Archive for Author Rebecca Coleman

Vegan Tortilla Soup

It’s almost November. Hallowe’en is just around the corner. Truthfully, fall this year in Vancouver hasn’t been horrible, but I have, with many sadfaces, retired my beloved flip flops for a few months, and put my Hunters and other boots into heavy rotation.

Oh, hi, October. How'd you get here so fast? Looking forward to your tasty Turkey, and all the candy! #yvr #vancouver #westend #mapleleaf #fall #autumn #october #thanksgiving #halloween

What this weather calls for is soup. Warm, comforting soup to warm your belly and give your insides a big hug.

I made this soup last night, and I have to tell you, it knocked my socks off. Why? Well, first off, you can make it, start to finish, in about half an hour. When the sprout has after school activities, getting a decent, relatively healthy dinner on the table ASAP becomes priority number one. Secondly, this soup packs all the flavour. It is the most unboring soup you have probably ever had. There are layers of deliciousness here, and no meat needed to make it so. If you happen to have a cold, the chili in this will clear up your sinuses in a big fat hurry.

It’s also made with things you probably already have around the house–pantry staples. But you can easily tweak it based upon what you have in the house, and what your famjam likes. Like a taco, you can build the base soup, and then allow those partaking to garnish as they see fit.

This soup is heavier on garnish than most, but that’s part of what makes it so darn tasty. The garnishes also add texture (crispy tortillas) or have a cooling effect (sour cream, avocado or cheese) to counteract the chipotles.

Now, go make some soup! It’s healthy and warming. Everyone wins.

vegan tortilla soup

Vegan Tortilla Soup

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and deveined, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 (large) can of tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 package Better Bean Co Cuban Black Beans (or a can of regular black beans)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper

For the soup garnishes (all optional except for the tortilla, choose your favourites):

  • 1/2 avocado, cut in 1/2″ dice
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips or fresh tortilla that has been cut in small strips and toasted in the oven (brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and cumin, then bake)
  • sour cream (makes it NOT vegan, obviously, unless you use vegan sour cream)
  • shredded cheese (ditto)
  • lime juice or fresh lime wedges

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5-10 minutes, until they are fragrant and soft. Add the garlic and the jalapeño, and stir well. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes, then add the chipotle, cumin, and some salt and pepper. Stir well to incorporate, and allow to cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Add the tomato (with liquid), vegetable stock, and beans. Stir well, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetables, stir well, and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust. When the soup is done, turn off the heat and add the cilantro, and give it a nice squeeze of lime juice.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with garnishes as you see fit.

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée with Maple Syrup

Every once in a while, as a food blogger, you discover something new that you just can’t help fall in love with.

I should say up front that I am in no way being paid to endorse this product. I just think it’s the bomb.com, and I wanted to tell you about it.

A few months back, I was attending the EAT Vancouver trade show. I love going to trade shows, because I kinda feel like it’s my job, as a food blogger, to be up on the latest trends, and trade shows are a great way to be on top of what’s new.

While there, I met these fabulous peeps from Nova Scotia. Now, meeting anyone from the Maritimes is, in and of itself, a treat for me, because I’ve spent a lot of time in that part of the world, and I miss it. These peeps, though, had a brand-new product I’d never seen before–flavour-infused maple syrups.

Maple syrup is one of those things I simply can’t live without. In my younger days, in university, when I was super poor, did I buy Aunt Jemima? Yep, I did. But now that I’m a grownup, I won’t have that stuff in my house. It’s pure Canadian maple syrup all the way, and damn the cost.

pure infused maple syrup

I use it a lot, too, as both a source of sweetener, and a source of flavour.  What I love about Pure Infused Maple Syrup is that they take maple syrup to the next level. Maple syrup goes so well with so many things–and what these folks have done is add companion flavours to our old friend.

There are 5 different flavours, like Vanilla, Cinnamon and Star Anise, which I, quite frankly, could drink in my coffee every single day. There’s also Lavender and Chai, which I’ve added as a sweetener to chai tea, and it rocks. The have a very traditional Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves, which adds the most amazing flavours to anything with apples. Finally, there’s a savoury Chipotle & Lemongrass, which would make your salmon sing, and a gastrique (which is a kind of sweet-sour vinegar), flavoured with ginger, which would be wonderful in any homemade salad dressing.

