To keep a long story short, during my pregnancy with him my family experienced an abundance of financial woes, leading us to seek some assistance. Enter the WIC program. I'm sure most of you are familiar with WIC. It's a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children up to age 5 who are in need of assistance. They base food packages on nutritional needs of program participants. It really is an enormous relief to us personally, especially since both of my children are allergic to dairy. The program helps to reduce the cost of our soymilk and other items that offset the cost of other, more expensive dairy-free items that we need to buy. The main thing that took getting used to was the abundance of similar individual ingredients allowed with each check (64 oz of beans at a time, 2 dozen eggs, etc.). It's wonderful, but for someone like myself who is NOT a cook, it has taken a lot of getting used to.
I think I'm actually quite grateful, though, because it has inspired me to get creative in order to make a variety of meals for my family with few ingredients. That along with some cooking lessons from my wonderfully patient husband has resulted in a few winning recipes. I figured I would start sharing those recipes for others who might benefit from the inspiration. My very first experiment involved using up some of the soymilk we received. Our local store did not have any shelf stable soymilk in stock, and all of the half gallons available had close upcoming expiry dates, so I knew I needed to use them quickly until the store restocked. Thus experimentation with soy yogurt began, resulting in this winning recipe. Enjoy!
This recipe involves a crock pot. I used a 6 qt size. It's best to start this recipe in the evening, so that it is completed by the following morning. If I know I will be getting up at 8am, I will start mine around 5pm.
1/2 gallon soymilk
1 cup soy yogurt
(I used Silk brand for both)
Place the 1/2 gallon of soymilk in the crock pot and heat on low for 2 1/2 hours.
Turn crock pot off and let cool on counter for 2-3 hours until warm but not hot.
Separate 1 cup of the soymilk and place into a separate container.
Mix the soy yogurt into the 1 cup of soymilk until well blended, and then pour mixture back into crock pot and mix. (I used an immersion blender.)
Cover the crock pot and wrap in a large towel.
Place covered crock pot into the oven so it stays warm, and let sit over night or 10-12 hours.
In the morning, remove crock pot from oven. You should have yogurt!
Separate into containers and refrigerate. Set aside 1 cup of yogurt to use as a starter in future batches.
(Soy by nature will not turn out as tart as regular yogurt, but will get more tart the more often you use your own starter from a continuous batch.)
The soy will be slightly runnier than dairy yogurt. It still tastes great, but I am not a fan of the runnier texture. I prefer a thicker, Greek-style yogurt, so I strain mine to make it more appealing. I use a coffee filter over a tupperware bowl and let the yogurt strain, covered, about 4-5 hours in the fridge.
You can serve with any variety of toppings or mixes as you can regular yogurt. My favorite add in is peanut butter granola. I also separate a few servings and mix with fruit into bags, then freeze them for quick and easy smoothies.
Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe and what you think!
*It appears that this recipe is sensitive to cold (as I imagine any yogurt recipe will be). If your yogurt temperature does not stay warm enough overnight (about 100-110 degrees), it will not set up. This is mostly an issue in winter time, so you may either need to skip this altogether on a cold night (anything below 10 degrees F), or actually turn your oven on to a low temperature and check on your yogurt a few times throughout the night in order to maintain temperature. I made this all through the winter with only one botched batch, so it's nothing too bad.