vegan coconut milk yogurt

After months of experimention I have come up with a consistently successful recipe for vegan yogurt with light coconut flavor.  It’s creamy, tart, and (ta-da) nearly as thick as Greek yogurt!   My favorite way to serve this yogurt is with fresh fruit in season and vegan super granola.  The pictured yogurt has a swirl of over-the-top raspberry sauce.  Will blog that soon!

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Stirring agar agar powder (made from seaweed) into thick oat milk is the trick to a nice thick yogurt.  Until I developed that trick, most batches were delicious but quite runny.  Too much oat milk, though thickening, tasted too ‘oaty’; tapioca flour made it lumpy; guar gum, gritty. While soaking oats, make sure your kitchen counters are clean and take a few minutes to boil some water in your medium pot, then run it over your utensils and into the yogurt-culturing container.  This discourages unwanted bacteria from ruining your batch.  The sugar is not meant to sweeten the yogurt, but to ensure that good bacteria have something to gobble up.  Incubation time can be anwhere from four to eight hours, depending on your tartness preference.

This process is simpler and easier than it looks!

Days before you start, order this online: Vegan Yogurt Starter from Cultures for Health.  You will also need these:  Yogurt Thermometer and a Yogurt Maker.  A Nut Milk Bag comes in handy too.ingred

Ingredients:
1/2 c steel-cut oats
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
1 T sugar
1 3/4 t agar agar powder
1 packet vegan yogurt starter

Method:
1.  Soak steel-cut oats in water for thirty minutes. Drain and rinse well several times. Place oats in Vitamix or blender with enough water to measure one cup on blender container. Whir for twenty seconds. Place a bowl in the sink, catch the oat milk in bowl by squeezing it through a nut milk bag (it should make one half cup of very thick milk). Set aside.

2.  Pour coconut milk in medium pot and heat at medium high for about five minutes till it reaches 140 F.  (Do not overheat or yogurt will turn out runny no matter what else you do).  Take pot off burner.  Add sugar and stir.

3.  Add agar agar to oat milk; stir well.  Add that thick mixture to hot coconut milk.

4.  Let mixture cool to 110 F, stirring occasionally to keep it from forming lumps.  (This fine 68 F fall day, it took about thirty minutes to cool.  In summer, it takes longer.)

5.  Sprinkle contents of one packet vegan yogurt starter powder into mixure; stir.  Small air bubbles are not unusual here, as you can see in the photo of mixture ready to put into yogurt maker below.

6.  Pour mixture into container of yogurt maker.  Set timer for six hours.  If you have the model I have, you can leave the house now as it will begin chilling the yogurt after your chosen incubation time.  airbubyog

Chill and enjoy!

yogredfromtop

suze’s vegan oat bars

These nutritious breakfast or snack bars are simple to make.  Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, press into a pan, and bake. That’s IT.  This is an adaptation of a recipe my Wisconsonite friend Suze, who is ‘near-vegan’ for health and environmental reasons.  As she says, this is a ‘very forgiving’ recipe — you can make swaps and it still works.  Her notes:  I only use 1/2 cup of dried fruit.  While I feel the 1 ripe banana is a must, using 1/2 cup applesauce or apple jelly plus 1/2 cup water also works well .  1 cup of cranberry juice is great too!  Oh!  And lining the pan with parchment makes cleanup a breeze!  

Ha, leave it to me to use three times the fruit called for…and a heaping half cup of nuts!

 

snackbar

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Bake Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 c old-fashioned oats
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wht flour
1/4 c ground flaxseed
2 T hemp seed (optional)
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground clove
1/3 c each dried blueberries, cranberries, raisins (or any combination of dried fruits)
1/2 c toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 ripe banana
1 c apple juice
1 t vanilla

Method:

Step One: Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with coconut oil.

Step Two: Mix dry ingredients well. Toss in fruit and toasted nuts; mix.

Step Three: Mash the banana. Mix it with apple juice and vanilla.

Step Four: Pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir well with wooden spoon; use hands if needed.

Step Five: Press into greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 375. Cool slightly before cutting. Makes 16 -24 bars or squares, depending how you cut them.

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vegan apricot lemon tahini squares

I like to keep something sweet, nutritious, and easy to grab and go, in the house at all times.  Since the cashew cranberry carob squares  disappeared so fast, I decided to concoct another no-bake dried fruit and nut/seed square.  Tahini (sesame paste) is delicious with dates, chunks of apricot, and lemon.  Read up on tahini’s nutritional benefits at Gentle World.

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Makes 16 squares

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup (make it a heaping half cup) pitted dates
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
4 T roasted unsalted tahini
zest of two lemons
fresh juice of those two lemons
2 T sesame seeds, to sprinkle over top
just a little coconut oil for greasing pan

Method:
Step One:  Gather ingredients and zest lemons. Chop by hand 1/3 of the apricots and set aside.

tahinigathered

Step Two: Pulse cashews in food processor till they’re chopped up medium-fine. Be careful not to turn them into nut butter.