Here in Vancouver, it’s available at Ayoub’s Dried Fruit and Nuts.

I use this stuff in so many things–it was hard to choose just one to write a post on.

I actually asked my FB friends for suggestions, and I got about 100. But I settled on this Pumpkin Creme Brûlée from my friend Melissa at UpBeet. Because pumpkin. Fall. Maple Syrup.

I have taken this recipe to the next level by using a maple-infused sugar to brûlée it with.

pumpkin creme brulee

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup half and half cream or evaporated milk (for a lower fat version)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used Pure Infused Maple Syrup, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cloves)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • For the maple-infused sugar: 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 tbsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients, except for the ingredients for the maple sugar, into the blender. Blend until well combined.
  2. Place four ramekins (you can also use mason jars) in a 8″ x 8″ square pan. Carefully pour the creme brûlée mixture into each of the ramekins, about 2/3 or 3/4 full.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the oven has reached temp, place the pan with the ramekins on the oven rack. Fill the pan up (around the ramekins) with boiling water, about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and place in the fridge to cool, a couple of hours or overnight.
  5. Meanwhile, make the maple sugar. In a mason jar, place the granulated sugar, the maple syrup and the vanilla bean paste, and shake well to combine.
  6. When ready to serve, spread a layer of the maple sugar on top of each of your puddings and use a brûlée torch to “burn” the sugar.

Cilantro Mint Chutney

Diwali Mubarak! Happy Diwali!

I first had this Chutney at the Food Cart Fest a couple years back. I had it again this past weekend, while doing a cultural food tour in Surrey. Almost everything we ate, including deep-fried Pakoras and Samosas, came with this incredibly fresh sauce, which did a great job of cutting through the richness of the deep-frying.

It’s very similar to a chimichurri sauce–a combo of fresh, green herbs, acid, sweet and spice.

This would be an amazing condiment with any kind of grilled meat–especially lamb, but you can pretty much pair it with anything, as it packs quite the flavour punch.

I love how herbaceous it is–the freshness of the mint and the cilantro, along with a hit of acid in the form of lemon, balanced with the sweet tamarind, and finally, followed up with the spicy kick of the chilies.

It’s also really easy to make–no cooking required. Just blitz everything together in your blender until it looks like pesto, and voila!

Cilantro Mint Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, tough stems cut off
  • 1 green chili pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsps lemon or lime juice (or a mix)
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup water

Method:

  1. Wash the herbs and remove the bigger, tougher stems.
  2. Pack the herbs, garlic, salt and cumin into your blender and pulse to finely chop the herbs.
  3. Add the lemon juice and tamarind, and blend well.
  4. With the motor running, begin to add the water, pouring it into the top of the blender. Add water until it becomes a pesto-like consistency. You may not teen all the water, or you may need a little more to get it to the right consistency. Taste the finished chutney, and adjust for seasonings–add a little more chili if you like it hotter, more tamarind if you like it sweeter, etc.

 

Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi, like fresh pasta, or risotto, is one of those recipes that appears simple at the outset, but actually is quite hard to make well. There are only a few ingredients–flour, eggs, some seasonings, and that’s about it. But understanding how to handle the dough, knowing when it’s ready, not overworking it, these are things that can take a lifetime to learn how to do properly.

ricotta gnocchi

I will admit to having a bit of a gnocchi obsession since eating Trevor Bird’s pillowy versions at Fable. Trevor gave me some great advice on how to make mine tender, as well, and you can read it here.

Still, it’s not something I’ve made as much as I thought I would. It’s quite a bit of work, and at my local market, they often go on sale for less than $2/package, which is when I stock up.

But there’s a different kind of gnocchi, which doesn’t involve any potatoes, yams or squash. It’s basically cheese, eggs and flour. I mean, c’mon! How could that possibly be bad??

