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Dairy Free Cheese, Yogurt, Kefir and Ice Cream!

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Dairy Free Cheese, Yogurt, Kefir and Ice Cream!

Many of our patients ask for raw vegan alternatives to some of the most common dairy products that they used to eat and do not consume anymore. There are four main loved ones: cheese, yogurt, kefir, and of course… ICE CREAM!

So, we decided to make a recipe series dedicated to these products and some extras! In these recipes, coconuts and almonds are the key ingredients. Other nuts could work as well however, we will highlight the benefits of using these foods: coconuts and almonds.

But before we jump to the recipes, let’s come back to an important question we asked in our “Nut Milks” post: isn’t milk good for me? Or why should I avoid dairy?

Here are some of the reasons you should avoid animal milk and dairy products:

  • They are laden with antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Due to the high demand for production of farmed animals, the only way to keep them “safe” is by overloading them with medication.
  • Dairy contributes to an increase in the levels of inflammation in the body and eventually to chronic inflammation, which can then lead to other more serious chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer.
  • Dairy has been linked to inflammation, cancer, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, allergies, digestive issues, and more.
  • It may also contribute to the development of several skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.
  • Dairy has been associated with a higher risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
  • Dairy, and especially milk, are highly allergenic, which shows up as lactose intolerance and allergies to dairy products that have become more common.

That said, let’s jump to our non-dairy alternatives for some of the food you may miss on a raw vegan diet!

We will start with three fermented foods: coconut yogurt, coconut kefir, and almond cheese, and finish with our almond ice cream.

Raw Fermented Coconut Yogurt (4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups young Thai coconut meat (about 6 coconuts)
  • 1/2 tsp probiotic powder
  • 1 cup coconut water

Directions:

  1. Place the coconut and coconut water in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth; add additional coconut water if needed.
  2. Add in the probiotic powder and blend briefly just to mix.
  3. Place the coconut cream in a jar with a fermenting lid or a clean cloth placed on top and allow to ferment at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Check out local Asian markets to buy full cases of coconuts at half the cost of health food stores. 

Coconut Kefir (yields 1½ quarts)

    1. Strain coconut water into a saucepan. Ideally, microflora prefer that the liquid be 92 degrees Fahrenheit (31 or 32 degrees C), so be careful not to overheat.
    2. Use an inexpensive thermometer if desired to check the temperature.
    3. Add probiotic powder to the heated coconut water.
    4. The room temperature for fermenting should be around 70 F to 75 F. If your room is colder, you may want to wrap the glass container in a kitchen towel.

      Ingredients:

      • 3 to 4 coconuts, young Thai (need 1½ quarts of liquid)
      • ½ tsp probiotic powder (2 probiotic capsules)

      Directions:

      If the water is pink, do not use it.

    Kefir is ready in 36 hours (may vary with temperature). Once fermented, coconut water will become cloudy and lighter in color. After fermentation is complete, you will want to refrigerate your kefir to extend shelf life. It should maintain its flavor for about 3 weeks.

    Almond Cheese (2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cup almonds, soaked and skin peeled
  • 2 cups water and 2 open capsules of probiotic

Directions:

  1. Place the almonds and water in a high-speed blender and process until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary to form a smooth, creamy texture. 
  2. Add the probiotic to the blender and blend lightly.
  3. Pour into a nut bag or cheesecloth-lined strainer and allow to strain and ferment for 12 to 24 hours, until the desired tartness is achieved.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, almond cheese will last for up to two weeks. Season or sweeten as desired before using.

THESE ARE ALSO FERMENTED FOODS!

Fermented foods are a great source of good bacteria for your gut, promoting a diverse and healthy microbiota! These are what we call natural probiotics, foods rich in healthy bacteria.

