Yogurt that hearts you

SCD/paleo/AIP coconut yogurt

SCD/paleo/AIP coconut yogurt – honey heart optional ūüėČ

Tonight when K offered me a snack, I asked her to bring me a bowl of my coconut yogurt with a drizzle of honey. I heard her dishing it up, and I heard her opening the cupboard where the honey is… and then I heard a lot of concentrating. Yes, I know K well enough to know the sound of her concentrating – even (and especially) when she’s being silent about it!

“You’re making a heart!” I shouted¬†from the lounge.

“What?! How did you know?”

Well, as I always like to remind K, I know everything ūüôā And I definitely know the sound of her turning my food into heart shapes.

And in case you were interested – yes, the yoghurt was especially delicious¬†because it takes about half a bottle of honey to make a heart ūüėČ

Here’s the recipe for my homemade coconut yogurt – SCD, paleo and AIP friendly. Honey-heart optional!

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Easy homemade coconut yoghurt – SCD/paleo

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**Update: If you find that your yoghurt separates after refrigerating, give it another whizz with the stick blender to re-incorporate the coconut cream (which will have risen to the top in a thick, hard layer) with the gelatine. Return to the fridge for a few more hours to firm up.

 

I LOVE my SCD coconut and cashew yogurt (recipe here), which I eat most nights after dinner, drizzled with honey. However, when my nutritionalist instructed me to start following the autoimmune paleo protocol, she said that nuts were out (sob!).

I knew this was going to be a tough transition and I especially didn’t want to give up my yoghurt. However, she did recommend that I try to eat coconut milk every day. Very quickly I decided to try to make the yoghurt¬†without the cashews, and after a failed attempt or two, I think I’ve finally perfected it.

It has the right¬†yogurt consistency as well as¬†the¬†sour tang that indicates that the probiotics are active. For some this is an acquired taste, but for me, it is reminiscent of one of my long-lost loves, cheese cake ūüėČ

Remember to factor in 24 hours for incubating and refrigerating.

Homemade SCD/paleo coconut yogurt

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag, cheesecloth/muslin or a clean, unused stocking
  • Mesh¬†sieve
  • Yoghurt maker

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Boiling water
  • 1 x 10g sachet of gelatine powder + 1/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 5 probiotic capsules/ 1/8tsp live yoghurt cultures (lactose free if need be)

Method

Place the coconut into your blender and fill with boiling water (you should aim to use about 1 litre of water).

Blend for several minutes, pulsing at first to break up the mixture (it gets quite lumpy).

Place the sieve ‘into’ the nut milk bag (so that the sieve is covered), place over a large clean pot, and pour the blended mixture through. The aim is to capture all the milk and none of the pulp.

Allow to drip until cool enough to handle, and then with clean hands, squeeze the remainder of the milk from¬†the pulp. It will look a little like you’re milking a cow.

Mix the gelatin with 1/4 cup of room-temperature water. Allow to sponge for five or ten minutes, until firm.

Add the vanilla extract, honey, probiotics (open the capsules and pour the powder out) and gelatine to the milk, and blend very well with a stick blender.

Pour into the sterilised bowl/container of your your yoghurt maker, place it into the yoghurt maker, and allow to incubate for 12 hours.

After 12 hours, give the yoghurt a good stir as the gelatin tends to clump up. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours to set.**

Serve with grain free cereal, add to curries, soups or smoothies, or simply enjoy on its own, drizzled with honey.

** If you find that your yoghurt separates after refrigerating, give it another whizz with the stick blender to re-incorporate the coconut cream (which will have risen to the top in a thick, hard layer) with the gelatine. Return to the fridge for a few more hours to firm up.

SCD coconut yogurt

SCD coconut yogurt

Day 90: SCD challenge complete – a review of the past 90 days (but it’s only the start!)

Today marks 90 days on SCD Рthe goal I set out to achieve based on the challenge in Surviving to Thriving. Jordan Reasoner and Steve Wright Рthe authors of the book and founders of SCDLifestyle.com Рused the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) to help heal their guts after being ravaged by IBD, and continue to survive Рand thrive Рon the diet today.

I came across this diet last year, after researching alternative ways to fight my ulcerative colitis. I was newly diagnosed and my symptoms were under control thanks to steroids and chronic medication, but I knew I wanted to take a more active role in healing myself, and I knew that diet was integral to that. Most importantly, I knew I didn’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to January 2014, and after reading the book, I finally made the commitment to do its 90-day challenge. And here I am, 90 days later, having followed it to the T (albeit cheating once!).

