Tag Archives: Breakfast

Menu Plan Monday 2/23/15

Menu Plan

We’re in “eat what we’ve got” mode around here in an effort to use up the things we have stored in the freezer and the pantry! Consequently, this Menu Plan Monday may consist of some odd combinations! I expect us to stay in this mode for another week or so, so it’s likely to get even more bizarre. Oh well, I’ll be glad to be able to open the freezer without having things tumble out at me. Opening the freezer shouldn’t be hazardous. Plus, I hate when I discover things in the pantry that have expired before we’ve gotten to them. This is our effort to keep that from happening!

With no further adieu, here’s the menu plan for feeding people this week:


BreakfastGluten Free Pumpkin MuffinsGluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Lunch: Kids: Banana Dog & PB&J, Adults: Leftovers from Sunday

DinnerMahi Mahi, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach Salad

(We’re also responsible for the snack at Girl Scouts this day, and my daughter has requested her favorite treat – Blueberry Muffins!)


Breakfast: Leftover Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Lunch: Salmon Patties

Dinner: Potato Soup

Wednesday (CC Community Day)

Breakfast: Cereal and Smoothies

Lunch: PB&J (for DS), Hummus and Carrot Chips (for DD), Quinoa and Brown rice with Garlic (for Me! These have been my favorite grab and go lunch discovery this year! Heat them in the pouch. Then, I like to dump them in aEasy lunch ideas! container to which I’ve already added some feta and black olives. Delicious! If there are leftovers, I just pop the lid on and bring it home for lunch here the next day.I get mine at Costco for a better price than at Amazon, but thought you might want to see a picture. I also found them once at Aldi!)

Dinner: Beans and Gluten Free Cornbread


Breakfast: Gluten Free Pancakes

Lunch: Leftover Potato Soup or Beans and Cornbread

Dinner: Tenderloin (from the freezer), Butternut Squash, Green Beans


Breakfast: Leftover Gluten Free Pancakes

Lunch: Boiled eggs, Salad

Dinner: Gluten Free Pizza


Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal

Lunch: Whatever you can find.

Dinner: Black Bean Soup


Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal

Lunch: Fruit and/or Veggies Tray for our Home Church group, Beef Stew

Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner


Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Popped Amaranth and Bananas, Almonds and Chocolate Chips, Smoothies, Popcorn, Apples/PB/Granola Sandwiches

Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGluten Free Pretzels


If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download one by visiting the Printables page.

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Menu Plan Monday 1/13/2014

Menu Plan

It’s January. Where did December go? It just seemed to disappear in a whirling, twirling craze of wrapping paper, lights, Christmas preparations and celebrations, late nights, little sleep, LOTS of eating out, and then . . . finally . . . we all got sick.

That began on Christmas day when my little guy woke up at about 3 in the morning (around 45 minutes after my husband and I had finally collapsed into bed) with croup and a scary round of stridor. For about an hour we thought an ambulance wasn’t necessary but an emergency room visit might be inevitable. Finally, the steamy bathroom alternating with the COLD outside air eased up his airway enough that we felt okay about putting him back to bed as long as he slept with us so we could listen for him. The next morning, his breathing was still audible, so I called our pediatrician (BLESS sweet doctors who have to take calls on Christmas morning!). She called him in a prescription, which my husband went and picked up later, spending over two hours at the only pharmacy open on our side of town on Christmas day.

The pharmacy is where we think my husband probably picked up the flu . . . which he started coming down with the day after Christmas. He felt yuckier and yuckier for 5 days before he began to rebound. In the meantime, my daughter and I started fighting it too, although thankfully, we never got as sick as he did.

If you want a classic example of how lack of sleep and poor eating results in poor health – we were definitely it during the month of December. We got less sleep than EVER and ate out more than we probably have in a year. We are VERY, VERY rarely truly sick. Prior to this, I can’t even remember the last time we were all sick at the same time, or even had some illness that we passed amongst us.

And so, it is DEFINITELY time to make a menu plan! Time to eat better, get some exercise, and regularly get some decent sleep!

