Friday, 1 October 2010

Yogurt - It Does a Body Good

Photo from HeightSecrets.com
By now we are all aware of the health qualities of yogurt. Active yogurt is rich in friendly bacteria that aid in digestion and good health, and the fermented aspect of this dairy product makes it much more digestible and easier for the body absorb the nutrients in milk. Plus it is delicious. A win-win-win really.
But do you know just how versatile yogurt is? How you can add yogurty goodness to any meal?
Pat Crocker has come out with an entire book dedicated to this work-horse of the dairy, 200 recipes and tons of health information on the nutraceutical benefits of yogurt and other whole, natural foods.

The Yogurt Bible
Pat Crocker
Paperback, 317 pages

For those seeking to add a bit of culture to their lives

The author uses this yogurt incubator, as do I. (Donvier) They all work pretty much the same, their basic function is to keep the pots at about 116°F for an extended period of time, until your starter (generally a dollop of leftover active yogurt) inoculates the milk. Then you chuck them into the fridge. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Many people use other methods, like a low oven, heating blanket, or they live in hot climates that do the work for them. In Canada, I find having a yogurt maker to be very helpful.

The book starts off with several basic and flavoured yogurt recipes, that you can make in your incubator. It also gives tons of toppings recipes and ideas, before going into Starters, Soups, Salads, Dressings, Mains, Sauces, Desserts, and Beverages.
In the Starters section, I tried out the Creamy Red Pepper Spread. Simple and delicious, this uses Yogurt Cheese as the base for a creamy and healthy dip/spread. This was a huge hit with my husband.

Yogurt is a natural in salad dressings, here it gives lovely tang to Shredded Chicken with Minted Lime Yogurt Dressing. If anything, I wish I had doubled the dressing. The noodles sucked it up. So healthy, and so delicious!

The Caramelized Pear and Onion Flatbread also uses Yogurt Cheese, as well as some feta, to give a tangy base to delicious caramelized onions and pears. Yum!

Of course the East Indian cultures have known the benefits and versatility of yogurt for centuries, and this Sweet Potato Vindaloo makes for a delicious vegetarian main - the yogurt tempering the spices beautifully.

And it wouldn't be a yogurt book without frozen yogurt! There are lots of dessert recipes and ideas but I went with the classic Fro-yo - a delicious Mocha Frozen Yogurt for my husband the coffee nut. Yogurt gives such a lovely tanginess to frozen desserts.

Making your own yogurt means that you have control over the quality - everything from the type of milk, to fat content, and, of course, additives. Have you ever read the packages of flavoured yogurts in the stores? Scary. Making your own is healthy, easy, and delicious.