Why I decided to document my 90 days

I started this blog for others who may have wanted to take up the challenge but who, like me, were unable to find any resources that explained, on¬†a¬†day-by-day¬†basis, what it¬†would be like to be on this diet. After all,¬†the idea of the diet is terrifying! It’s extremely difficult, it takes a TON of patience, willpower, perseverance and commitment, and it’s definitely not easy – at least at first.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I went for it. And what I can tell you is that:

  • It is difficult
  • It is doable
  • It is absolutely worth it
  • YOU can do it

Apart from anything else, knowing¬†that you are taking an active role in your own health, and discovering that you have the stamina to stick with something¬†really hard, even in the face of daily –¬†hourly – temptation – gives you a sense of accomplishment that is hard to beat.

Many of us fighting IBD got here due to poor¬†diet – at least in part. I don’t know about you guys, but prior to SCD, I never met a sweet treat I said ‘no’ to. In fact, I discovered on this diet that saying ‘no’ is the best yes you can give your body (read about that here).

I realised that I needed to take responsibility for my health, so that if I ever end up facing surgery one day, at least I’ll know I did everything in my power to prevent it. How could I allow myself to continue on my unhealthy path knowing that I might be throwing myself under the bus? Moreover, I really hope to get off the meds one day – who wants to spend their life on Asacol and steroids?

After researching SCD for several months, I decided it would be worth a try – thousands of people swear by it. I finally took the leap and I’m so glad I did.

Did SCD work for me?

SCD¬†has definitely helped to reduce some of the discomfort I experience, but more to the point, it’s helped me to pinpoint¬†what¬†is causing it (veg, mainly. Sob).

It’s also helped me to look more closely at some of my ‘less ideal’¬†eating habits, like binge eating, over-eating at meals, eating too fast and not paying careful attention to everything that I put into my body.

It’s allowed¬†me to overcome my fear of flares. As you’ll know if you have IBD, the thought of flares is terrifying: you never really know when they’ll hit, but you may know that certain foods can trigger them. On SCD, I’m not eating ANY foods that are known to cause my flares (this is different for everyone). It’s great to not live in fear of the next flare striking.

It’s also taught me (out of necessity rather than choice!) how to make the most amazing foods at home – like nut milks, 100% natural meals and YOGURT! I make my own yogurt, guys (recipe here). I mean, that’s insane! It’s taught me how to pay even closer attention than I did before to food labels; it’s taught me how much crap can be found in foods that we’re tricked into believing are good for us. And it’s opened up a whole new world of fresh, natural, organic foods (including desserts!) that actually help to heal my body as¬†I’m eating them.

Has SCD ‘healed’ me? Well I can’t say at this stage. I’m still taking my meds, as it would be silly for me to come off them without the green light from my doctor. However, at my last check up in February, there was ZERO sign of inflammation – something that I’ve had since 2012!

Also, I was really hoping that SCD would help me overcome bloating, but that’s still a work in progress – as is the quality and consistency of my BMs. But again, this is okay – there’s no blanket cure that works for everyone, which is why any diet such as this must¬†be tweaked over time to meet your body’s needs.

What next?

I’m going to do another 10 days on SCD, and then I’m rewarding myself with a well-deserved holiday to Malaysia and Bali (actually, the timing is purely coincidental, but I like the way it worked out).

I plan to transition to a paleo diet, as I feel that my body copes better with meat and protein than with veg and carbs, and also, I like the idea of paleo – I’m hoping it’ll work for me. It’s also grain, dairy and refined sugar free – items I intend to avoid indefinitely (plus I’m lactose intolerant) – and I love that it’s so clean. When I get back from Bali, I’m hoping to turn out whole apartment into a paleo zone! It’s going to be so much easier if we’re both following the diet.

Today’s meal

Did I cheat today, on day 90? Nope! Although I did do something naughty that I warned you guys about waaaaaaaay back in the early days: I ate at a restaurant (probably only the third or fourth time I’ve done this on SCD), and I didn’t ask them to cook my food without seasoning (here’s what not to do at a restaurant if you’re on SCD).

I ordered steak and veg, and luckily all the vegetables had already been added (successfully) to my diet: zucchini, green beans, broccoli and spinach. The steak, too, was fantastic, though it all came with seasoning and I suspect the veg had butter on it Рeek! Bear in mind that dairy is totally fine on SCD after about 30 days, IF you can tolerate it. Butter is SCD legal, as are certain cheeses.

