Yogurt has long been a staple across much of the world, throughout history and with the health benefits it provides it is no wonder! Yogurt provides us with calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, B12, B3 and folic acid, as well as being a great source of protein. The protein found in yogurt is more digestible than that found in milk because of bacterial breakdown. Yogurt also aids in populating the gut with friendly bacteria and is recommended to repopulate the gut of those who have taken antibiotics. Yogurt helps prevent diarrhea and yeast infections. As if that isn't enough, research shows that the acidophilus culture found in yogurt may suppress colon cancer and even vaginal cancer. Whew! Can you say superfood!
Having shouted out the benefits of yogurt, there are some things you must be aware of. All yogurt is not made equally, no surprise is it? In an effort to make yogurt low fat, sugar-free, more appetizing and more appealing, yogurt is host to many additives. These additives negatively impact the benefits of yogurt and range from gmo corn starch to gelatin, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours, colours, stabilizers and preservatives. If the yogurt is not artificially sweetened it usually contains upwards of 5 tsp of sugar in a 6 oz serving.
If you are going to buy flavoured yogurt, purchasing organic ensures you will get ingredients you can pronounce and often less sugar, but I recommend buying plain yogurt and "dolling" it up yourself! Add cut fruit or berries, a tsp of jam, honey or maple syrup separately or in combination to make it more flavorable. One of my favourite snacks is a cut banana, plain yogurt, hemp and chia seeds.
Plain yogurt can be used in salad dressing to replace mayonnaise; added to smoothies to make them creamy; used instead of sour cream on baked potatoes; flavoured and used as a dip for cut fruit. It is very versatile. Experiment!
I have been making my own yogurt now for about 5 years and it is creamy, dreamy and seems less bitter than its store bought brethren. I follow the instructions found on the yogurt starter (Yogourmet) that I buy, with the exception of incubating it in my dehydrator at a temperature between 105 and 110F for 24 hours. Preparing it this way makes it "legal" on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is a diet conducive to gut healing. It isn't necessary to incubate it for such a long period, we just like it this way.