Friday, February 17, 2012

Younger with Yogurt!

Yogurt is really good for the belly.  Maybe it lengthens our lifespan as was once part of those commercials back in the 60s and 70s.  Research is heading in that direction.  Many experts believe that all health good or bad begins in the gut.  Yogurt is definitely good for the gut.  It contains the good bacteria we need for digestion and absorption of nutrients.  It creates the balanced environment we need for digestion and proper immune function, and it fights over-growth of yeast and bad bacteria.

Been hearing the word pro-biotic?  Well, that actually means "for life" and not in the political way, but in the life and health promoting way.  Yogurt contains pro-biotics.  It does, because it is fermented milk.  Fermented foods are a really good and healthy way to eat!  Sauerkraut, miso, kim-chi and others are fermented and are rich in enzymes that have many health benefits. 

There are many different types of bacteria (lacto-bacillus for example) or pro-biotics.  You can tell this by buying different types of plain yogurt.  They are all likely using different strains of bacteria to ferment and these different strains create different flavors.  When I make my own yogurt, if I haven't been keeping up with a batch in the fridge, I go out to find the brand that tastes best to me and I use that as my new starter for a new batch of yogurt (more on making your own later). 

Lacto-bacillus has been found to increase immunity - especially when looking at chronic and degenerative diseases.  They help control inflammation which is being connected to so many chronic diseases (heart disease included).  They increase the immune systems natural killer cells for fighting infections and cancers.  they also help with good cholesterol! 

Unfortunately, there are plenty of yogurts sold without actually having been fermented and therefore lacking the pro-biotics which are so beneficial.  These are thickened with products other than the natural fermentation process or the fermentation process has been pasteurized away, killing off those little good guys.  Make sure the package and the ingredients say contains live and active cultures - NOT "made with live and active cultures" as they could have been pasteurized into oblivion.

Or, make your own!  It really is easy!
Thermometer (the kind for cooking), heating pad, towel, saucepan, quart jar, lid, stock pot, whisk, bowl
1 Qt milk, 1/4 C of your favorite live cultured yogurt
Time: See each step's time estimates in (  )

*Warm the milk to 180 degrees over medium heat, whisking a bit (15 min.)
*Let it cool to 115 degrees, whisking a bit (30 min.)
*Pour a ladle of milk into a bowl and add the 1/4 C yogurt as your starter, whisk
*Add the starter mix back to the yogurt in the pot and whisk more
*Pour into the jar (may go over) and put on the lid, wrap in a towel, place onto the heating pad (on    low) and cover with the stock pot
*Let sit for 8-48 hours, testing after 8 hours.  It sours more with more time.
*Set aside 1/4 C for your next batch and eat up the rest!
*You can safely freeze the starter, if it will take more than a few days for you to begin the next batch.

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