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This photo was very hurried as we were in a trendy restaurant and I didn’t want people thinking me a hipster

And of course, you’ll see the stem of my wine glass – we had the most delicious merlot to accompany our meal, and I toasted to the final 10 days on the diet. So cheers to that!

Day 83: Dairy-free SCD yogurt recipe – a SUCCESS!

I’ve been promising this recipe for weeks, and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long. This yogurt is smooth, tasty and BEST of all, it has the PROPER yogurt consistency thanks to the addition of gelatine (which in itself has loads of health benefits). What a success – finally it doesn’t feel like I’m eating chewed-up nuts when I have my SCD yogurt ūüôā

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This recipe is¬†based on a few different ones¬†that I’ve tweaked/combined, but I mainly used the recipe from Thetastyalternative.com. I’ve included the links at the end.

As always with homemade yogurt, you need to plan ahead: It takes about 30 hours from step 1.

Dairy-free cashew-coconut yogurt – SCD & paleo friendly

Makes 1 litre

1/2 cup cashew nuts

1 cup shredded/desiccated coconut

15ml vanilla extract

15ml-30ml honey

6g gelatine (make sure you have room temperature water on hand too)

Yogurt starter cultures (ensure that they’re¬†lactose free if need be)

Method

Step 1: Soak your cashews in water for around 8 hours. I put them in a sealed container and keep them in the fridge, then rinse them when done.

Step 2. Make cashew milk. Cashews are the most awesome nuts to make milk from because they break down completely – no need to strain the milk. Put your cashews into a blender with 2 cups of water (filtered if you like). Pulse a few times to break up the nuts, then let it run on high speed for a few minutes. Check to make sure the nuts are completely broken down (if not, blend a little more), and then leave to stand for 10 or 15 minutes. Remove the thin layer of foam that forms on top.

Cashew milk - very smooth and creamy

Cashew milk – very smooth and creamy

Step 3. Make coconut milk. Add your coconut together with 2 cups of hot (not boiling) water to your blender. Blend for about 3-5 minutes, until it’s nice and creamy looking. Pour the milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, and strain it. Then, gather up the bag/cheesecloth and squeeze until you’ve extracted all the milk. Of course, you can use the pulp for cereals, bakes, etc, or dry it out and turn it¬†into coconut flour.

Step 4. Heat your milks. Add 2 cups of coconut milk and 2 cups of cashew milk to a pot (you may have a little leftover), together with the vanilla extract and honey. Heat on a very gentle simmer until you reach 85C (185F). Always remember to stir the mixture well before taking a temperature reading. I use a clay pot for this step. Keep a close eye on the milk and don’t let it overheat, boil or burn.

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Step 5. Cool your milk. Take your mixture off the heat and allow it to cool to 43-49C (110-120F). While you’re waiting (I usually place it in a sink full of cold water and ice packs), mix 6g of gelatine with 75ml room temperature water and let it sponge.

Step 6. Add your gelatine. When the milk has cooled to the right temperature, add your gelatine. Ensure that it is well incorporated by using a stick blender to give it a good proper mix. I always clean my stick blender with boiling water before hand to make sure it hasn’t got any other bits of food/flavour still stuck to it.

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Step 7. Cool again. Place the pot back into the cold water and let it cool to around 38C (100F). Give it a good stir.

Step 8: Add your yogurt starter. At 38C/100F, add your starter to the mixture. You could also use 5 capsules of probiotics instead. Give the mixture another good spin with the stick blender.

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Step 9. Incubate . Pour your mixture into a sterilised container, and place it into your yogurt maker. It will need 12 hours here, so overnight usually works best.

Step 10. Refrigerate. After 12 hours, remove¬†the container from your yogurt maker and give the mixture a good stir to re-incorporate any gelatine that’s separated. Let it stand for about an hour, then put it in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

Your yogurt is ready! I always add honey to mine because I find it quite tart, but it’s not necessary. It’s a delicious, excellently textured yogurt that is a real pleasure¬†to eat. Enjoy!

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Look at that texture!

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Absolutely delicious, especially with a little extra added honey

Check out these great blogs:

РThetastyalternative for this amazing yogurt recipe which I have shamelessly hijacked.

– WellnessMama for the instructions on making coconut milk.

– Cookies and Kate for the tips on making cashew nut milk.

SCD yogurt recipe (step by step)

My first batch of SCD yoghurt was delicious, but it didn’t really agree with me, which is sad. You can read more about it here¬†and here. I’ll try it again in the future when my gut has had more time to heal. If you are able to handle nuts, you should definitely give it a try. The flavour was wonderful.