Indeed, it is not. I’ve made these twice, now, and both times they turned out beautifully–soft and yummy–with a fraction of the work that it takes to make the potato kind.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage Butter

(adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta (I use Silani)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups grated hard cheese, similar to Parmesian, Romano or Peccorino (I used a Mountain Oak)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large sprig of fresh sage
  • additional grated cheese to finish

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta and eggs. Add the cheese, nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Depending on how thick your ricotta is, you may want to use a handmixer for this part. Otherwise, you can use a whisk.
  2. Add flour in 1/4 cup batches, stirring to form a soft, wet dough. When the dough starts to come away from the edges of the bowl, it’s ready. Place it aside for about 20 minutes to rest.
  3. Take half the dough and heavily flour your working surface. Form the dough into a rope, and roll it out, until it’s about 1″ thick. Cut 1″ pieces out of the rope. Toss each piece on to a well-floured cookie sheet, and you can toss them around in the flour a little, as well, to make sure they don’t stick together.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss the gnocchi in, one at a time, until you have 20 or so in the pot. Give it a good stir, then let it go until the gnocchi rise to the top. Give them another minute, then remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon to a colander. Continue in batches until they are all cooked.
  5. In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the butter, then toss in the individual sage leaves. Add the gnocchi (you may need to do this in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan), and season well with salt and pepper. Gently toss until the gnocchi are slightly brown and caramelized on the outside.
  6. Serve in a bowl with additional gratings of cheese.

PS. You can win the Mountain Oak and four other kinds of Canadian Cheese by entering the #SimplePleasures of #CDNCheese Contest.

Earls Fall Menu

A couple months back, I had a truly dream-come-true experience.

I’m a huge fan of Top Chef. I’ve seen every episode of every American and Canadian Top Chef, and I’ve watched a bunch of the spinoffs, too (the Canadian version, sadly, has been cancelled, but Top Chef Chicago started last night). I’ve had the opportunity to interview and eat the food of former contestants like Trevor Bird, Curtis Luk, and S3 winner, Matthew Stowe.

The Women of Top Chef Canada

But in August, I got to attend a fundraiser put on by Les Dames d’Escoffier, and it was hosted at Earl’s Yaletown location, in The Loft. The food that night was prepared by the women of the last season of Top Chef: Dawn Doucette, Lauren Marshall, Karin Moulin, Gabriela Neda, and Shelley Robinson. The food was wonderful, but was was more amazing was getting to chat with these awesome women chefs.

Two of the gals are locals–Shelley is the Executive Chef for Coast Hotels, and Dawn is the Product Development Chef for Earls.

Earls Chef Dawn Doucette

Last week, I got invited back to the scene of the crime, along with some of Vancouver’s Food Bloggerati, to preview Earls Fall Menu.

First off, let’s start with cocktails. There were three, including a twist on a Moscow Mule, called Cabin Fever (garnished with a pine cone! Adorbs!), the Bee’s Knees, served in a bear-shaped glass (this one went down very easy) and Clover Club #4, which comes with a stencilled message of fabulousness.

Earls Salmon Salad

The starter was a Salmon Salad: twice-glazed with a Szechuan lime glaze, alongside a slaw made with soba noodles, zucchini, carrots, and red pearl onions, dressed with a tamarind-sesame dressing. It came nestled in a swirl of cilantro-yogurt sauce. I was most impressed with how juicy and perfectly cooked the salmon was. It’s tough to serve 45 perfectly-cooked portions at once.

Earls Spatchcock Chicken

Next up: Spatchcock Chicken. This was my favourite (other than dessert, natch!) course of the night. It included what was, again, an incredibly juicy half chicken, with a bit of a spicy glaze. It also came paired with a slaw. I was less crazy about the miso sauce–it was a little intense all on its own.

There was another meat course, as well, served family-style: steak with asparagus, salad and truffled fries. Fantastic in its simplicity, and I could have eaten the fries all night.

Earls Burger

We also got a preview of two new burgers on the menu. The first was a two-handed, hard-core, meat-lover’s dream, with two patties, mushroom jam, bacon, and then draped in layers of Earl’s own, house-made, smoked beer cheddar. There’s something for vegheads, though, as well: a Mediterranean falafel burger, garnished with baba ganoush, homemade hummus, and feta.

