Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Ode to Cottage Cheese

 

I’ve never really given cottage cheese a chance but lately I haven’t been able to get enough of it!  Cottage cheese is great for dieters and body builders.  It is one of the most filling healthy foods and is perfect to stop a junk food craving.  Cottage cheese is loaded with protein and calcium and it is one of the lowest fat foods in the dairy/cheese food group.  It’s great for breakfast, a bedtime snack, or a snack at any given time of day.  You simply can’t go wrong.

 For those of you who like a bedtime snack, cottage cheese is one of your best options as it is made up of slow-digesting casein protein and few carbs.  The slow digesting proteins keep your amino acid levels up through the night, which discourages muscle breakdown while you ‘fasting’ during your 8ish hours of sleep.

I mostly opt for low fat, small curd cheese.  If you are watching your sodium intake I recommend a lower sodium brand, as cottage cheese is high in sodium, it’s only downfall, in my opinion.

My favorite ways to eat cottage cheese:

 

Mixed with Fruit (mandarin oranges, pineapple, peaches and cantaloupe are my top choices)

 

Veggie dip. Just throw some cottage cheese in a blender along with your favorite herbs and you have a perfect alternative to your typical high fat veggie dip.

 

Sauces. Cottage cheese can be used to thicken up any sauce without losing any flavor.  Forget your rue of butter and flour adding unnecessary fats!

With cherry tomatoes and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

 

Substitute for Ricotta.  Use cottage cheese as a healthier alternative for ricotta in recipes.  With the similar texture, your taste buds will never notice the difference…you will however see the difference in your waistline!

 Substitute for sour cream. Top your baked potato with cottage cheese rather than fatty sour cream.

Drizzled with honey, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts. Makes a perfect low calorie dessert to satisfy my sweet tooth!

 

I have heard many other ways people enjoy their cottage cheese, with peanut butter, tuna, sunflower seeds, artichokes, and the list goes on!  Seems as though I have a lot more experiencing to do! 

What is your favorite way to dress up cottage cheese?

Percent of Adults Who are Overweight or Obese By State

Came across a really cool website today, World Life Expectancy where you can see graphs of life expectancy by country or state.  You can also see the leading causes of death, country health profiles, difference between gender/race, etc.  You have to browse for yourself to see the vast array of info they collect but below you’ll see an interesting chart of percentages of obese adults by state.  How’d your state do?

Workout for Swimmers

Workout plans are not only important in the gym but in the water as well.  Instead of swimming aimlessly, find or make up a workout with times to stick by so you are actually pushing yourself and getting your heart rate up.   If you have access to a pool I highly recommend you switching up your basic gym routine and adding swimming to the mix.  It is great for endurance we well as strength training. 

Below you will find a great 1 hour sprint workout.  If the intervals don’t work for you, adjust as necessary.

Reps Distance Interval Stroke Type Comment Totals
1 400 06:00 choice warm-up  Easy 400 / 06:00
6 50 00:50 freestyle swim   300 / 05:00
6 50 00:55 freestyle swim 10 Yards dolphin kick off the wall 300 / 05:30
8 25 01:00 freestyle swim Odds: Easy
Evens: Fast
200 / 08:00
10 150 03:15 see comments swim 3/6/9: IM
others: free
1500 / 32:30
1 100 02:00 choice warm-down Easy 100 / 02:00

 

