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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Synchronicity: Homemade Yogurt and No Fat Frying

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." Hippocrates (460-370 BCE), Greek father of Western medicine.

   What is synchronicity?  Definitions run a gamut from that of Mirriam-Websters dictionary as "the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related," moments of meaningful coincidence, to Meg Lundstrom's "a wink from the Cosmos."
   In my opinion synchronicity was happening on the cut when we finally met up with Kiwi's Marilyn and Dave (NB Waka Huia), who introduced us to the other scathingly brilliant New Zealand import: the Easiyo Yogurt Maker. They have one aboard their boat and brought some to share for dessert. It was delicious; thick, creamy, yummy! Once Marilyn showed me how simple it was to make I was hooked. The MacDonalds were kind enough to give us five packets of Greek yogurt style with real coconut bits.  
The EasiYo Yogurt Maker SystemOver here the health food chain Holland & Barrett stock Easiyo Yogurt makers and the packet mixes to make yogurt in dozens of styles and flavors (or flavours--take your pick!) The actual Yogurt incubator costs £17.00 and requires no electricity. It wipes clean with a damp sponge and reflects the low tech/high quality lifestyle many boaters tend to embrace. The mix packets cost anywhere from £3.03-£4.95 depending on which style and flavor you purchase. Each packet makes a Kilo (1 quart).
    I've made three batches so far and we love it, which is high praise from Les who believed yogurt was some spoiled, sour milk-gone-wrong science lab project he would never eat. And again you ask, what does this have to do with synchronicity?
    We had no idea the week after this yogurt introduction that Les and I would be facing "Beating Cancer Round Two." While I know for a fact that as many as 85% of all cancer can be prevented with a change in diet--and in fact I healed my immune system and beat ovarian cancer by following a two year alternative therapy in which I had to undergo a drastic change to my diet--after I met Les I slipped back into old eating and cooking habits because I love to cook and we both love to eat. I used him as an excuse to turn my back on what I knew was the healthiest road to travel, playing Russian Roulette with my own health and doing Les' health no favors.

   After Les' first round with cancer last October he had lost 30 pounds and was facing two surgeries (the relatively simple urethra stretch and the longer stoma reversal). I needed to put some weight back on him so he could survive those surgeries. He was also so euphoric at the results of his surgery that he refused to consider what he felt were draconian diet changes.
   Les did stop eating cookies (biscuits) and tea for breakfast and began eating granola with fresh fruit so that was a small victory. I certainly wasn't going to spend my days arguing endlessly with my Best Beloved about what he ate, so I let it slide... There it also a deep driving desire of most cancer patients in recovery who just want life to go back to normal. Sadly, there is too much in "normal" that is killing us.
   Les is now willing to make most of those changes and I am happy to join him. Red meat is gone from our diet, as is bacon, sausage, and prepared meats; most cheese is a thing of the past, milk is allowed in small quantities, and fats and oils are also removed from our food with the exception of a little cold pressed virgin olive oil and a bit of butter every now and then.
   Needless to say traditional baked goods are no longer allowed with the exception of fresh baked whole grain bread. Sugar is only stored on NB Val now for those who come to visit and want it in their tea. We use Agave Nectar, honey, or Maple syrup as sweeteners. Chicken and fish is allowed occasionally, but we will be eating mostly vegetables and fruit.
   So homemade yogurt is exactly the blessing we needed--and it arrived ahead of the diagnosis! And that was synchronicity!!
   I've gone through my cookbook and tagged the recipes which I can adapt to using plain yogurt in place of cream, sour Cream, Cream Cheese, mayonnaise, salad creme, and milk. I made Les a salad dressing with plain yogurt and he was amazed at how nice it tasted.
   I also introduced him to yogurt parfaits--the breakfast that tastes like a dessert! When my girls were little I used to make breakfast for them every morning before school; something different every day. One day a week I used nice dessert glasses and layered breakfast cereal, yogurt, and fresh fruit. My children thought they were getting away with something naughty--having dessert for breakfast. So I tried this out on Les, with his granola cereal, the homemade coconut yogurt, and fresh strawberries.
   Dear Sir was over the moon. He said it was "...gorgeous!! This tastes like something from Marks & Spencer!" The best thing is these yogurt parfaits are good for our digestion, they satisfy his HUGE sweet tooth and he doesn't feel like he had to give up things he loved and get nothing equal in return. There is also some evidence that natural yogurt (not the products from the store with gelatin, stabilizers, and high calorie sugars) provides some protection from bowel cancer.
   The other bit of joy I had last week was finally finding a ceramic coated saute pan (the link above is to Vita Verde-the manufacturers--which offer care and use guidelines). I had seen them advertised on the telly about three months ago and I've seen inserts in the Saturday newspaper selling them but I wanted to hold it in my hand and really look at the pan before I bought one. I found a 30 CM pan at Tesco for £25.00. Finally I could throw away Les' bachelor Teflon coated fry pan which was flaking and wearing away.
   I used it reluctantly as I read an article many years ago which warned those with birds as pets never to hang their cages in the kitchen if one cooked with Teflon coated cookware. Apparently Teflon out-gasses when heated and the chemicals will kill birds. I rationalized years ago that if Teflon was harmful to birds it wasn't very good for me and I've never allowed it in my kitchen until I moved on the boat.
   I fixed a chicken and vegetable stir fry using a tiny bit of water to flash steam the veg after the chicken browned and it was delicious. It was amazing to watch the chicken brown beautifully without the benefit of oil. The secret I think, to using ceramic pans is this: do not fry protein rich foods on high heat.  It isn't necessary as there is no oil, fat, or lard in the pan requiring high heat to make browning occur. Everything slipped easily out of the pan and it washed up without barely a wipe. One could use a drop of olive oil if one wanted--but it would only take about 1/4 tsp. to provide the same effect as 2-3 Tablespoons or more in a regular frying pan. It is so lovely to cook and not have grease spattering everywhere, or having the gunky mess to clean up in the pan afterward. 
   My next dessert attempt will be baked apples. Thank you to Robert (WB Wind in the Willows) who brought a bag of apples along on a visit earlier this week. I will peel and core a couple of apples, and make tin foil bundles for them to sit in. I will mix rolled oats, a dash of cinnamon, clove, a couple of passes on a micro grater for some lemon zest, a bit of honey, and some fresh blackberries; stuff the emptied core of each apple with the previous mixed ingredients and then drizzle some over the top. Pull the tin foil up around each apple like a closed bundle (sitting on a baking sheet), and bake the apples at 350F (gas mark 4) for thirty-forty minutes. Remove from the oven and open the tin foil and let sit for 5-8 minutes until cooled enough to eat. You could even top yours with a bit of custard or a scoop of creamy, cold ice cream. We will top our with fresh coconut yogurt! Bon appétit!!

