We're talking all things Y.
Yoghurt, Yeast and Yakisoba. Short but sweet.
A nutritious food that has been consumed for hundreds of years and has many health boosting properties.
What is Yoghurt?
Yoghurt is made from the fermenting of milk using good, gut-friendly bacteria.
It comes in all sorts of varieties; greek, natural, sweetened, unsweetened, fruit-based, low-sugar, low-fat.
You name it, there is likely to be a yoghurt for it.
It is traditionally made from dairy milk - but today, you will find a multitude of yogurt alternatives made from milks such as almond, coconut, soya, oat. The list goes on.
What are the different types of yoghurt and what do they mean?
As I mentioned there is an inordinate amount of different varieties of yoghurt to choose from. As with anything, excess choice can be at times overwhelming.
So here I will go in to the most common types and explain what these mean.
Natural yoghurt is as it says in the name. Natural. It is yoghurt which has had nothing added to it in the way of sweetener or flavouring.
It is often a little sour but can be naturally sweetened by adding a little jam or even drizling in honey.
Greek yoghurt is just like natural yoghurt apart from it has been strained an additional time making it thicker. The straining process removes more of the whey which predominantly is made of water and lactose (the sugar found in milk). Due to this, those who suffer with lactose intolerance, might be able to better digest Greek yoghurt as it contains less lactose as a result of the straining process.
It also has a higher protein content compared with natural yoghurt due to the extra straining.
Low-fat, or reduced-fat yogurt, is made with 2% fat content in the milk. Whereas non-fat yogurt is made with zero percent fat or skimmed milk.
It is important to note, that even though these may say they are low-fat - often manufacturers add sugars or artificial flavourings or other unhealthy ingredients to the yoghurt in order to make it taste better. So it's important to see whether the benefit of eating low-fat products is better than eating a natural version of the product with regards to whether you are offsetting the low-fat nature of the product by eating large amounts of sugar in the process.
Somewhat a buzz word in recent years - (I wrote some more on kefir that you can read here), kefir is a liquid yogurt for drinking full of good gut-benefitting bacteria. It is made using a specific culture of yeast and bacteria and unflavoured can be very sour in its taste.
Non-dairy yogurt is exactly what it says it is - yoghurt made from non-dairy milk sources. It has become more common in recent years and now there are endless options of non-dairy milk yogurt on the market.
The options available are oat-based, soya based, coconut-based, almond-based, cashew-based.
10 simple ways to use yoghurt in your meals.
Yoghurt can be used in many ways. From sweet to savoury, in all sorts of dishes from cakes to fish and meat dishes, salads and dressings.
It makes a great tzatziki - yoghurt, cucumber, olive oil, fresh herbs (usually mint or dill), garlic, lemon juice and salt. Recipe here. This can be lathered on wraps, eaten with slow cooked lamb, used to accompany roasted veggies, or as a dip for crudities, warm pitta etc.
Use it to make a tandoori chicken - yoghurt, spices, garlic, ginger and a little oil, and lemon juice.
Use to make a bircher muesli for breakfast: oats, apple, yoghurt, seeds, nuts, berries. The options are endless here. Here is a great recipe from BBC Good Food.
Yoghurt cake - this is an absolute failsafe winner for anyone who is scared of giving baking a go. Recipe is below.
Make a tasty smoothie bowl - uber quick and a great way to get a speedy breakfast ready if you’re really pushed for time. Add yoghurt, frozen fruit, chia seeds (optional but helps to thicken), oats, and toppings of your choice. You might need to add a little milk too. Think about adding nut butters too. A tasty strawberry and banana recipe here from The Forked Spoon.
Use in a low-fat salad dressing in place of mayonnaise. You can make a really delicious creamy dressing using yoghurt, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, garlic, honey/sugar, fresh/dried dill. You can add a little Dijon mustard too. Method and recipe here.
Top Spaghetti Bolognese or chilli con carne with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and a good grind of salt and cracked black pepper then add cheese of your choice! The creamy yoghurt goes deliciously well with the warm tomatoey sauce.
Substitute yoghurt in place of double cream. Just make sure you use a thick Greek style yoghurt. You can then flavour as you wish - adding in lemon curd, jams, fresh berries. The opportunities are endless. Use to make puddings like Eton Mess, Pavlova, fruit fools etc.
Use it to make a very simple, homemade naan with just 2 ingredients. Flour and yoghurt (plus a splash of oil and salt and pepper). Find the recipe for homemade naan in our A-Z Week N post here.
Rainbow slaw or any coleslaw for that matter can be made a little lighter by substituting half or ⅔ of the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt and it will taste just as delicious.
Simple yoghurt cake:
Perhaps one of the easiest cakes you will ever make - and it is nearly almost always fool proof. So if you think you’re not one who’s ever had much success on the baking front - this might just be your triumph and you won’t need to be reaching for those packet mixes any more!
It’s also a great one for getting the kids involved as it’s so simple and fun as the yoghurt pot does all the measuring for you!
You can always guarantee it will be light and moist.
The reason it is so simple because it uses the yoghurt from the pot then you use the pot to do all of the measuring!
It couldn’t get much easier.
1 pot of plain yoghurt (125ml approx) - I usually use natural yoghurt
2 pots of self raising flour
1 pot of sugar (usually caster)
Half a pot of oil (use a mild olive oil or a sunflower or vegetable oil)
3 large eggs
Small pinch of salt
You can then customise by adding in whatever you fancy - chocolate chips, raspberries, some lemon/orange zest and essence, blueberries, raisins... whatever you like.
I often use a loaf tin - but you can also use a round tin.
Preheat oven to 175oC
Pour the yoghurt in to the mixing bowl and scrape out the pot.
