When I started college at Clemson, eating healthy was quite low on my list of priorities. I didn't change my major to nutrition until my junior year. In fact, I was accepted to college as a business major, then immediately switched to psychology after learning a business degree required calculus. Funny, because as a nutrition major, I ended up taking two calculus courses. Now that I'm starting my own business, a couple more semesters of that business degree certainly would have come in handy.
Many things inspired my interest in health and wellness, but in hindsight, one of my biggest inspirations was my dear friend and sorority sister, Barb. She went to the gym regularly, ate salads at the dining hall, never slept past 8 am (even on a Saturday!), and even managed to cook in our tiny dorm room! As hallmates and roomates for almost four years, some of her healthy habits rubbed off on me.
When she called me a few years ago to tell me she was going back to school to become a dietitian, I was so excited! I'm always thrilled when smart, enthusiastic and caring people enter the field, even more so when that smart, enthusiastic and caring person is one of my best friends.
I didn't realize it was possible, but her new career brought us even closer. Over the last three years while she worked towards her Masters of Public Health & Nutrition at UNC (did I mention she was smart?) we've chatted regularly about, well, dietitian stuff. Everything from preceptors and internships to artificial sweeteners and kale. Finally I have someone to call when I have a question about sprouting grains! Somehow, we turned into "food twins." At least half of our pinterest boards are direct repins from each other.
The best example of our unique foodie friendship was on my 30th birthday, when she gifted me with two giant mason jars of homemade yogurt. Clearly, she knows me well.
One bite of her yogurt and I was sold. Not only did I not die, but it was delicious! Absolutely the most incredible yogurt I've ever had. It was thick, creamy, with a subtle tart flavor. I wanted to do something special with it, rather than simply throwing it into a smoothie, so I made a simple muesli.
If you eat granola or instant oatmeal as a "healthy" breakfast, you should give muesli a try. Rather than using oats as a delivery system for sugar, muesli lets the oat flavor shine through. It's simply a mixture of raw rolled oats with nuts, dried fruit and seeds. It may not sound like the most appetizing thing, but let it sit overnight with creamy yogurt, drizzle with a little pure maple syrup and you'll be in heaven!
I always love to start my day with muesli, but this batch made with Barb's yogurt was sublime. It's convinced me to start making my own. Once things slow down a bit (tomorrow is my last day at work!!!), homemade yogurt will be on regular rotation at our house! Want to try it yourself? Barb was nice enough to share her yogurt recipe with y'all, so let's turn it over to her!
- 4 cups organic milk (I recommend whole, but 2% will also work. Ultra-pasteurized milk will NOT form yogurt.)
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, with live and active cultures
- Heat milk over medium heat to 180°, stirring frequently. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, heat milk until just below simmering.) Allow milk to cool to 110°. To cool the milk quickly, set the pan in ice water. The milk should feel warm to the touch, but not hot. Pour the milk into a clean quart-sized mason jar that has been sterilized with hot water. Add the yogurt to the jar and stir to mix thoroughly. Cap the jar tightly and wrap in a thick towel (I use a beach towel). Turn the oven light on and place the towel-wrapped jar on its side in the oven for 5-10 hours or overnight. The yogurt becomes thicker and more tart the longer you keep it in the oven. I usually aim for 7-8 hours. At this point, you can either refrigerate and enjoy as is, or strain to Greek-style yogurt.
- To strain, place a mesh strainer lined with a double layer or either cheesecloth or paper towels over a large bowl. Dump the yogurt into the lined strainer and place in the fridge for at least two hours. The longer you leave the yogurt, the thicker it will become. I find that the yogurt strains more quickly when using paper towels. Some recipes recommend straining for 8-24 hours, but I find this to be much too long. If it becomes too thick, you could always add a tablespoon or two of whey back in and stir well. I store my strained yogurt back in the quart jars as well as in individual servings mixed with honey and fruit for easy grab-and-go in the mornings.
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds, pecans or hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 3 cups plain, organic yogurt, plus more to serve
- Maple syrup
- Fresh fruit
- Mix together oats, nuts, golden raisins, and wheat germ. Transfer to a large mason jar or tupperware container until ready to serve.
- Place a heaping half cup of muesli in a mason jar or bowl. Add 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup water and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or at least an hour to soften.
- When ready to serve, top with a scoop of yogurt and fresh fruit.