Top 25 Benefits of Regular Exercise

  1. Improves control of blood sugar and reduces incidence of diabetes by about 50%.
  2. Elevates your metabolism so that you burn more calories everyday.
  3. Increases your energy levels.  Physical activity helps you cardio vascular system (circulation of blood through your heard and blood vessels) work more efficiently.  When your aerobic capacity increases you have the ability to go through your day with less relative energy expenditure. A “fit” person will have more energy at the end of the day and is able to get more accomplished during the day.
  4. Increases the oxidation (breakdown and use) of fat.
  5. Boosts high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol.
  6. Maintains, tones, and strengthens your muscle. Exercise increases your muscular endurance to make every day tasks easier for you.
  7. Promotes better sleep.  Physical activity helps you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.  A good night’s sleep will improve your concentration, productivity and your mood.
  8. Improves cognition and memory.  Exercise stimulates the formation of new brain cells and researchers have found that the areas of the brain that are stimulated are responsible for memory and learning.
  9. Helps you manage or lose weight. (Duh)
  10. Improves cardiovascular health.  Lack of physical activity is a major risk for cardiovascular diseases.  Regular exercise makes your heart stronger so it can pump more blood with less effort.
  11. Increases hemoglobin concentration in your blood. Hemoglobin is part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
  12. Increases the strength of the bones and prevents osteoporosis.
  13. Causes the development of new blood vessels in the heart and other muscles.
  14. Decreases blood pressure.  High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Inactive people are two times more likely to develop high blood pressure than active people.
  15. Decreases the tendency of the blood to clot in the blood vessels. This is important because small clots traveling in the blood are often the cause of heart attacks and strokes.
  16. Enlarges the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
  17. Decreases blood levels of triglycerides (fat).
  18. Decreases Arthritis Symptoms.  Exercise increases the thickness of cartilage in joints, which has a protective effect.  It also helps keep joints flexible and helps build muscle to support the joint.
  19. Decreases Number of Sick Days: Those who exercise feel sick almost 30% less often than those who don’t.
  20. Increases the efficiency of the digestive system, which can reduce the incidence of colon cancer by up to 60%.
  21. Decreases Chance of Premature Death: Fit people generally live longer than unfit people.
  22. Decreases a woman’s risk of developing endometriosis by 50%.
  23. Increases the amount of blood that flows to the skin making it look and feel healthier.
  24. Boosts your self-confidence.  Exercise makes you feel better about yourself and builds up your self-esteem.
  25. Improves your mood.  Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.  It is the best stress reliever.

Commit to be Healthy TODAY

Don’t let this be you.  There will always be a reason to postpone your lifestyle makeover so just stop with the excuses and start today!

Are nonsodium salts healthier than traditional?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it’s Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Kristan of Atlanta, Georgia

My sister and I were talking about salt. She has noticed that sea salt is currently being marketed as a healthy, or trendy, food additive, but can’t figure out if there’s any real science behind the marketing. Are nonsodium salts, like magnesium chloride and potassium chloride, any healthier than traditional sodium chloride? People with, say, high blood pressure are told to stick to low-sodium diets. But is it the sodium, or is it a different quality that causes the increased risk?

Expert answer

Hi Kristan. In light of the new dietary guidelines for Americans that came out this week recommending a reduction in sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, and a further reduction in intake to 1,500 milligrams a day among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, I thought this was a good time to answer this question.

Lowering sodium helps lower blood pressure, one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke, because too much sodium intake leads to water retention, which stretches blood vessel walls, leading to high blood pressure. This is particularly important as people age and blood vessels become more stiff, leading to even further increases in blood pressure.

Sea salt is a less-processed form of sodium, which may contain trace amounts of minerals, but by weight contains the same amount of sodium. It has a coarser texture and is not as finely ground as table salt, so an equivalent serving size contains slightly less sodium due to the larger volume of the salt crystals (you get less per serving).

In addition, some people find that it has slightly more flavor, so they can get away with using less, which is always a good thing. While sea salt does contain minute amounts of iodine, it does not have iodine added as table salt does. Iodine deficiency is relatively uncommon in the United States, so this should not be a major concern for most people.

Salt substitutes usually contain potassium chloride, which does not raise blood pressure as sodium chloride (table salt) does. It should, however, be used with caution in those with kidney disease, heart failure or on blood pressure or heart medications that increase potassium levels.

A better option is to use herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals to keep salt intake down. Even more important, limit your intake of processed and prepared foods (grocery and restaurant) as these foods make up more than 70% of our daily salt intake, while added salt makes up only about 10% (the remainder comes from naturally occurring salt). To my knowledge, magnesium chloride is used to melt ice and snow on roads, not as an edible salt substitute.

Super Sized Sunday: Unhealthiest Super Bowl Foods

We all get our cheat days every now and then but it is still important to know what you are eating.  Check out the worst super bowl foods below and their nutrition facts.  Recognize the serving size since just looking at the facts you may not think something is THAT bad….but think about how you aimlessly dip that chip into the 7 layer dip until its gone.  Serving size is about 2 tablespoons so chances are you are eating many many servings!  Enjoy your day and don’t deprive yourself…just be mindful and know what you are eating!

Buffalo Wings: Just 6 chicken wings can have about 600 calories and 40 grams of fat!  And this does not even include the heeping scoop of blue cheese dressing you are chasing each wing with.