Add the 2 pots of flour, 1 of sugar, half pot of oil, and the eggs and pinch of salt and mix until you have a nice shiny batter.
It will be quite runny.
NB - if you want to add chocolate chips or raisins or zest and essence - I would add it here.
If you are adding whole fruit like raspberries which will likely get mushed if you mix them in - add them after you have poured them in to the tin.
Pour the batter in to the tin. I would always recommend lining the tin with a little bit of greaseproof paper to just keep the cake from sticking on the bottom.
Place in the pre-heated oven for 45mins - 1hr, depending on the oven.
Once it is golden and has stopped wobbling - it is done.
Remove, place on a cooling rack and then once cool - plate and dust with icing sugar, top with some berries or use a runny icing or buttercream icing to top.
So simple - so delicious!
A pretty important ingredient when we think about it.
Without it we’d have some unrisen, brick like loaves on bread on our supermarket shelves!
Yes there are breads which don’t use yeast - like soda bread, which by the way, is delicious and super easy to make if you’re feeling adventurous (or even if you’re not feeling adventurous). It has four ingredients and takes under 5 minutes to make. You can’t really not give it a go when it’s that easy can you?! Here’s a simple recipe to follow should you feel inspired.
Slather in butter, use to dip in stews, toast, use as solider for dippy eggs. The list is endless. And it’s delicious. Has a great crust and keeps for days.
Another bread which doesn’t use yeast is sourdough. Sourdough is a great bread. It’s a slow fermented bread that is made with a live fermented culture which is what causes it to rise without the need for commercial yeast. Unfortunately for sourdough - you need to create a starter dough which takes a little bit of time. This can be anywhere from 2-12 hours. It’s even better after a few days. Some sourdough starters are over 100 years old!
Now, back to the ingredients at hand...yeast.
Yeast is a fungus which is often used in baking and brewing.
Any sort of ‘leven’ bread or pastry often contains yeast. As it is used to help baked goods rise. So think bread, bagels, commercial pizza (unless sourdough), English muffins, ciabatta, focaccia, donuts, croissants, hot cross buns etc - all of these use yeast.
The yeast is used to help add flavour to the bread, it is also what gives bread its light, sponge-like texture and good crust. Without yeast you would have a heavy, very dense loaf of bread.
Fresh yeast or dried yeast?
When it comes to home baking, most of us use quick-acting dried yeast for our bakes. Why? Because it’s easy to store and has a long shelf life it’s also reliable and convenient.
However you can also use fresh yeast. You can get this at your local bakers and in some supermarkets. It is more perishable and has to be kept in either the fridge or the freezer. In the fridge it will keep for 2 weeks and in the freezer you can keep it for up to 2-months.
Quick eats: No-knead Hot Cross Buns.
Everyone loves a hot cross bun. Oozing with butter so much so that when you bite in to it, the butter rises up between your teeth!! Well, here’s a recipe to trump shop bought hot-cross buns any day of the week - and who’s to say you have to only have them at Easter!!
This is a recipe that you can use as a no-knead recipe, you can hand-knead or if you have a stand mixer - the easiest thing is to mix in there!
You will need:
Spices (and salt)
Sultanas (or cranberries/dried fruit of choice.
What else is yeast used for? Brewing!
Yeast is also found in brewing - so think your favourite beer.
The yeast that goes in to brewing is yeast that loves sugar. This is how the alcohol is produced as the yeast feeds off the sugars in the beer and creates carbon dioxide (the fizz) and alcohol.
It’s the same for champagne, cider
and other carbonated alcoholic drinks.
Love it or hate it...what is Yeast Extract?
We’ve all likely heard of marmite - that store cupboard condiment that people either love or hate. There’s not very often a partial like to this.
So what is marmite? It’s yeast extract. That umami (salty tasting), rich, tar-like spread that is delicious lathered on toast oozing with butter.
Yeast extract is often used for food flavouring and has a very savoury taste to it. You can often find it in soups, sauces, ready meals and savoury snacks. That’s why marmite is great when added to your bolognaises, stews, rich meals that you want to add and extra layer of oomph too.
Simple Eats: Marmite 5 ways
Now you might think some of these are gross - but trust me - before you say no thanks - give them a go for me.
Marmite goes incredibly well with eggs. Try adding marmite to your toast when you next have dippy egg and soldiers. It’s a real game changer!
Marmite pasta with butter. So simple but so tasty. Cook some pasta, then add butter and marmite, stir and serve. Ps - It’s a great hangover food.
Marmite and peanut butter on toast. It amazed me that it took the combined jar of these two goodies to take so long to reach a supermarket shelf as it’s something I’d been doing since age dot. But this classic combo on some toast is utterly delicious.
Microwave marmite and cheese on toast. Butter and marmite your toast, grate a load of cheese add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the cheese and bang in the microwave for about 15 seconds (or less) until the cheese is melted. Make sure you don’t over-do it as the bread will go soggy! If you have more time, you can always do this under the grill.
Try adding a good spoon of marmite to your next bolognaise, chilli or other rich meaty dish - it’ll add a real extra flavour to the dish.
A very classic Japanese stir-fry dish - Yakisoba is simple and very easy to make.
The yakisoba noodles are fried with other veggies (and or meat!) to make a deliciously comforting and tasty stir-fry noodle dish.
You can use tofu, pork, chicken, beef or just tonnes of veggies - the options are literally endless.
It makes a really yummy midweek meal and can be whipped up in under an hour.
For this chicken version, you'll need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red bell pepper
1 large carrot
1/2 bunch of green onions
1 lb boneless chicken
1/2 small cabbage head
1/2 large yellow onion
16 oz yakisoba noodles