Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turning Yucky into Yummy

As much as I've been enjoying my vegan transition, there's been one area that's been a little sticky...and that is finding a yogurt substitute. This is something that, in theory, should be super easy to do. I used to eat dairy yogurt at home only, because the big brands (with some exceptions) usually have gelatin in them, a definite vegetarian no-no. Yogurt used to be a way for me to enjoy something sweet and got a little kick of calcium and protein, too. So on my to-do list, I added finding a yogurt substitute.

Let's just say I'm not there yet.

I used to be freakishly afraid of soy yogurt. When I finally got up the nerve to use soy yogurt in my baked goods, my fear diminished. Soy yogurt has truly proven to be a great substitute for sour cream or eggs in a recipe, and I'm happy to include it all the time. But each time I cracked open the container and thought about eating it straight, by itself, I'd turn up my nose and decide against it.

Finally, after all of my soy yogurt baking exploits had been successful, I decided that I was being truly unfair. If soy yogurt could be substituted in baked goods with no change in the overall taste or texture of most of my recipes, then I should like this stuff by itself. Or so you think. One spoonful of the vanilla yogurt later, and I thought this should be headed for the trash.

As you all know, though, I hate wasting food, and I definitely did not want to throw away a perfectly *good* (good as in not expired, not tasty...) container of soy yogurt. I remembered a recipe in Jillian Michaels's book Master Your Metabolism for a dairy smoothie, so I used that recipe for inspiration and threw some ingredients in a blender, put some of it in a travel mug for work, and then froze the rest. The smoothie was good and filling.

What I wasn't expecting was how delicious the frozen concoction would be. I brought that to work the next day, intending to stick it in my fridge in my office so it would thaw and I could have an afternoon smoothie. Wouldn't you know, by 3:30 I was starving and needed protein, and that sucker was just as frozen as it had been at 8 AM. So I grabbed a spoon from the lunchroom and started eating. And it was fabulous! It tasted just like a fruit sorbet, and it provided snacks for me for the next several days.

Perhaps I shouldn't yet give up on my yogurt substitution quest; when my Whole Foods starts to carry rice milk yogurt, maybe I should give that a try. I tried a lime flavored soy yogurt and didn't like that either, but perhaps I will like another flavor. I do know one thing, though; if I eat soy yogurt for the rest of my days as a smoothie or a dessert, I'll be just fine.

Fruit Smoothie or Fruit "Sorbet"
Yields: Depends on amount of fruit you add...probably roughly 4 cups of the mixture

1 c. blueberries
2 c. frozen strawberries
1 banana
6 ounces soy vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp. agave nectar (honey would work too, but many vegans do not eat honey)

1) In a blender, combine all ingredients.
2) Either pour in glasses and drink as smoothie, or freeze in a container for at least 6-8 hours to make the frozen dessert.

**Please note that any combination of fruit would probably work; this is just what I used. It is important, though, to make sure that at least some of your fruit is frozen, otherwise you won't get a smoothie. If you don't have frozen fruit, just add ice, but be aware that could water down your smoothie if it gets too warm.

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