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Why This Recipe Works

Following a paleo diet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the creamy texture and tangy taste of yogurt. Although there are a number of nondairy and soy-free alternative yogurts sold in stores, many of them contain additives, preservatives, and various gums. Our challenge was to create a paleo-friendly recipe that would have all the appeal and versatility of traditional yogurt. We first needed to determine the best milk for the job. To ensure that our yogurt was paleo-friendly, we knew we wanted to use one of our homemade nut milks (see the recipes at left). Yogurts made with coconut milk turned out consistently grainy; the smooth-textured almond milk yogurts were the clear preference. To promote the fermentation required in making yogurt, we elected to use probiotic capsules, since typical yogurt starters are often sourced from dairy products. But the probiotics alone weren’t thickening the yogurt: Since almond milk contains less protein than dairy milk, we couldn’t achieve the thick, creamy consistency we were after without introducing an additional thickening agent. We tested gelatin, tapioca, and agar-agar, a thickener made from algae. Tasters preferred the yogurt made with agar-agar for its smooth and creamy consistency. You can find agar-agar and probiotic capsules at your local natural foods store. The flavor of the yogurt may vary depending on the brand of probiotic used; we developed this recipe using Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion probiotic capsules.

Ingredients

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1 ¾ teaspoons agar-agar powder
¼ cup water
3 cups Paleo Almond Milk (see related content)
1 each 50-billion probiotic capsule

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Instructions

Makes about 3 cups

Do not substitute agar-agar flakes for the agar-agar powder. You can substitute coconut milk for the almond milk; however, the yogurt will have a slightly grainy consistency.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Sprinkle agar-agar over water in small bowl and let sit until softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Heat milk in large saucepan over medium-low heat until just simmering. Add softened agar-agar and cook, whisking constantly, until fully dissolved. Transfer mixture to bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally, until mixture registers 110 degrees, about 20 minutes.

3. Twist open probiotic capsule and whisk contents into cooled milk mixture; discard capsule’s casing. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, place in oven, and turn on oven light. Let yogurt sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. (Yogurt will not thicken while sitting.)

4. Refrigerate yogurt until completely chilled and set, about 4 hours. Process yogurt in blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. (Yogurt can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)