So, here’s the menu plan for feeding people this week:

Gluten Free Pancakes, Breakfast Table


Eggs, Gluten Free Pancakes, Oranges

Salads and Smoothies

Shepherd’s Pie from yesterday’s roast beef


Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Hummus, Chips, Apples

Baked Salmon, Broccoli

Gluten Free Pumpkin MuffinsWednesday

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Almond Butter & Honey Sandwiches on Gluten Free Bread

Pumpkin Soup


Gluten Free Banana Bread

Leftover Pumpkin Soup or Hummus

Pork Roast, Roast Carrots


Gluten Free Banana Bread

Potato Soup

Crockpot Pizza Pasta, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies



Gluten Free Applesauce Bread


Egg Drop Soup and Tuna Fried Rice


Gluten Free Applesauce Bread

Slow Roasted Chicken, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes

Breakfast for Dinner


Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Popped Amaranth and Bananas, Almonds and Chocolate Chips, Smoothies, Popcorn, Apples/PB/Granola Sandwiches

Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGluten Free Pretzels


If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download one by visiting the Printables page.

This post linked to:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Mmmmm . . . Fall and pumpkin . . . they just go hand in hand. Truthfully, I like pumpkin just about anytime, which is why I keep a lot in my freezer year-round. I like to decorate with pumpkins that roast well and look good – Fairy Tale and Cinderella Pumpkins have been my favorites over the years. Using my decor for food later makes me feel SO much better about spending money in the fall on some pumpkins to sit around the house. And, as long as you don’t make them into Jack-o-lanterns, they usually last the full season and leave you plenty of time to roast them and get them in the freezer. This year, I’m trying a cushaw squash, as recommended by the farmer at the market this year. It’s a totally a different look, but he says they’re delicious! We shall see!

Gluten Free Pumpkin MuffinsThis morning, we tried out a new recipe. We’re always trying out new recipes. My husband says I have a very difficult time leaving well enough alone. True. Why settle for “well enough” when you can shoot for “AMAZING!”???? I try something new and then tweak it and tweak it and tweak it. I prefer to think of recipes as a “suggestion.”

So, I pass along to you my “suggestion” for Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins.  This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found at Grain Meal Wagon. Their version is dairy and egg free, so if you’d like to see their version, head on over there. My version is below.

You’ll see these are made with oat flour. The lovely thing about oat flour is that anyone with a blender or food processor can make it and you can make it in small batches, so you have just enough for a single recipe. Just blend or process oats (rolled or quick) until you have a texture you like (I like mine to still have some small identifiable oat crumbs in it, so it’s not all super fine.)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly-ground oat flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups sucanat
Wet Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP Molasses
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup milk (any kind)
Optional Ingredients


1. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

2. Add wet ingredients. Mix well.

3. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.

4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups. (I use silicone ones. I LOVE them!)

5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.


Empty Coffee CupI thought the pumpkin seeds (pepitas) really took these from very good to fabulous, but my children preferred to eat their muffins naked. Silly kiddos. These would also be delicious with some mini chocolate chips, if you wanted a sweeter treat. They were fantastic with a cup of coffee this morning! And, can I just show you my coffee cup? For Christmas this past year, I gave my daughter a gift certificate for a “girls’ day.” She and I painted pottery, had lunch together, and went and got manicures and pedicures. So fun! I painted this mug myself and it’s my favorite to drink from in the morning.  It just brightens up the day. Plus, it really DOES just beg to be filled. A little tip, though: if you’re right-handed and you plan to write yourself a cute note inside your coffee cup, make sure you’re holding the cup correctly.  Otherwise, you’ll be reading your message upside down, and early morning pre-coffee is just simply not the time to be reading upside down.


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Creative Geekery

YUMMY and Simple Gluten Free Pancakes!

Gluten Free Pancakes

We eat pancakes pretty often.  Consequently, after my husband was diagnosed with Celiac earlier this year, we spent several months on the hunt for a good gluten free pancake recipe. We ate through many a dud before finding this recipe and making some minor changes to make it really work for us.  This recipe has a good “mouth feel” and isn’t too dry.  The flavor is really nice. This is a gluten free pancake tht I will happily serve to guests who aren’t accustomed to eating gluten free because it really doesn’t taste all that different from the pancakes we used to eat.


Dry Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice flour or sorguhm flour
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 T honey
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk (or a mixture of yogurt and milk or this is a great place to use the whey leftover from making yogurt) … whatever it takes to get the consistency you want.

Gluten Free PancakesDirections
  1. Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix until lumps are gone.
  2. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat.
  3. Add oil to griddle (I use coconut oil).
  4. Spoon batter onto griddle (I like to use a 1/4 C measuring cup). You may need to spread the batter out with the back up a spoon or the measuring cup.
  5. Cook until surface of pancakes begin to bubble and to look a little drier.
  6. Flip carefully and cook on other side for about 2 more minutes.
  7. If you like, keep pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven. You may want to cover them with tinfoil to retain their moisture if you won’t be serving them right away.