Earls Chocolate Bar

Finally, the crowning glory: dessert. This was simply called a Hazlenut Chocolate bar, but oh, glory be–it was so much more. I was super full by this point, but yet I still managed to eat the entire thing. The Hazlenut Bar was a thin slice of a rich chocolate ganache, but it had a crispy, light crust, which added a welcome and fantastic textural element. It sat on a pool of caramel sauce, and alongside was a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. My favourite part of the dish, however, were the dehydrated mandarins. I’ve never had anything like them before–packing the sweet citrus punch of an orange, but with the crispy texture of a chip.

Photo of Ariane Colenbrander & I by Cathy Browne, Horsing around with Don Genova

Photo of Ariane Colenbrander & I by Cathy Browne, Horsing around with Don Genova

Earls is a locally-owned joint who are doing their utmost to source local ingredients, and to create simple, delicious comfort food that makes you feel good. And their fall menu did just that.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothies

Or…How to Use Up All the Leftover Pumpkin You Have in the House

Are you feeling pumpkin’d out yet? I really am starting to. I feel like Pumpkin season started really early this year, and now, here we are, two weeks from Hallowe’en, and I’m already starting to feel sick of them.

So, this is my last pumpkin post.  Almost certainly. For now. ;-)

pumpkin pie smoothie

If you made some of the pumpkin things or, a pie for Thanksgiving, you likely bought a can of pumpkin puree, or maybe you made your own. Either way, there’s a good chance you have some left over, hanging out in your fridge. I know I do.

It’s not really enough to make something with… so what do you do with it? Well, it’s excellent added (a couple of tablespoons) to your pancake or waffle batter, or added to your egg/milk mixture when making french toast. You can add it to stews and chilis. And, of course, let’s not forget your coffee.

But I’m kinda grooving on this pumpkin smoothie right now. It’s kind of like pumpkin pie, in smoothie form. All the creaminess and warming spices of a pumpkin pie you love, but you can eat it through a straw. Why not?

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

(serves one)

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy, choose your favourite)
  • 150 grams (1/2 package) soft tofu (I usually use Sunrise, they have flavoured ones, and the new Maple one works really well with the pumpkin)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (if needed–sweeten to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs

Method: 

Place all ingredients in your blender with ice and process until smooth. Garnish with some graham cracker crumbs and enjoy.

 

Sneaky Smoothie

Shhh! I am a sneaky mommy.

It’s really a practical thing to be–and it’s not just for my son. I figure, I can use all the vegetables I can get, so if I sneak them into our food, the more the merrier, right?

“Sneaky mommy” faves include making a tomato sauce with hidden carrots and zucchini, a chocolate zucchini cake, and adding a yam puree to my homemade mac ‘n’ cheese sauce. Seriously. They (or you) will never know.

sneaky smoothie

I like this smoothie, and I pretty much start every day with one. I sneak a lot of things in here–spinach, supplements, and even vegetables. The fruit hides it all, and you’d never guess all the added goodness you are getting with this one.

This is less of a recipe, and more like guidelines. Feel free to add/substitute according to your taste buds. This smoothie is fantastic for you because the blueberries and the spinach are superfoods, the juice sneaks in a full serving of vegetables as well, bananas are high in potassium, and the flax is full of omegas, a healthy fat.

I feel healthier (and sneakier!) already!

IMG_5524

Sneaky Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup frozen four berry mix (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • 1/2 cup dark-coloured juice (I’m using Tropicana Farmstand Blueberry Pomegranate–it has beets hidden inside!)
  • 1 banana
  • 3 tbsp yogurt
  • a small handful of spinach or kale
  • 1 scoop of smoothie booster (I like Weber Naturals All Greens)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed or flax seed oil

Method: 

Place everything in a blender and blitz it until it is completely smooth. Add a handful of ice and blend again. Check for thickness–if it’s too thick, add a little more juice and blend again.