Probiotics have been associated with many health benefits, including:

  • Help in the prevention and treatment of GI tract issues (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal disorders, elimination of Helicobacter, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrheas).
  • Modulation of immune function, namely stimulating the secretion of IgA and regulatory T cells.
  • Reduce inflammation and increase anti-oxidative activity.
  • Increase anti-bacterial activity, because beneficial bacteria help control and destroy harmful bacteria.
  • Positive effect on allergic diseases (e.g., atopic dermatitis).
  • Improve digestive and heart health.
  • Important for nutrient synthesis and to improve nutrient bioavailability and absorption.
  • A healthy microbiome is essential to aid in the synthesis of key neurotransmitters.
  • Key role in vitamin B12, butyrate and vitamin K2 production.
  • Effective in the treatment of health conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Beneficial effects on aging, fatigue, autism, and osteoporosis.

For more information on Probiotics, visit our blog post on “What Are Probiotics?” 

Non-Fermented Ice Cream Alternative

Almond Ice Cream (3 cups)

  • 1 cup almonds soaked, skins peeled
  • 1 cup young Thai coconut meat
  • 1 ¼ cups coconut water
  • 1 vanilla bean pod seeds
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until creamy and smooth.
  2. Put into frozen ice cream maker bowl.
  3. Turn it on for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy all of these delicious and healthy “diary alternative” foods!!! 😊

Health Benefits of Coconut and Almonds

  • Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Coconuts are also botanically fruits, and a very versatile food. They are rich in saturated fats, and nutrients like vitamins and minerals, and a great source of energy. The kernel is the “coconut meat.”

Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Coconuts1,2,3

  • Coconuts are a great source of energy (354 calories per 100 grams of kernel), mostly from protein and fat.
  • Most of the fat present in the coconut kernel, around 89%, is saturated fat. These fats are constituted largely by medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be absorbed intact in the small intestine, and are an excellent source of energy.
  • MCTs have many health benefits, including anticarcinogenic, antiviral, and antifungal effects10.
  • The most relevant saturated fatty acid is lauric acid (1:12 carbon fatty acid). Lauric acid helps increase HDL cholesterol levels in the blood, and reduce LDL, contributing to healthy lipid profiles.
  • Good source of B vitamins such as thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), and folate (B-9), required from food and essential for macronutrient metabolism.
  • Excellent source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Coconut meat is a good source of potassium (356 mg per 100 grams of fresh meat; 7.5% RDA).
  • Rich source of fiber (9 grams per 100 grams of fresh meat; 24% RDA). Most of this fiber is insoluble fiber, which means not digestible by the body, but that helps with bowel health.
  • Almonds

The kernels of the almond tree, Prunus dulcis, belonging to the Rosaceae family, genus Prunus.

Almonds are rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, and very important, almonds are delicious! A truly crunchy and nutty health treat!

Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Almonds4,5

  • Display a very balanced nutrient profile, with essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and protein.
  • Good sources of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) like oleic and palmitoleic acids that contribute to healthy blood lipid profiles, by increasing HDL and lowering LDL levels.
  • Great source of vitamin E (about 25 mg per 100 grams of almonds). Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant. It protects from free-radical damage and contributes to cell-membrane restoration.
  • Good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), and folate (B-9). B vitamins work in conjunction as co-factors for enzymes in cellular metabolism.
  • Very good source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
  • Naturally lactose-free and a good alternative in recipes that call for dairy products, such as milk or yogurt.

 

REFERENCES

  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Nuts, coconut meat, raw. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170169/nutrients, accessed Nov 3, 2023.
  2. Nutrition and You. Coconut Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/coconut.html, accessed Nov 3, 2023.
  3. Narayanan A, Baskaran SA, Amalaradjou MA, Venkitanarayanan K. Anticarcinogenic properties of medium chain fatty acids on human colorectal, skin and breast cancer cells in vitro. Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Mar 5;16(3):5014-27. doi: 10.3390/ijms16035014. PMID: 25749477; PMCID: PMC4394462.
  4. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Nuts, almonds. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170567/nutrients, accessed Nov 3, 2023.
  5. Nutrition and You. Almonds Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/almonds.html, accessed Nov 3, 2023.

 

 

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Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica.  Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.

Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection.  She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.

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