Yogurt and vegetable kefir: an alternative to dairy products

There is often no shortage of milk and yogurt on the breakfast table, which is often paired with cereal or fruit. In recent years, there are more and more alternatives to dairy products that we can find in the supermarket, as in the case of plant-based yogurt and kefir. Of we share their benefits, how to prepare them, how to incorporate them into a balanced diet and when to consume them.

Yogurt and vegetable kefir: the benefits

Plant-based yogurts can be an excellent alternative to the classic yogurt made with cow’s milk: these are fermented products derived from “milk” extracted from the seeds or fruits of certain plant species, such as soy, almonds, coconut oroats.

They are a source of protein and fiber, have less fat than cow’s milk yogurt, and their nutritional composition differs depending on the starting vegetable drink.

An important tip is to read the label well before buying because some companies add sucrose or other sweeteners, but it is always preferable to buy products without added sugar.

Kefir can also be consumed in its plant-based versions, particularly when it is made with coconut or soy milk; it is an excellent solution for people with lactose intolerance.

How to make vegetable yogurt at home

Making vegetable yogurt at home is very simple and ensures that you consume a product that is free of added sugar, healthy and tasty.

Even those who do not have a yogurt maker can do this, and the ingredients needed are only a vegetable drink of your choice and a pot of vegetable yogurt (only for the first time, then as a starter you will use what you have made).

The fermentation process, as in the case of making cow’s yogurt, takes place at a temperature between 36°C and 40°C, which is ideal for the development of two ferments: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The resulting vegetable yogurt will be slightly less thick than cow’s yogurt, thanks to the different fat and protein composition of the starting beverage.

The procedure for making vegetable yogurt at home involves these steps:

  • Heat 500 ml of vegetable drink over moderate heat;
  • Heat the oven to the lowest setting, not letting it exceed 50 degrees, and then turn it off;
  • Pour the the vegetable drink into a bowl;
  • Add half a pot of yogurt to the bowl;
  • cover the bowl with a lid (the one on a pot is fine) and leave the bowl inside the oven off, as you would for rising bread;
  • let it sit for 10 hours, and then the yogurt will be ready and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

How to make vegetable kefir at home

Making vegetable kefir at home is super easy, and the ingredients you need are a vegetable drink of your liking (soy or coconut for example) and as a starter, a couple of tablespoons of kefir granules or a sachet of kefir ferments.

You add all the ingredients into a closed but not airtight jar and let it ferment for about 24 hours at room temperature. Once the fermentation process is finished, the liquid is strained through a strainer and stored in the refrigerator. It is recommended that kefir always be consumed fresh.

Keep a few tablespoons of the obtained kefir as a starter for a new production.

When to consume vegetable yogurt and kefir

Vegetable yogurt and kefir are perfect ingredients to have for breakfast as well as for a healthy and tasty snack. You can use them as a base for yummy smoothies or chia pudding, but also to make delicious pancakes to be topped with fresh fruit.

These ingredients are very versatile and are also well suited for savory recipes such as light sauces to accompany salads or baked fish fillets.

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