Beer: Yes I just couldn’t resist using this picture again; its just too ridiculous not to.  We all love to enjoy a nice cold beer with football but it never ends there…especially on days like the superbowl.  One beer has about 150 calories and 12 carbs so multiply this by< _?__> and chances are a lot of you have hit your calories intake for the day with beer alone!  Also, the more alcohol you are drinking, the more likely you are to lose control and overeat even more. 

Nachos: A must have of many. Nachos are full of saturated fat and do not offering any other redeeming nutrients.  A plate of loaded nachos can have 1,500 calories, 150 grams of carbs, 80 grams of fat, and 1,500 mgs of sodium.  Check out our healthier Greek Nachos for a nice alternative.

7 Layer Dip: More like the 7 circles of hell.  This is nothing more than fat, layered upon fat, layered upon fat, topped with some olives (I hate olives) and tomatoes.  Sour cream, cream cheese, high-fat ground beef, fatty processed cheese, guacamole (fatty, although good fat), and whatever else people toss into this Frankenstein of a dip.  One plate of this has more than 4,000 calories…if you are splitting this thing 4-5 ways, you’re getting close to half a days calories right here.  For a healthier, and tastier option, try making an Old Bay seasoned crab dip.  Use a little light mayo and save a ton of calories.

Brats: I must admit, I love a good brat.  Not the Johnsonville nonsense that most people pick up at the grocery store, but a genuine butcher shop brat.  These things are exploding with artery clogging fat though.  While I’m not going to tell you to completely skip these wonderful creations, try to limit yourself to just one.  (I’ve been known to eat 4-5 links in a sitting before).

Ribs: Another fan favorite.  Good ribs are traditionally the high-fat pork variety.  Often they will be slow cooked for hours and hours bringing out all the smokey goodness.  That said, they are incredibly high in calories.  Just one rib contains a couple hundred calories.  Not to mention, if you top your ribs with sugary, carb-laden BBQ sauce, you are adding even more calories to this monstrocity. 

Fried Chicken: It’s hard to do fried chicken bad (unless you’re KFC).  The crispy, crunchy exterior encasing the juicy and tender meat inside is hard to pass up.  However, when anything is deep-fried, you know its going to be bad for you.  Grams upon grams of saturated and trans fats make this a snack to avoid, or at least limit your consumption of.  Trans fats are notorious for being one of the worst things you can put in your body.  To make a healthy substitute, try breading your chicken in panko crumbs, then baking in the oven.  You will hardly be able to tell the difference.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Don’t let the spinach and artichoke fool you.  This dip is made up with mayo, cream cheese, sour cream, and other cheeses of choice.  Quarter cup of this dip with a few chips is about 350 cals, 20 grams of fat, and 700 mgs of sodium.  Always remember, just because a dish contains vegetables does NOT make it healthy! This dip is just as bad as the other items on this list.

Pigs in a Blanket – Here and there, these things aren’t too bad.  The problem is, no one ever eats just one or two.  By piling your plate with 6, 7, or 8+ of these little devils, you are really going to overload on the fat and calories.  Maybe you top yours with some sugar filled ketchup (yup, ketchup has high sugar content).  Now your increasing your carb intake along with the fat.  Try to limit yourself to no more than 3, and use mustard instead of ketchup.

Healthy Foods: 7 Ways to Be a Healthier Shopper

Some great tips below from Kristen Kirkpatick.

When you read a nutrition label, what do you look for first? If you’re like many Americans, you answered “calories.”

Calories are important, but what if you turned around two labels without knowledge of the products and realized that per serving, each had only 100 calories. Both seem pretty harmless. But consider that 18 large strawberries and 11 small gummy bears each have about 100 calories. The strawberries are full of fiber, potassium, folate and vitamin C — nutrients that will enhance your health. The gummy bears are full of sugar, and other than a few gel stabilizers, nothing else. Although both are 100 calories, the quality of those calories isn’t even comparable. Understanding the 100-calorie example and adapting a few other rules may be all you need to be savvy grocery store shopper.

It’s More About Quality Than Quantity

If the ingredients are whole and understandable to the average individual (not a scientist) then you can assess the numbers and make your decision on whether to buy the product or not. The more ingredients the product has, the more likely it’s not a great option for you. I see this all time with energy/protein bars.