P.S. I will blog again shortly with more info on Easiyo in the U.S. for our North American readers. 

9 comments:

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Jaq
Did Marilyn explain the Jan Jones method of making the Easiyo sachet go four times further than as stated on the pack?

We blogged how to do it back in 2011. Link here......
http://www.narrowboat-waiouru.co.uk/2011/10/alternative-method-for-easiyo-yoghurt.html

All the best to you both

Tom & Jan

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's Christina!I just dropped in to say hi, and read that Mr. C keeps coming around unannounced. I keep you both in my thoughts, and believe that both of your amazing sense of humors have and will get you through everything. Take care, and keep blogging so I can check up on you!
love, Christina

Anonymous said...

Who'd have thought you could get something so health from MacDonalds! Well done Marylin & Dave.

Take care
Alistair

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oooh Tom! Thanks for pointing this out!! I am on like yeast in bacteria in yogurt!!We are really interested in the ice cream maker. We love ice cream and obviously full cream and sugar ice cream is not on our menu anymore.
Hugs to you both,
JaqXX

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Christina! Thanks for checking in with us. How's life in Seattle? Give cliff a hug from both is us.
Jaq and LesXX

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oooh Alistair! LOL!
;) JaqXX

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Jaq,
The ice cream is nice, albeit somewhat expensive. Jan also has a recipe for ice cream using evaporated milk.

Judith Emery said...

I paid under £10 for mine when Lakeland had them on offer, they also have a good choice of packets as does The Range who have also had an offer for the kit. I've been using Jan's idea to make a packet go further but only useing half a packet, will try a quarter next time.
Hope all goes well for Les.
Judith
nb Serena

Marilyn McDonald said...

Wel, Jaq and Les, synchronicity is everywhere - I have just been in touch (at 5am NZ time) with my friend who had ovarian cancer treatment last year and has now found out that the follow ups to check if the b*stard C cells are back no longer includes the blood test for CA125, as apparently waiting and seeing is as effective. GGGRRR! For whom, I ask?
So your post which I have just read (sleep patterns a bit messy at the moment) will be sent to Lesley as a link.
I am so glad Les is enjoying the yoghurt. A question tho re stretching it with milk powder - does that assist with your restriction on milk in the diet?
Re salad dressing - my new fave is honey, lemon or lime juice and grated root ginger. It may even be good with a tsp of yoghurt added.
Have you considered cutting out as much gluten as possible too? Or making use of spelt flour instead?
Bigg hugs to you both, M&Dxox

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs