Coconut Milk Yogurt

Coconut Milk Yogurt | dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, AIP | AmandaNaturally.comYogurt is one of the foods I miss the most, since having to avoid dairy. Unfortunately there are no good alternatives out there. And while there are some expensive cultured almond or coconut snacks available, they are filled with stabilizers, gums and other weird ingredients – so I don’t touch them. Not to mention they’re always super low fat, so what’s the point? I had resigned myself to not having any yogurt ever again, until I got an Instant Pot and can now make homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt! I guess I could have used this recipe with a standard yogurt maker, or the old school way of a pot in an oven overnight, but alas, it took me getting this awesome kitchen gadget to figure it out!

Not only is yogurt super delicious, but it is another probiotic rich food. Supporting the gut bacteria through regular consumption of probiotic foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut, is one of the best things you can do for the health of your entire body! And when probiotic foods are as delicious as this coconut milk yogurt, it’s not hard to consume it on a regular basis!

Coconut Milk Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of coconut milk (I like the brand Aroy D because it doesn’t contain any guar gum or carrageenan. I get it at an Asian Supermarket, but apparently it’s been found at places like Walmart and Superstore.)
  • 2 packets Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter OR ½ cup yogurt from your previous batch
  • 2 tsp gelatin (My favourite brand is Vital Proteins green tub, which unfortunately is still on backorder on Amazon at the time of publishing this post, but if you’re in Whitby you can grab some at our office.  Great Lakes red carton is a great alternative, available on both Amazon and at stores like Healthy Planet.)

 

Directions

1. Heat 4 cups of full-fat coconut milk (I prefer the Aroy D brand) in a pot, to 110F. Use a candy thermometer, or an electronic meat thermometer ( <– another favourite kitchen gadget). Stir frequently, it only takes a few minutes. As soon as the temperature hits 110F, pull it off the heat.

 

2. Immediately whisk in ½ cup of a previous batch of yogurt (you can use dairy if tolerated, store-bought or your previous batch) or 2 packets of Vegan Yogurt Culture (I love the Cultures for Health product, although it does have a bit of rice starch in it – something to note if you’re sensitive or following the AIP protocol). NOTE: Apparently you can use 2 or 3 probiotic capsules, but I haven’t tried this. (UPDATE: a friend told me she uses ¼ tsp of probiotic powder, or 2-3 capsules, and 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup)

 

3. Whisk in 2 tsp grassfed gelatin. Without this, it won’t thicken. You will still have a yummy, tangy coconut milk, but it will definitely be milk, not yogurt. NOTE: Apparently you can use agar agar to keep it vegan, but I haven’t tried this since I’m always looking for extra ways to get in gelatin!

 

4. Pour into jars, or a glass bowl (that fits in the pot), and place in the bottom of the Instant Pot. NOTE: don’t put the yogurt directly in the Instant Pot. Since it is stainless steel, mine retains a slight hint of what was previously cooked – usually broth. And trust me, broth-flavoured coconut yogurt is not good.

 

5. Secure the lid (or place the glass lid on), press the “yogurt” button, adjust the time to 12 hours and walk away. NOTE: if you don’t like really tangy yogurt, start checking the flavour around 8 hours.

Coconut Milk Yogurt | dairy-free | AmandaNaturally.com

 

6. 12 hours later, remove from Instant Pot and store in fridge for a few hours to let set. If you are planning to make another batch, store ½ cup in a separate container to use again later. NOTE: I have found that I can only do this a few times, before I need to reinoculate with a new batch of probiotics/yogurt starter. Likely because there isn’t enough sugar in the coconut milk to support continual growth. You might have success by adding sugar or a simple starch like potato or tapioca, to encourage more growth.

7. Yogurt lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge, although it will start to separate after about a week. That’s just what happens when you don’t use any emulsifiers! It’s perfectly fine to eat!

Add Ins:

  • In step 3, I also add in a liberal amount of collagen peptides, which doesn’t gel. This adds extra protein and extra gut/joint/skin healing goodness.
  • In step 5 you can add in additional flavours such as:
    – fruit
    – honey or maple syrup
    – vanilla extract
    – cocoa powder

 

Alternative Methods of Yogurt Prep

I love the Instant Pot because it’s a one-stop shop. It quickly became the most used (and loved) gadget in my kitchen. If you make bone broth regularly, it’s a no-brainer to add to your arsenal. However, it’s definitely not the cheapest item, and there are other ways to make yogurt that don’t require this gadget. Check out the following resources if you want to make coconut-milk yogurt sans the Instant Pot.

Simple Stove/Oven Method

Dehydrator Method

Yogurt Maker Method

NOTE: the directions in the above links use cow milk. With coconut milk, you do not need to heat it to 200F first because there is no bacteria that needs to be pasteurized out.

Dairy Yogurt

If you tolerate dairy, you can absolutely follow the same instructions, just make sure you heat the milk to about 200F first and let it cool before following steps 1-7 above. Cow, goat and sheep milk can all be used! The reason for making your own dairy-yogurt is purely for nutritional value (and cost!). It can be extremely challenging to find quality dairy that is also higher in fat, and since the fat is what contains most of the nutrients from dairy, that’s what you want to be eating! Look for grassfed or organic yogurt that is as high fat as possible. I’m talking at minimum 2-3%, but ideally higher than that. Since that kind of product is hard to come by, purchasing organic or grassfed milk (or goat/sheep milk) and making your own yogurt is a solid option – not to mention friendlier on the wallet!

Green Mango Smoothie

Green Mango Smoothie | AmandaNaturally.comI’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never been a big smoothie fan. When I started down my health journey, I had a smoothie every morning for breakfast for about 2 years, then hit a wall and haven’t enjoyed them in years. However, so many people love them, and they are a great healthy option for fast and on-the-go meals, so I’ve always kept them in my arsenal when working with clients.

Recently, smoothies have totally been my jam. This is for a few reasons:

  1. It’s summer, crazy hot and I am 7 months pregnant
  2. My stomach is small so a liquid breakfast allows me to get in more nutrition right now
  3. I have a lot of appointments so I often come back from the gym, have a half hour turn around and am out the door to the chiro or midwives. Or I’m seeing clients of my own. So even though I’m not a big fan of eating on the go (it’s important to relax in order to digest friends!), taking a smoothie in the car has been a life saver some mornings.
  4. It’s hot. I’m hot. Smoothies are cold and therefore taste AMAZING. For breakfast, lunch or dinner. Did I mention I’m hot? (#pregancyproblems)

If you haven’t read my detailed post on How To Build a Healthy Smoothie – go read it now! It also has a recipe for a chocolate smoothie – which is great for moving kids (or adults) over to a real food breakfast when they’re used to sugar-filled ones. 

This recipe for my Green Mango Smoothie has been my go-to this summer. The tropical flavour combination is so delicious, and it’s a great opportunity to get some extra veggies in, as well as collagen protein (one of the amazing nutrients found in bone broth, that is critical for bone/connective tissue development – key for pregnancy, and healing in general)! Not to mention protein when my stomach is feeling small, haha.

 

Choosing a Protein Powder

This can be a bit of a learning process to find your favourite. Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Collagen Peptides by Vital Proteins – hands down my favourite. No flavour, incredibly good for your entire body (gut, joints, bones, skin, hair, nails – pretty much everything.). It’s often available on Amazon.ca but as of pressing publish on this post (July 14/16), it’s out of stock right now. Alternatively, Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate is a good option and can sometimes be found at health food stores like Healthy Planet. 
    1. safe on the autoimmune protocol
    2. great for kids
    3. not a complete protein, so not a good post-workout option (at least not on its own), but great as part of a balanced diet that includes whole protein sources like meat, fish and eggs.
  2. Organic, Grassfed or New Zealand Whey – the most bioavailable, easy to use protein, BUT made from dairy. So if you do not tolerate dairy, this is not an option for you. If you do tolerate whey protein, getting a plain, high quality protein is your best bet. My favourite brand is Prairie Naturals because it’s much more local than New Zealand whey, but nutritionally they are on par.
    1. SIDE NOTE: it took me 5 years of strict dairy-free and epic amounts of gut healing before I was able to reintroduce whey protein.
  3. Hemp Protein – I like the Manitoba Harvest brand because they use coconut sugar to sweeten, instead of stevia like most other natural brands (which can be a gut irritant for some). It’s a little grainy, so I often recommend using a half dose in combination with a scoop of collagen.
  4. Pumpkin Seed Protein – the only brand I have seen is Omega Alpha. It’s similar to hemp in that it’s grainy, but it has no other ingredients.
  5. Brown Rice Protein – this is my least favourite, personally, because it tastes like sand to me. But it’s my husband’s favourite. He thinks it’s less grainy than hemp or pumpkin, and doesn’t tolerate whey. His go-to is the Prairie Naturals brand (full-disclosure, he formulates products for them, so has a slight bias towards the company. But he also works for them because he loves their products and values as a company!)

Things to avoid in protein powders:Green Mango Smoothie | AmandaNaturally.com

  • aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame-potassium (all artificial sweeteners)
  • artificial flavours
  • colours
  • pea protein, a common component of most plant-based/vegan protein powders (very cheap, incredibly hard on the gut)
  • soy protein (unless it’s organic, it’s guaranteed to be GMO and covered in RoundUp, not to mention soy can be very estrogenic, which can be useful under the direction of a practitioner, just don’t go it alone)

Green Mango Smoothie

Green Mango Smoothie
Serves 1
Healthy, nutrient dense and tastes like the tropics!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup frozen mango pieces
  2. 1 small banana (or ½ a ripe avocado)
  3. 1 handful of spinach
  4. ¼ cup full-fat canned coconut milk (preferred brand: Aroy D)
  5. ½ tsp vanilla extract (omit for strict AIP)
  6. pinch of sea salt
  7. ½ - ¾ cup water (depending on desired thickness)
  8. 1 serving of protein (approximately 15-25g)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until the spinach is thoroughly broken down.
  3. Enjoy!
Protein Powder Options
  1. MY FAV: 1 scoop Vital Proteins collagen + 1 scoop Prairie Natrurals whey or Manitoba Harvest hemp
  2. AIP: only use collagen (1-2 scoops)
  3. POST-WO: whey, hemp or brown rice
Amanda Naturally http://www.amandanaturally.com/

My Second Trimester

Welcome to the second instalment of my personal experiences during my pregnancy. If you haven’t read the first part (and if you want to!) check it out here.

My second trimester was a lot less eventful. I got through the minor symptoms that I was experiencing in my first trimester – namely pretty serious fatigue, and occasional nausea popping up if I wasn’t on point with my food. As most other women say, the second trimester was the smoothest and I felt most like myself! By 16 weeks I didn’t even feel pregnant anymore – except for my slight baby bump!

Major Trends / Lessons Learned in my 2nd Trimester

Nutrients – still my major focus. Lots of collagen (smoothies, jello), bone broth, salmon, veggies, liver, egg yolks and ferments (like kombucha and sauerkraut).

Major Appetite in the Morning – I used to get up, have a coffee and go to the gym. In my first trimester, I ate a banana pre-crossfit, but that was no longer sufficient as of 14 weeks. I needed something quick, mostly carbs with some protein, that I could easily eat before the gym. So I stalked up on some clean sandwich meat (duBreton ham) and a clean gluten-free bread (from Cup of Tea Bakery), and I started having a ham-sandwich (and sometimes a banana too!) before the gym in the morning. While this isn’t the most nutrient dense snack, my body tolerates it really well, it allows me to exercise first thing, and it wasn’t actually replacing another nutrient-dense meal. This snack is in addition to my 3 nutrient-dense meals.

Staying Hydrated – The one thing I desperately crave is water, and it can come on out of nowhere. So I never leave the house without a large bottle of water. With summer approaching and the temperature starting to creep up, I felt like I was drinking tons of water, but not actually absorbing any. So I started adding lemon and a pinch of sea salt, to add electrolytes and enhance absorption. I also started drinking mineral water with lime occasionally. I also just decided to go with it and drink lots of water when I needed it!

Longer Breaks between Meals – by 16 weeks I felt back to myself, and was able to go back to my standard 4-6 hours between meals. As long as I had that early morning snack, 3 squares for the rest of the day worked great. This started to change as I approached my 3rd trimester and my stomach volume started to shrink (see end of post)!

Blood Glucose Testing – because my diet is quite dialled in (I pretty much eat the way I recommend to diabetics), and I haven’t been indulging in junk during this pregnancy, I know my body will not respond well to the glucose load they give you. Not to mention the fact that it’s corn syrup + orange food dye – both of which I avoid like the plague. So I chose to opt out of the standard blood sugar testing, with total support from my midwives and my family doctor. That being said, I was not irresponsible and stopped thinking about it altogether. I did 2 things instead (1) I did a blood test for my HbA1C, a really good indicator of how your body handles your glucose load and (2) around the 26 week mark, I checked my blood sugars using a finger prick test (available at your pharmacy) a few times. What’s right for you? Well that’s for you to decide with your health care provider. However, you do have options. If your diet isn’t optimal for managing blood sugar (high in grains, flour-based foods, sugar etc. or needing to eat every 2-3 hours) or if you have a risk for gestational diabetes, you definitely want to make sure your blood sugars are in check. You can usually do a typical blood glucose test with your doc, but ask for a cleaner sugar-load (like dates, bananas or even honey) so see if your doc will go with that. Alternatively, finger-prick tests are a great option!

Increased Appetite Overall – this is likely compounded by the fact that I workout 3-4 days/week still. So when I feel the need to eat more, I do. I just keep it real, whole foods. Most of the 2nd trimester I just ate more at each meal – I was often eating more than my husband! 

Gaining Weight – I did not worry whatsoever about gaining weight. My number one goal was to make sure I was providing my body with enough nutrients to allow a new human to be built (holy jeez that’s a crazy thought, still!) but also with enough fuel to support the energy demands of both building a baby, but also living an active life and crossfitting 3-4x/week. Interestingly, I didn’t gain a pound until after 20 weeks, even though I was consuming more than my 6’4″ husband!! I listened to my body and when I was hungry, I ate. I just made it (mostly) real, whole foods.

Crossfit – The beginning of my 2nd trimester I was still rocking along. I did the crossfit open (and got my first chest to bar pull ups!) at 12 weeks pregnant, and even PRd some lifts! The one thing I always did was keep my breath rate in check, cause if I was panting, baby wasn’t getting oxygen. This was hard at the beginning because I felt like myself, but knew I needed to keep my intensity level down – particularly challenging for a competitive individual like myself! Luckily, as my belly started to grow, it became much easier to handle 🙂 By about 22 weeks I was no longer able to do olympic lifting, and while many pregnant women continue doing snatches and cleans with a belly, it seemed very counterintuitive to me. The whole focus of olympic lifting is to keep the bar as close to your torso as possible, which takes so much practice. To change form for a few months, and have the bar go out and around the belly, not only increases risk of injury, but undoes all of the hard work I’ve put in so far. So instead, I switched to dumbbell cleans/snatches, KB swings, or technique work on parts of the lifts (like pulls, jerks or snatch balances). Outside of that, I didn’t have to change too much!

Heat Tolerance – well this was shocking. I used to be able to work out in 35 degree weather, no problem. But now, sitting outside in the shade for 15+ minutes in that kinda heat left me seriously nauseated. I’m having to be really careful about staying cool.

Energy Levels Overall – as of 26 weeks I started experiencing shortness of breath (which makes sense if you know what happens to your internal organs during pregnancy). I’m also quite a bit bigger so moving a little slower. As always, I’m listening to my body and resting when I need to – even if that means taking a nap when there’s something else I need/want to be doing, skipping a work out (which I don’t love doing) or opting out of social events that I know will be draining. 

 

Transition to 3rd Trimester (26 weeks on…)

My stomach volume clearly started shrinking around 25/26 weeks (check out this video to see what happens to your internal organs during pregnancy!) and it is definitely impacting how I have to eat. I can no longer eat a large meal, and cruise on that for 4-6 hours (which is what I recommend in my practice – best for blood sugar regulation, gut health, being able to use both carbs and fat as fuel, and preventing “hanger”). Due to my uterus/baby squishing my stomach, eating a large meal results in serious discomfort – not reflux, but tons of pressure. Clearly there’s no room! So I’m now onto 3 small meals + 2-3 larger snacks throughout the day. For example:

Pre-workout: ham sandwich (2 slices clean ham + 2 pieces GF bread)

Breakfast: 2 eggs + greens + ½ cup potatoes OR green mango smoothie 

Lunch: leftovers (usually 3-4oz meat, veggies, starch) OR eggs (if smoothie for breakfast) OR can of fish + salad + ½ bag plantain chips

Snack: small smoothie (blueberries, cherries, water, collagen) OR apple + organic PB OR banana muffin with coconut oil/ghee OR liver pate + apple slices OR plain, full-fat goat yogurt + collagen + blueberries

Dinner: 3 oz meat or fish + veggies + starch (fried plantains, white rice cooked in bone broth, potatoes, sweet potatoes or sweet potato noodles)

Snack: fruit OR banana muffin OR organic cherries with coconut milk OR ½ ham sandwich

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