonds and cashews in pure water for 8-12 hours. Rinse well and transfer to the blender.
Add 3 cups of pure water (distilled or spring) and blend until super smooth.
Strain this “milk” through a cheesecloth into a bowl—really working all liquid out of the pulp. Save pulp to make crackers, cereal or chocolate mousse!
Take your probiotic capsule…
… and open it up into your milk.
Stir with a sterilized wood or plastic spoon—no metal (probiotics don’t like metal).
Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm spot in the kitchen, away from direct sunlight.
(Behold, my fermentation station above—kombucha, sourdough starters and other goodies coming to YU soon)
Let the milk culture for 24 hours. After 24 hours, give is a good stir (it will likely separate) and taste it with a clean non-metal spoon to determine if it is ready. It should taste sour like yogurt. You shouldn’t be able to detect sweetness. If there is still too much sweet, give it more time to culture.
Once it’s ready, stir in chia seeds and let them plumpen for about 20 minutes. Transfer to the fridge to chill if you like, or go ahead and enjoy some room temp with fresh chopped berries and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Try it topped with homemade Blueberry Cherry Granola, make a potato salad with it. Have fun and share what YU try out with us.
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How do you like to enjoy yogurt? I want to hear from YU, so tell us with a comment below.
Tell us what YU think on Facebook
(I bet some folks out there in the world will be thankful you did).
Sharing rules and I sure do appreciate it.
References: Mark Bittman’s “Got Milk? You Don’t Need It” via The New York Times
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