Pumpkin-Spiced Bread Pudding (gluten-free)

And just like that, it was Thanksgiving…

In my family, Thanksgiving is usually hosted at my bother’s place, and it’s a pretty traditional one: turkey roasted with a bacon jacket, mashed potatoes, yams with marshmallows, grilled asparagus, candied carrots. One year, my sister-in-law (who is a vegetarian) and I made a Tofurkey, but it disappointed (although it tasted a lot better with turkey gravy on it).

pumpkin spiced bread pudding gluten free

I tend to get assigned dessert. I’ve done traditional pies (in honour of my mom) in apple and pumpkin, I’ve done pumpkin creme brûlée. This year, we are celebrating my dad’s birthday as well as Thanksgiving, so it might be a pumpkin chocolate cake.

Bread pudding is also a great option. This one marries pumpkin with the traditional pumpkin pie spices. It’s simple to make, and you could make it ahead, and then just rewarm it before serving. I am serving mine with a store-bought dulche de leche, but a caramel (homemade or store bought) would also pair quite nicely.

You can make this bread pudding gluten-free by using a gluten-free bread, as there is nothing with gluten in any of the other ingredients. I recently discovered a fabulous gluten-free brioche at Scandilicious on the very end of Victoria Drive, and that’s what I used for this recipe.

pumpkin spiced bread pudding gluten free

 

Pumpkin-Spiced Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup half and half
  • 300 ml-can pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 6 cups challah or brioche–it’s better if it’s a bit stale
  • for garnish: dulche de leche, caramel sauce and/or whipped cream

Method: 

  1. Cut up the bread into 1/2″ cubes, place in a large bowl, and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the half and half, eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, vanilla and bourbon.
  3. Pour the custard mixture over the bread cubes and mix well. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes so the bread can absorb the custard.
  4. Pour the bread pudding into a baking dish–9″ x 9″ or equivalent, and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Serve family-style at the table with the dulche de leche or caramel and whipped cream on the side.

All I Need Is Canadian Cheese… but I’ll Share

I’ve been waiting so long, but today! Today is the day!

Today, I start a three-month long ambassadorship for… Cheese.

It all started a year and a half ago. I was house-sitting for Don Genova in Cobble Hill, and one day, decided to drive down into Cowichan Bay to check out the gastronomical delights. Said delights included a grain mill and bakery, a winery, and Hillary’s Cheese (they have since changed their name).

I came home with a whole lot of goodies, and shared them on Instagram.

All of this deliciousness was grown within 10 K of here: @unsworthv wine, @hillaryscheese, and True Grain Bread. #cowichanbay #eatlocal #foodporn

A couple weeks later, I received an email from The Dairy Farmers of Canada, wondering if I’d be interested in becoming a Cheese Ambassador. I couldn’t reply to that email fast enough–and the hardest part has been waiting over the past year for my tenure to begin.

I love cheese. While I do like to cook Vegan sometimes, I don’t think I could ever give up cheese. It is my ultimate comfort food. Growing up, on rainy Vancouver winter days, I’d walk home from school for lunch, and my favourite lunch was always a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Not much has changed. I still love that flavour combo (in fact, I made a grilled cheese last night when I got home late after teaching class), but I’ve gotten more daring in my choices and pairings. There are few things I love more than sitting down with some good cheese, bread, and a glass of wine. Sometimes, I call that dinner. :-)

Dinner.

So. What does this mean for you, dear reader? A couple things. First off, you’re about to see a lot more cheese recipes on my blog. Every month, they are going to send me different Canadian cheeses to sample and experiment with. I will be passing on my tasty knowledge to you.

Secondly, you will have the opportunity to win the exact same basket I just got in the mail this morning, so you can do your own tastings and experiments. It’s a Pinterest contest, and all you need to do is to create a “Cheese Board” (get it??) and pin 10 photos of Canadian Cheese onto it. Details are here.

Canadian cheese

Finally, if you are not yet following me on Instagram, please do so here. It’s where I’ll be sharing the bulk of my cheese experiments. You might also want to follow Lynne and Ayngelina, my fellow ambassadors.

