Oi. I have no excuse for not blogging in so long. Actually I have lots of excuses. Family life, winter activities winding down, spring cleaning, Easter holidays, and my new vegan cupcake business have filled my empty time slots. Rest assured that I have made lots of great new recipes during that time and I am ready to share them with you. Stay tuned for a great hot rice salad, and a HEALTHY (for real) and YUMMY (for real) and VEGAN (of course) brownie recipe.
Now back to this post…
A couple of days ago I made it to the city, and by city, I mean an oversized town with a Nutters. For those of you who haven’t been to a Nutters, it’s a Canadian bulk and natural food store chain. Product selection varies greatly by store, but I found one with this exciting new product I heard about via Jillian Michaels:
So Delicious cocoyo (an affectionate turn for coconut yogurt) is, in fact, delicious. The available flavors were strawberry, vanilla, blueberry, and plain. I opted for the strawberry and my kids really liked it. Because they are allergic to dairy products, they have never tasted yogurt… until now. Sure, you say it’s not made of milk, how much like yogurt is it? Quite a bit actually! Yes, it tastes coconut-y, but the texture is thick and creamy like Greek yogurt. You can tell that a thickener (guar gum) has been added to it as it is “not the same kind of thick” as Greek yogurt. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all dairy products have a natural, inherent thickness. Believe it or not, yogurt’s texture is not a God-given benefit of mammalian sourcing. Greek yogurt is one of the few varieties that doesn’t use gelatin or other ingredients to thicken it. If you eat dairy products, try Greek sometime. It really is a cut above.
Back to cocoyo. It’s expensive. A pint typically costs between $6.00 – $7.00. Ouch. Yeah, it’s good, but I’ll never be able to buy it in the abundance I would like to. I quickly decided that I would try to make my own. I was looking at a vegetarian cooking site with lots of great recipes called Happy Herbivore. On it, there was a recipe for soy yogurt. I followed her recipe with exactness, but found that it wasn’t thick enough for me. I added 1/2 cup of frozen berries and blended. Still not thick enough. I blended in 1/2 tsp of guar gum (also available at Nutters) and the texture was perfect, BUT it still tasted distinctively tofu-y, SO I added a tbsp of real vanilla extract, and…
it was okay. I would give it a 5 out of 10. The kids still ate-it-up. While banana and berries are the most prominent flavours, I could still taste tofu.
(This is the good part:)
the next time I made homemade vegan yogurt with a 400 mL can of regular coconut milk (not the low-fat stuff). Move out of the way soygurt, and So Delicious cocoyo, because my homemade cocoyo is a superstar. This stuff rocks! The kids, my carnivorous husband, and I ALL L-O-V-E-D it. If you are familiar with the Yoptimal Immuni+ store brand dairy yogurt, that is what my recipe most closely resembles in appearance and taste. In EVERY way it has the So Delicious cocoyo beat. My cocoyo’s flavour and texture was much better and exactly what you would expect from yogurt. There was no weird, dough-y texture. Yes, there is more fat in it, but using a whole food like coconut milk instead of tofu makes it much healthier. Now I don’t have to waste time hunting for vegan yogurt.
My most important tip with this recipe is to be very careful with guar gum. It has 8 times the thickening power of cornstarch, which make it a magnificent thickener for this recipe, so long as you measure carefully and follow the directions very closely. You may choose to add more or less guar gum than the recipe calls for so that you achieve your favourite thickness. Since I mentioned it, don’t get any ideas about using cornstarch. I can guarantee that it will make your yogurt dough-y.
My second most important tip is to refrigerate the banana. Do not skip this step. This is a recipe that will always be thicker when cold, so to avoid a tragic overuse of guar gum, it must be prepared at the consistency you would eat it at, i.e. COLD.
Here’s my super easy recipe, which makes 1 pint. Why not get the kids involved? Mine had a blast making it!:
1-400 mL can of full fat coconut milk (I used the Aroy-D brand), refrigerated until firm
1 cold banana, cut into 1 inch slices
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)
1/2 cup frozen berries, peaches, and/or mangoes
1 tsp guar gum (I used the Bob’s Red Mill brand)
- Put all of the ingredients except for the guar gum in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
- Add 1/2 of the specified amount of guar gum. Blend. Check the consistency. If you like it, stop here. If it’s too runny, add the remaining guar gum. Blend. Check the consistency again. If you need, add more gum a pinch at a time, blending after each addition.
- Refrigerate and enjoy.
Don’t write off this recipe because it includes guar gum. Just go to the health food store and pick some up; it is well worth your while.
Variations: Substitute the frozen berries for frozen banana to make “plain” yogurt. You could use agave nectar (vegan), sucanat (vegan, sugar cane natural sugar), or honey (not vegan) to sweeten it instead of maple syrup.
Trivia: What exactly is guar gum? It is the endosperm of guar beans, cultivated as a seed crop in India. Guar gum is gluten-free.