Serve with real Maple Syrup. These are also yummy with about 1/2 C of chocolate chips or blueberries.

Makes 10-12 pancakes.

Gluten Free Pancakes, Breakfast Table


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Menu Plan 10/14/2013

Gluten Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins, muffins everywhere! Obviously, we enjoy a good muffin around here. Pictured above are the Gluten Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins. I’ll share the recipe soon.  It’s just not QUITE perfected. It’s got an endorsement from 50% of the family, but 2 of us are holding out for a little more of a “Wow!” factor.  Hopefully, we’ll get there this week.  We’re also in the mood for the fall flavors of pumpkin, apples, sweet potatoes, and soup around here, but because it’s actually still pretty warm, we’re just not ready to give up the watermelon that’s still showing up at the Farmer’s Market! Plus, when you’ve got a kiddo that really only likes about two raw fresh fruits (apples and watermelon) you tend to serve them year-round regardless of whether they’re in season! Then, you shove as many others as you possibly can into a smoothie. You throw in spinach, chia and the like, thank your lucky stars that he’ll eat nearly anything in that form, and you wait for his tastebuds to get a little more flexible! Here’s the gameplan for feeding people this week:


Gluten Free Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins
Pasta, Salad, and Melon
Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Acorn Squash


Leftover GF Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins
Roast Beef Wraps, Apples and Grapes
Chicken Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash (Edit: Recipe reviewed HERE)


Peaches and Cream Oatmeal or Cold Cereal
Hummus, Gluten Free Pita Bread, Carrots, Apples and Grapes
Coconut Shrimp Soup with Quinoa Pasta


Oat Flour Pumpkin Muffins
Roast Beef and Cheese Rolls, Sweet Potatoes, Apples & Bananas
Oven Baked Salmon and Baked Zucchini


Leftover Oat Flour Pumpkin Muffins
Hummus, Gluten Free Pita, Carrots, Melon and Grapes
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Chicken, Green Beans


Bacon, Eggs, and GF Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Salmon Patties, Carrots, and Melon
Smoothies and Popcorn


Leftover GF Carrot and Zucchini Muffins
Lunch out
Breakfast for Dinner

Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Smoothies, Granola, Popcorn, Cinnamon Popped Amaranth (with bananas), Apples/Peanut Butter/Granola Sandwiches
Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGranola BarsGluten Free Pretzels
If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download this one by clicking on the image below. It’s in Word, so you can edit to your heart’s content.

This Week's Menu


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Magical (Maybe) Healthy (Definitely) Chocolate Chip Oatmeal


Once upon a time, there was a sweet little girl who loved oatmeal.  The only decent tasting oatmeal her mother knew how to cook came in a box with individual packets inside. Add water or milk and microwave. Easy cheesy. The little girl LOVED oatmeal.  She would happily eat it for breakfast every.single.day.

At first, her mother patted herself on the back, because her daughter loved oatmeal. Oatmeal just sounds so . . . healthy.  But, over time, the little girl’s mother began to be concerned about the amount of sugar in the little individual packages. And then there was the fact that the little girl would eat it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  AND, that as the little girl grew, it was not uncommon for her to want TWO or MORE packages of the oatmeal that seemed to contain LOTS of sugar, a little bit of oats, possibly a tiny bit of chopped up dried fruit, and a good bit of artificial something-or-other.

(It actually wasn’t until MUCH later that the mother discovered that the “Strawberries” in the packets weren’t even strawberries; the “Peaches” weren’t peaches. That there were NO strawberries or peaches at all.  Thankfully, by then, the mother had moved on.)

So, the mother started exploring other healthier options.

Like this one:

And this one:Product Details

Sadly, while the mother did feel better about these alternatives, the little girl did NOT like them NEARLY as much as the packets from the box with the man with the hat on them. Come to find out, it can be a little difficult to transition from eating LOTS of sugar and fake flavors to less sugar and natural flavors. Particularly when you are 3 or 4 years-old and rather determined to have things go your way.