Step Three: Remove chopped cashews from food processor. Process dried fruits, coconut, tahini, rolled oats, and lemon zest for 20 seconds or until mixture is well combined but not completely pureed.

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Step Four: Squeeze lemon juice into the mixture; pulse another 10 seconds.

Step Five: Using your hands, mix cashews and reserved chopped apricots into tahini mixture in a large bowl. If it seems dry, wet your hands with just a bit of water. (Oil content in tahini varies, and amount of lemon juice in a lemon varies).

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Step Six: Press mixture into glass 8 x 8 dish lightly greased with a very small amount of coconut oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and press them into the top. Chill for twenty minutes and cut into squares. Store in ziploc bags or other container in the fridge or freezer.

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cashew cranberry carob squares

These nut, fruit and carob squares without added sugar remind me of the cubes sold in bulk bins at many health food stores20131003_141805, Chunks of Energy.  They’re perfect for when you want something sweet with coffee or chai, or a glass of almond milk, without going into the cookie jar or raiding the chocolate stash.  Simple to make, too!  The formula upon which these are loosely based comes from Maria Makes Muffins, a clean eating (nonvegan) blog.  You could form them into balls and roll them in coconut, but I like to press the mixture into an 8 x 8 square pan, chill, and cut them.  If you like the extra tang, toss 1/4 cup more dried cranberries in as you mix it all together!!

Update:  I wanted to make these for something sweet to pack in lunches, but had no cashews in the house.  So I substituted raw walnuts (1 cup) and added raw sunflower seeds (1/3 cup).  The results are incredibly yummy!  Pulse walnuts in food processor and remove them, just as you would cashews, and toss the sunflower seeds in with the remaining ingredients.

Makes 16 squares
Prep Time: 10 minutes (or less!)
Chill Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup flaked coconut, plus a little more to sprinkle on top
2 T tahini
2 T carob powder
zest of one orange
fresh juice of that same orange
just a little coconut oil for greasing pan

Method:

Step One:  Gather ingredients and zest the orange.

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Step Two:  Pulse cashews in food processor till they’re chopped up medium-fine.  Be careful not to turn them into nut butter.

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Step Three:  Remove chopped cashews from food processor.  Process the dried fruits, coconut, tahini, carob powder, and orange zest for 20 seconds or until mixture is well combined but not completely pureed.

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Step Four:  Squeeze orange juice into the mixture; pulse another 10 seconds.

Step Five:  Using your hands, mix cashews into carob mixture in a large bowl.  20131003_134004

Step Six:  Press mixture into glass 8 x 8 dish lightly greased with a very small amount of coconut oil.  Sprinkle with a little flaked coconut and press it into the top.  Chill for twenty minutes and cut into squares.  Store in ziploc bags or other container in the fridge or freezer.

pumped-up pumpkin squares

I thank Jessica at cleangreensimple.com for her oatmeal pumpkin bars , which inspired this recipe for luscious yet nutritious snack bars.  They’re pumped up nutritionally and texturally with roasted pumpkin seeds.  And since there’s not a chocolate chip in every bite, you might even get away with calling them breakfast!  Add a little brown rice syrup to the pumpkin layer if you’d like it sweet, and/or sprinkle twice the amount of chocolate chips over the bottom layer to turn them into dessert.  They are most enjoyable warmed up!

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prep time: 12 minutes

bake time: 40 minutes      cooling time: about 40 minutes (for ease of cutting)

makes 20 squares.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with vegan buttery sticks or a little coconut oil.

Ingredients:

bottom layer:

2 c old-fashioned oats

2 c almond meal

1/2 c walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 c brown rice syrup

1/2 c coconut oil

2 pinches salt

a few generous pinches ground nutmeg

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

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In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for bottom layer.  Press into greased baking dish.

over top of crust layer:

1/4 c roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds

1/4 c vegan semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)

Sprinkle pumpkin seeds and choc. chips over bottom layer, and press them in slightly.

pumkincrustmade

addedchipsandseeds

pumpkin layer:

2 15 oz cans pureed pumpkin

1 14 oz can coconut milk

1/2 c smooth almond butter

1/2 c potato starch

2 tsp vanilla

3 tsp cinnamon

3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

few generous dashes nutmeg

pumpkinwetingred

In a medium-large bowl, combine pumpkin layer ingredients and mix by hand till smooth. Taste and adjust spices to your liking.  Spread filling evenly over bottom layer.  Bake 40 minutes and/or till top is very lightly browned.  Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then place in fridge for 20-40 more minutes so they’ll cut up nicely.

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