A popular brand that many of my clients purchase has about 53 ingredients in it, many of which I can’t even pronounce. The bar I choose to keep at my desk has three ingredients — dates, almonds and unsweetened cherries. It tastes great, has about the same calories as the other bar (and even a little more healthy fat).

If The Front-Of-Package Claim Doesn’t Make Sense, Don’t Buy It

Examples include “reduced-fat peanut butter” or “fat-free salad dressing.” Aside from a bit of fiber and protein, peanuts are all fat. The majority of the fat in a peanut is the healthy kind that has been shown to reduce the risk of both heart attack and type 2 diabetes.

So how do they manage to make a reduced fat version? Quite easy in fact. Fat has nine calories per gram whereas protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram. Sugar, the ingredient of choice in many fat free and reduced fat products, has not only fewer calories but no fat. In the quest to produce a lower fat peanut product, the manufacturer wins and unfortunately, you lose.

Similar to the peanut butter example, most fat-free salad dressings are considerably lower in calories and fat due to replacement with sugar. I often tell my Lifestyle 180 participants during our grocery store tour, “You wouldn’t pour sugar packets on your salad … but you’re essentially doing just that with these fat-free dressings.”

I admit, the low-calorie option is attractive, but the simple sugars found in these products will cause a large spike and subsequent drop in blood sugar, leaving you hungry for more food soon after. While you’ll save calories short term with the fat-free option, you’re actually more likely to eat more calories throughout the course of the day and the chances of you actually gaining weight because of your choice goes up.

Ignore The Front Of The Package

This is where creative marketing occurs. For the facts, focus on the nutrition label where fact prevails.

Know Where To Look For Trans Fat (Hint: It’s Not In The Numbers)

Under the U.S. Labeling Laws, a product can claim to be “free” of a certain nutrient as long as it provides 0.5 grams or less per serving. Therefore, a product may have trans fat and still claim to be “trans fat free” in the marketing and nutritional label as long as it complies with these laws.

Unfortunately for the consumer, trans fat has been linked to increased risk of heart disease by increasing your bad LDL cholesterol and increasing your good HDL cholesterol.

Most health experts agree that trans fat provides no benefit to the consumer and should be avoided in any amount. You can avoid trans fat by looking at the ingredient label for “partially hydrogenated oils.” The key here is looking at the list of ingredients for that word, not trusting that it is truly trans fat free just because there is a zero on the label.

The Terms ‘Natural’ And ‘Organic’ Don’t Always Mean Healthy

Many of my clients put a food product in their cart simply because it has a “natural” or “organic” claim. These claims can be confusing to consumers and they imply that the food product is essentially better or healthier than other food options. This is not always the case.

A great example of this is the popular sandwich cream cookie. Many of my clients bought the cookie because of its organic claim on the front of the package, believing it was a healthier option. Upon further examination, however, they would have realized that the organic cookie option and the regular cookie option had virtually the same calories, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and sugar. The ingredient label still displayed ingredients that provided no nutritional bang for their buck and if they really wanted a cookie, they could have saved a few dollars and bought the original version.

The term certified organic is regulated by the USDA, and farmers who produce organic foods must follow USDA rules and regulations. The label with the term “natural” means the product is made without artificial ingredients — but that doesn’t mean that all natural ingredients are good for you.

Salt, sugar and plant-based saturated oils may be harmful to your health if taken in excess — yet they are all “natural” ingredients. While it is important to consider purchasing certain products organically, the rule does not apply to all products. If purchasing foods free of food dyes, hormones, artificial flavoring or additives is important to you, stick with organic versions.

For produce, the environmental working group has a great pocket guide that you can print and keep in your wallet when you go to the grocery store. This guide instructs the consumer on how to best choose organic foods and displays the top 12 produce options with the most pesticides. For more information regarding organic or natural food labeling, visit the USDA.

Be An Expert On How To Spot A Whole Grain Product

Many consumers are interested in purchasing bread, pasta, and rice that are 100 percent whole grain. Whole grain consumption has been linked to reductions in colon cancer, heart disease and stroke.

If a bread or pasta says it is “100 percent” whole wheat or whole grain, then you can be certain that only whole grains are used in the ingredients. If the label says “made with whole grains” or does not use the word “whole” in front of the grain such as “wheat bread,” be wary. White breads and pastas strip the grain of its most important nutrients. You’ll want to avoid refined grains in these products. Fiber is often time a great number to look at if you’re thoroughly confused. Breads and pastas that have one or less grams of fiber per serving are most likely not 100 percent whole grain.