Then . . . MIRACLE of MIRACLES, a kind family member invited the little girl for a sleepover with her cousins (second cousins, to be precise). The little girl had a wonderful time, and after her mother (and she) survived the world’s WORST TEMPER TANTRUM EVER over having to leave the magical sleepover, AND the nap that was REQUIRED once they arrived home, the mother went to wake the little girl up. The mother told the little girl how glad she was that she had enjoyed her time there.  And the first words out of the little girl’s mouth?

“Oooh, mommy!  They had the BEST oatmeal!”

(Seriously? Her first slumber party and this is what stuck in her mind?)

So, OF COURSE, the mommy was contractually obligated to get in touch and get the recipe   . . . forever after referred to around their home as “Lizy’s Special Oatmeal” in honor of one of the cousins.  :-)

World's best oatmeal recipe. Kid's favorite oatmeal recipe! Healthy oatmeal recipe!

It’s been tweaked and tweaked and re-tweaked over the years, but HERE, ladies and gentlemen is the miracle oatmeal that changed our oatmeal habits around our home forever and allowed us to transition peacefully to a packet-free, oatmeal-filled (I kid you not, we’re eating through a 50 pound bag at the moment at a steady pace) existence.  And, you’ll be glad to know (because I’m sure you care) that we eat other flavors besides this one, as well. But this . . . with no further adieu . .  is the magical stuff that started it all:


Magical (Maybe) Healthy (Definitely) Chocolate Chip Oatmeal
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
Delicious, healthy and filling oatmeal!
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 1Tbsp raw almond butter
  • ½ Tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (we like it pretty cinnamon-y. You can use ¼ tsp if you do not.)
  • ½ tsp chia
  • 1 TBSP raw honey
  • A few (I usually shoot for about 12) regular sized chocolate chips
  1. Heat all ingredients (except honey and chocolate chips) on medium-low heat until oats are cooked as you prefer (about 5-7 minutes). Stir well to break up and incorporate almond butter.
  2. Remove from heat and add:
  3. Tbsp raw honey (you can add stevia if you prefer it sweeter but don’t want to add more sugars)
  4. A few chocolate chips (around here, we usually “hide” a few in the bottom of the bowl It motivates my son to do more than just eat them off the top.)
  5. A sprinkle of ground bee pollen and some cacao nibs, if you’re really the adventurous sort.

I wish I could promise that it would be magical for everyone, but I can DEFINITELY tell you that it was magical for us! Thanks Lizy!

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Menu Plan 10/7/2013


Time to start easing into the Fall food! Pumpkins and soups, coming up!  It must be Fall, because around here, a lot of leaves got swept up and moved to the chickens’ area this weekend! The chickens are very happy to have some new playthings, but I think the kiddos are going to be vying for their own leaf pile to jump in on the next leaf-sweeping go-round!  In the meantime, here’s the general game plan for feeding everyone this week:


Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal
Black Bean Soup, Chips, Apples and Melons
Roast Chicken, Roasted Asparagus and Carrots


GF Pancakes
Pasta and Salads, Grapes and Apples
Crock Pot Baked Potatoes with Butter and Roast Beef


Leftover GF Pancakes
Roast Beef Wraps and fruit
Dinner at church


Lizy’s Special Oatmeal (Chocolate Chip Oatmeal)
Hummus and chips, baby carrots, apples and grapes
Lamb kabobs with peppers and mushrooms


Cold Cereal
Roast Beef and Munster Wraps
GF BBQ Chicken Pizza, Salad and Fruit, GF Snickerdoodles


Bacon, Eggs, and GF Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Goat cheese or Hummus and GF Wheat Thins, Grapes and Apples
Smoothies and Popcorn (Movie Night!)

Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super Swim Bars (Granola Bars), Smoothies, Yogurt and Granola, Popcorn
Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGranola BarsGluten Free Pretzels
If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download this one by clicking on the image below. It’s in Word, so you can edit to your heart’s content.

This Week's Menu


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Granola Bars . . . or Super Swim Bars!

Granola Bar

I love a good granola bar. The kind that is a little chewy and still a little crunchy. I like them to be sweet, but not so sweet that they have that “burn” that sometimes comes from too much sugar, or especially too much honey.

This summer, we needed some snacks to take to swim meets (hence the alternate name, SUPER Swim Bars!, by which they will forever be known around our house), and I found a recipe for granola bars that I liked, but didn’t quite love.  Now, with a few tweaks, I’m really happy with it and it’s been a hit with the whole family.