This week, I attempted to make the yoghurt again, this time using almond nut milk instead of whole (ground) almonds. The yoghurt has turned out wonderfully, though I’d make it a bit thicker next time. Here’s how I did it, step by step.

Ingredients

2 cups blanched almonds

Honey

Vanilla extract

Gelatine

Yogurt starters cultures (lactose free if you’re lactose intolerant)

Tools

Blender

Sieve

Cheesecloth, nut milk bag or clean, unused stocking

Medium-large pots

Thermometer

Sterilised jars and spoons

Yogurt maker

Preparing your almonds

About 3 days before you’d like to have your yogurt (remember, this is SCD, so everything takes a little longer!), take 2 cups of blanched almonds and soak them, uncovered, for up to 2 days. You can soak them overnight to shorten the process, but the longer you leave them, the creamier the milk will be.

Working with unblanched almonds:¬†If you, like me, have unblanched almonds, simply plop them into a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes, and then you’ll easily be able to squeeze them out of their skins. K helped me with this, and we turned it into a bit of a competition!

Preparing your almond nut milk

Once you’ve finished soaking your nuts, give them a good rinse, and then add them to your blender with 2 cups of water per cup of nuts – so four cups of water in total. I did mine in two batches. First, pulse the blender a few times to break up the nuts, and then blend at full speed for 2 minutes. The nuts should be nicely broken down at this stage.

Next, you need to strain your milk. Take a sieve and line it with cheesecloth or, in my case, a nut milk bag. Place it over a clean bowl, and pour the nut milk into it.

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Then, gather up the bag or fabric, being careful not to spill, and squeeze out as much of the milk as you can (using clean hands!). You should get about 2 cups of milk for every 1 cup of nuts.

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Storing your almond milk 

I didn’t have time to make my yogurt right away, so I refrigerated the almond milk in clean jars. There’s debate about how long it can last in the fridge – some say 2 days; others say 2 weeks. Your nose will certainly tell you if it has gone off. I added some to my coffee this morning, after 5 days in the fridge, and it seems fine.

Voila - homemade almond milk!

Making your almond milk yogurt

Now the fun part! Heat your almond milk, together with 1 tbsp honey and 1tsp vanilla extract, gently on the stove in a large pot or Dutch oven (I used the latter). ¬†I used 1 litre of milk. Actually, when I say ‘I’, I mean K, because she did this part for me while I was stuck working late!

Keep the heat low and stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. When it reaches 185F (85C), remove it from the heat. Be sure to stir it before you take temperature readings. Now, let it cool down. I sped up this process by putting the pot in a sink of iced water. Keep an eye on it if you do it this way – it can cool more quickly than you’re expecting.

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In the mean time, mix 4 tsps of gelatin with 1/2 cup room temperature water. I used 3 getaline leaves (1 leaf = 1 tsp), but I definitely think more was required. You might need to play around here.

When the yogurt reaches 110-120F (43-49C), add your gelatine and mix it in using a stick blender. Then, when the yogurt reaches 100F (37/38C), add your yogurt starter, and again use your stick blender to fully incorporate it in the mixture.

How much yogurt starter?¬†The guys at SCDLifestyle.com suggest using 1/8 of a tsp for every 2 quarts, which is what I use. So you’ll need 1/16 of a tsp for 1 litre, if my maths (and conversions!) are correct.

Now, transfer your mixture to your sterilised yogurt maker container (or whatever containers you’re using) and place into your yogurt maker for 12 hours only. Do not touch, shake, move or disturb the yogurt maker at all during this time, as the culturing process is extremely sensitive to movement.

After 12 hours, carefully remove the yogurt from the yogurt maker and allow it to sit for 1 hour. At this point, some people stir the yogurt while others believe that it’s still very sensitive to movement. I don’t touch it. Lastly, place it in the fridge for at least 8 to 10 hours, which allows the gelatine to thicken.

Enjoying your yogurt

My batch is a bit thin, but definitely closer to the consistency and taste of real yoghurt, so I’m really thrilled. I eat mine with some extra honey, as the taste is quite tangy and requires a little sweetening. The honey isn’t necessary though, but you do need to add it to the yogurt to give the cultures something to feed on.

The yogurt will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’re just starting out, add it in TINY amounts every day to allow your body to get accustomed to it. The cultures are powerful and you need to be careful. I overdid it on my first go-round, which was a very silly thing to do. It was just so tasty!

My yogurt with a lovely drizzle of pure honey