But be careful here too, some manufacturers add fiber to the ingredients to boost fiber content in white breads or pastas. If you’re shopping for rice, stick to brown or wild rice.

Take Control Away From The Manufacturer
 
Whenever possible, create your own healthy combinations for the best health benefits. I often tell my clients to add ingredients such as fresh or frozen berries, walnuts or flax seed to low-fat plain yogurt instead of relying on the manufacturer to add these things in for you. Most likely, the fruit yogurt you buy in the store will be loaded with additives you simply don’t need.

Have you looked at the food labels in your pantry lately? If so, could you easily buy some of the ingredients you see at the grocery store? If the answer is no, you may not want to eat it.

Healthy Homemade Greek Yogurt (fat-free)

Greek yogurt is a great snack but as you all know, it can get expensive!  Here are great step by step instructions for making your own greek yogurt from Salad In a Jar!

homemade yogurt with fruit tall

Benefits to eating more yogurt:
It’s satisfying. (Similar to milk–see Got Milk?)
It has luxuriously creamy texture.
It’s mild.
It’s full of calcium and protein (See more extensive discussion about protein here.)
It’s good for the digestive system.
It lends itself to many flavor variations.
It’s inexpensive when you make it yourself.
I honestly can’t think of a better snack. It’s that good!

I use non-fat milk to keep the calories low. Adding 1/4-1/3 cup nonfat dried milk solids increases the calcium content and richness without extra fat. Milk higher in fat will also work if you prefer.

My directions are perfect for making large batches as opposed to the individual servings produced by an electric yogurt maker. However, the yogurt maker is easy and foolproof if your needs are small.

Directions:
First: Fill Pyrex batter bowl (my preference) or 2-quart glass container with 2 quarts of milk. Use skim for fat-free.) Microwave till bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Temperature should reach 175-180 degrees after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes 17 minutes on HIGH). Do not skip this step. It is important to unravel the proteins so they will behave during the incubation process.

pouringmilk

Stir milk once or twice during the heating process to prevent skin from forming. If a skin does form, remove it.

Second: Allow milk to cool until temperature drops to between 110 and 120 degrees. This can take 30-45 minutes. Use a cooking thermometer to check. I like this one with an alarm that goes off when mixture reaches a preset temperature. If you are in a hurry, fill sink or large bowl with ice and set the container of milk in it.

thermometerinyogurt

Third: Whisk in 1/4 to 1/2 cup nonfat dried milk and 1-2 teaspoons yogurt as a starter from your favorite brand of plain yogurt (but it must contain live cultures and should not have any additives). You may use yogurt from a previous batch of your own homemade yogurt. I started out with nonfat Fage Greek yogurt. If you buy it, take note of the price and then pat yourself on the back for all the money you saved by making your own.

Editor’s Note: I have now been using my own yogurt as a starter for over six months. It seems to get better and better despite what some people say about using it only three or four times or even just once. Since I make yogurt at least twice a week, it never has a chance to get old.

adding starter

Fourth: Cover milk and place in a conventional oven that has been preheated for only one minute. Wrap in towels. Turn the oven light on. In a gas oven, the pilot light may keep it warm enough. Other ways to keep the yogurt warm during incubation include an ice chest, heating pad, electric yogurt maker or an unusually warm spot in the house. If it is a hot summer day in Texas, just stick it on the porch! Let sit for 6-10 hours but it may need up to 11-14 hours. It’s difficult to make a hard and fast rule here since each environment is slightly different.

Editor’s Note: The more I hear from people who have tried this, the more I’m convinced of the importance of keeping a steady incubation temperature around 100 degrees. Many newer ovens can be set to 100-110 degrees which is perfect.

yogurtinoven

How can you tell when it’s finished? Good question and the hardest part of the entire process. You will learn by experience when it “looks right.” It should be set–as in slightly gelatinous, even though you have put no gelatin in it. There will most likely be a watery, slightly yellow liquid on top called whey. I haven’t figured out a good use for the whey but let me know if you think of one.

yogurt before straining1

At this point you could chill the yogurt and eat as is. It is your choice to pour off the whey or stir it back in. Straining makes the yogurt thicker and less tart resulting in Greek yogurt.