Granola Bar Recipe


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter, or other seed/nut butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 Tbsp sucanat, rapadura, or light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax
Optional, make it even healthier, ingredients:
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp popped amaranth
Optional, make it even yummier, ingredients:
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried apricots, figs, or some combination of these

  1. If you’re concerned about it sticking, you can spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. I’ve actually never had a problem with mine sticking to a pyrex baking dish, even when I don’t spray it.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, peanut butter, coconut oil, rapadura or sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir and cook until mixture just begins to bubble, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  3. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except for chocolate chips, if you plan to add those).
  4. Pour liquid mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir gently until well combined.
  5. If you’re adding chocolate chips, stir mixture and allow to cool somewhat before adding the chocolate so it doesn’t melt instantly.
  6. Transfer to baking dish, cover with waxed or parchment paper and press firmly into dish.
  7. Allow to cool completely (will cool faster in the refrigerator). Cut into squares or bars.

These also freeze well. I individually wrap mine and usually keep them refrigerated or frozen until we take them out to take with us somewhere for a snack. I think they hold together just as well as the store bought granola bars I’ve been purchasing lately, and my family enjoys the flavor just as much or more so. And, hey, these can make you SUPER!

Menu Plan 9/23/2013


Well, it’s officially FALL! Tomorrow, I’ve got to get going and actually switch out some of the summer decor around here for fall things! I love fall, but the last two years, I’ve been so busy during September and October that it’s usually November before I’ve really thought about getting some fall decor going, and by then . . . it’s pretty much time for Christmas! I’m bound and determined to get it out and enjoy it this year!

It’s also probably time to switch to more fall-like food, but I’m just not quite there emotionally, yet.  SOON, though, especially if the weather continues to feel fall-ish.

In the meantime, here’s the general menu plan for the week!


Yogurt and granola
Sandwiches, baby carrots, apples and melon
Pot roast, roasted okra, mashed potatoes


Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Hummus and Chips, baby carrots, apples and grapes
Shepherd’s Pie


Leftover muffins (always double the recipe!)
Roast Beef Wraps and fruit
Dinner at church


Oatmeal or cereal
Hummus and chips, baby carrots, apples and grapes
Lamb kabobs with peppers and mushrooms


Sandwiches, apples and bananas


Snacks for the week

Homemade: Super swim bars, Smoothies, Yogurt and Granola, Popcorn
Storebought: Fruit PouchesFreeze-dried FruitGranola BarsGluten Free Pretzels
If you’re looking for a menu plan template, you are welcome to download this one by clicking on the image below. It’s in Word, so you can edit to your heart’s content.

This Week's Menu

Making Yogurt at Home

yogurt granola

If, you’re not making your own yogurt at home . . . well, that’s okay.  I make lots of stuff from scratch, but I’m not of the mindset that you’re really falling down on the job if you choose convenience over the extra time it takes to make stuff from scratch.  We’re all trying to find a balance that works for ourselves and for our families.  I think that balance is probably different places for different people.

I like to make stuff from scratch. Partly, because I just like to know that I can, and partly because I really do like knowing more about what’s in my food. It makes me better appreciate food in general, really. Anyway . . . if you’re at all interested, making yogurt from scratch is pretty easy.  Seriously.

I like yogurt. I don’t eat it every day, generally, but I like a little yogurt and granola for breakfast every now and then. And I really like adding yogurt to smoothies, since it’s full of good probiotics. So, I consume a reasonable amount of yogurt on my own. One of my children . . . the one who would mostly prefer to eat bread and sugar . . . the one who really likes about 3 fruits and only a handful of vegetables . . . LOVES yogurt.  LOVES it. Happily eats it most days for breakfast. Sometimes with granola; sometimes without.  He’ll also eat several fruits and vegetables that he doesn’t really care for (Strawberries, Oranges, Bananas, Peaches, Spinach, Kale, etc.) if it’s in the form of a smoothie, so I make a lot of smoothies around here and I add yogurt (or the whey from making yogurt, see below) to many of them! I love knowing that by eating yogurt he’s getting some good protein and some great probiotics.

What I didn’t love about the yogurt from the store was:

1) So many of them had more than just milk and live cultures in them, and

2) The cost!

Yogurt Maker

So, about 3 years ago, I started making my own.  I really didn’t want to invest in a separate yogurt maker, although I know some folks who own them and love them. I’m sure the advantage of a yogurt maker is that you know exactly how it’s going to work, every time.  If you’re not patient or willing to spend a few extra minutes monitoring the temperature of your milk, an automatic yogurt maker might be the way to go.