Looking forward to sharing the simple pleasures of Canadian cheese with you over the next few months! Now, where’s my sash with “Cheese Ambassador” on it? I’mma need to wear that thing everywhere!

Coconut Yogurt (Vegan)

I can’t think of a time where I had so much trouble with a recipe. I set out, months ago, to make a truly vegan yogurt, and I have failed so many times, I’ve lost count.

I was determined, though, to make it work, and I finally, finally, after much research and tweaking, got the formula right.

Coconut Yogurt vegan lactose free

I love my yogurt maker, and I use it all the time. Currently, my favourite recipe is to take a litre of half-and-half (10% fat,) mix in a packet of Yogourmet (which I buy from the Gourmet Warehouse–I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods), and set it for 8 hours. At the end, I have the world’s easiest, dreamiest, creamiest yogurt, which I consume in smoothies, or with chia and granola for breakfast.

As I’ve shared previously, I have Candida, which means I’m supposed to stay away from sugar and yeast (ha!), and I’m supposed to eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchee, kombacha (not gonna happen), miso and sauerkraut. I also take a daily probiotic supplement.

Even if you don’t have Candida, eating fermented foods is a really important thing to integrate into your diet. Live bacterial cultures in our gut have so many benefits–they support your immune system to help you from getting sick, they help you to digest better, may help to heal allergies, and are great for your.. uh, plumbing (urinary tract).

If you’re a vegan, or lactose-intolerant, you don’t eat yogurt, as it’s made from dairy. There certainly are dairy-free yogurts out there made of nut milks, but they may not be completely dairy-free, as the live cultures used to make the yogurt may contain dairy.

There are now vegan probiotics on the market, including Now Foods (which I’ve seen at Whole Foods) and New Chapter (who are Canadian).

But if you are lactose-intolerant or vegan, and you miss yogurt, I’m going to show you how to make your own for a whole lot cheaper than you can buy in the store.

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • coconut milk (cans, or you can make your own)
  • probiotic supplement capsules (vegan option if you choose)
  • a candy thermometer
  • agar
  • a yogurt maker (or you can try one of these methods)

When I make regular yogurt, I don’t use any thickener, like cornstarch or gelatin (which are two popular ones). The natural fat in the yogourt, the cultures, and the slow cooking time naturally thicken the yogourt. I’ll sometimes strain it after if I need a really thick yogurt. But when it comes to coconut milk yogurt, you have to thicken it. Otherwise, it’ll basically come out the same consistency it went in. You could use cornstarch, but gelatin is not an option here, as it’s made from boiling the bones of animals. Agar does a very similar job to gelatin, except that it’s made from seaweed, so it’s a good vegan/vegetarian substitute.

So… after much, much, much experimenting, I finally got it down. Here you go…

Coconut Yogurt (vegan/vegetarian/lactose free)

Ingredients: 

(for each can of coconut milk–it’s not a lot, you’ll probably want to double the recipe)

  • coconut milk (1 can or 375-400 ml homemade)
  • 4 tsp agar (add 1-2 more if you like it a thicker, Greek-yogurt like consistency)
  • 1 probiotic supplement capsule

Method: 

  1. Remove 1/4 cup of coconut milk from the can, and place it in a small bowl. Add the agar to the coconut milk, and stir well, until it is all incorporated, and not lumpy.
  2. In a small-medium saucepan, heat the rest of the coconut milk to 165 degrees F.
  3. Once it reaches 165 degrees, remove it from the heat. Whisk in the reserved coconut milk that’s been thickened with the agar. Whisk well until the mixture is smooth. Allow to stand and cool until the temperature reads 110 degrees F.
  4. Crack open the probiotic capsule and add its contents to the yogurt (you can’t add it when the yogurt is hotter, as the heat will kill off the live bacteria). Mix well to incorporate.
  5. Place the yogurt in your yogurt maker, and set the timer for 8 hours. Or try one of these methods if you don’t have a yogurt maker.
  6. When the yogurt is done, it will look watery. Give it a good stir, and put it in the fridge overnight, where it will thicken to the desired consistency.
  7. You can now sweeten the yogurt, if you wish, by adding fruit, honey, or maple syrup.
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