From regular yogurt to Greek yogurt:
Fifth: Very carefully pour yogurt into a bouillon strainer aka chinois. This is where I part company with other directions I’ve seen for Greek yogurt. Most suggest using several layers of cheesecloth to line a strainer or even a coffee filter (for a small amount). What a mess to clean up!

Although a bouillon strainer or chinois is pricey, it is well worth it. You will lose very few solids if yogurt has set up thick enough. If the solids flow through the strainer, you need to put it back in the oven for a few hours to thicken. (See editor’s note below and troubleshooting tips at the end of this post). Just to be clear, a bouillon strainer has a very, very fine mesh. The only place I know to purchase one is a restaurant supply or look online (see link above). A standard grocery store strainer is not fine enough.

Editor’s Note: Because I know the process so well at my house, failed yogurt at this point usually means I have problems with the starter. Either I have killed it with too high of temperature or it was too old. So I simply stir in more starter and reincubate.

Let yogurt sit in the strainer till the yogurt is reduced by approximately half. Time will vary according to the thickness of the yogurt out of the oven and your own preference regarding texture and sourness. Tip the strainer or stir very gently if whey has pooled on top while straining.

Empty whey from batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl. Use a good whisk to beat until smooth. (Tip: Rinse the strainer immediately. Do no let any residue from the yogurt dry on the mesh or it may be impossible to get clean. However, they clean up beautifully after a trip through the dishwasher.)

whisking Greek yogurt

At this point you have several options. Pour into glass jars as is. Mixture will be very thick when cold (and reportedly keeps longer when thicker). Or you can continue with one of the following:

* Add sugar, sweetener, honey, flavorings, or Torani Syrup–sugar-free or not. My personal favorite is a combination of almond and vanilla sugar-free syrup.

* Since I like my yogurt mellow (one reason why I strain the whey out of it) and not quite as thick as sour cream, I add some kind of milk back to it until it is the perfect consistency for my tastes. Start with 2-3 tablespoons and mix to suit yourself. Good choices would be skim milk, sugar-free vanilla flavored soy milk, sugar-free vanilla almond milk or splurge with heavy cream. I recently tried adding lite coconut milk and it was oh so creamy and velvety smooth on the tongue. I couldn’t believe it!

Suggestions for stir-ins before eating:
* homemade granola

* sugar-free jelly

* fresh fruit

* banana and a small crumbled cookie (reminiscent of banana pudding)

* instant espresso

homemade Greek yogurt square

Please don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. Check out the troubleshooting guide and try again. If you have time, reading through the comments may give you some additional hints.

Troubleshooting Failed Yogurt
* Did the milk cool below 120 degrees F but not below 105 F? Above 120 degrees F, the bacteria in the yogurt starter will be murdered.

*Did you heat the milk sufficiently to kill the bacteria in it and rearrange the proteins? It should come just short of a boil.

* Where did you incubate your yogurt? Is it too warm or not warm enough? In the past, I have forgotten to turn on the light in my oven. Didn’t work. Not warm enough. Temperature needs to stay around 100 degrees.

* Was your yogurt starter too old? Did it have active cultures? Don’t forget to save some yogurt from a previous batch so you won’t have to buy it again. Some people recommend you start over with commercial yogurt every 3-4 batches but I find it unnecessary if you use starter from your homemade yogurt not over a week old.

* Did it incubate long enough? Times will vary. 12-14 hours may be necessary. Watch for gelatinous texture.

*Was the yogurt mixture disturbed during incubation?

* Did you add too much starter to the warm milk? Only 1-2 teaspoons-not over a tablespoon– are needed. More is not better. The bacteria need room to grow. (Sorry about that last sentence. I know it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it’s true. That’s why yogurt is so good for the digestive system.)

* Are you using a strainer with a very, very fine mesh? If you don’t have one, you must use several layers of cheesecloth to line your strainer instead.

* When pouring the yogurt into the strainer, did you pour it too rapidly or let it fall a long way to the strainer? This can cause you to lose too many solids through the strainer.

* Do you feel little bits of “skin” in the yogurt? You may have missed some attached to the side of the bowl as the milk was cooling. Stirring at least 2-3 times during the heating process will help prevent a skin from forming.

How Soft Drinks Impact Your Health

Harmful Soda
Via: Term Life Insurance

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