On the other hand, I think making homemade yogurt is REALLY easy! For the first year or so, I tried the “crock pot” method. That method works really well, but my crock pot tends to get too hot and scalds the top of the milk so that I end up with a film on my yogurt that I don’t care for (and makes cleaning my crock pot more difficult).  Also, I didn’t love all the time that went into that process, even though it mostly didn’t involve a lot of work: heat milk in the crockpot for a couple of hours, come back and turn the crockpot off and let it cool for a few hours, come back and add your culture, wrap the whole crock pot in towels and let it sit for 8-12 hours. I wasn’t very good at “coming back” at the right times (I have other things to do!) and I didn’t love dragging out my big towels every time I wanted to make yogurt.

So, I’ve adapted my methodology to what works best for me.  Maybe it will be helpful to you, too!

Homemade Yogurt

  1. Heat milk to 185 degrees*. You’ll need a thermometer to monitor this (mine looks like this one. Very inexpensive.). This kills the bad bacteria so it won’t compete with the good ones you’ll be adding. Essentially, this is pasteurization. This is where I use a double boiler, although you don’t have to have one (or like me, before I owned one, you can rig one up with a metal bowl or smaller pan and a larger pot.  Use what you’ve got, right?). It’s a good idea to take your “starter”** out of the fridge while you’re doing this, so that it will warm up to room temperature and not cool the mixture down so much when you’re adding it.
  2. Cool the milk to 110 degrees (just let it cool at your leisure, put it in a cold water bath, or just whisk it to release the heat . . . whatever you’ve got the time and inclination to do).
  3. Whisk in the starter**.
  4. Put the mixture in oven-safe containers (I just use my crock pot insert since it’s large the crock insulates really well, but you could use any glass jar or dish that you can cover).
  5. Allow the mixture to incubate.  My preferred method of doing this is to put it in the oven with the oven barely on.  To make sure that my oven was maintaining a temperature of about 100 degrees when I just barely clicked it on, I put my candy thermometer in a bowl of water on the rack beside my container or yogurt and just checked in periodically the first couple of times. Now that I’m confident, I just skip that step.
  6. Let it culture for 8-12 hours.

After that, you can eat it straight from the container, if you like.  I prefer to strain mine so that it’s thicker and more solid. I save the whey that I strain off and substitute it for buttermilk, milk, yogurt, or water in all sorts of other recipes and even in smoothies (waste not, want not!).  After I’ve strained it, I usually don’t love the texture of the yogurt as much (it’s beautifully smooth before I strain, but tossing it around straining it gives it a lumpy texture), so I usually stick mine in a blender and blend it up to make is smooth again.  If it’s too thick to blend, I just add back as much whey as is necessary to get the texture I prefer. We like ours sweetened with honey (and sometimes stevia) and vanilla, so sometimes I go ahead and add those at this point. Otherwise, I just sweeten or doctor it on an as needed basis (don’t forget to set some unsweetened aside to use as a starter for future batches!). I also use the unsweetened yogurt as a substitute for sour cream, so sometimes I set aside some for that, if I know I’m going to want some.

*We use raw milk, since that’s generally what we have around. There are many discussions out there about heating the milk to a lower temperature in order to keep the enzymes and naturally occurring good bacteria intact. At some point, I may reduce the temperature that I heat mine to. For now, though, I know that I tend to use milk that’s a week old and I feel better about heating it to a higher temperature to make sure that the bad stuff has been killed before I begin the process of making yogurt.

**For my starter, I use a single container of store bought plain greek yogurt. You don’t have to use greek yogurt, it’s just my preference. I do try to look at labels and get one with more than one active culture and as few other ingredients as possible.  Afterwards, I just set aside about a cup of my batch of yogurt to use as a starter again. Eventually, your starter will weaken since this is a less controlled environment that a big industrial process, but in the meantime, you’ll have turned a lot of milk into yogurt!  :-) And, when that happens, you can just grab a single container at the store and get started again.  Usually, we’re desperate enough to eat the starter before it ever gets weak enough to be a problem.  :-)

I’m no food pathogen expert, but our homemade yogurt has lasted in the fridge for 2+ weeks easily.  I do like to label it with the date just so that I know how long it’s been in there, but I’ve never had a batch that’s been in there long enough that I’ve though it was “off” and needed to be tossed out.