Foraslong as humans have been drinking milk, they have been fermenting and culturing it to preserve it, producing what we know as yogurt.
When we speak of "culture," we mean colonies of milk- and people-friendly bacteria.
According to legend, the first cultured milk happened spontaneously. One morning, a nomad stored fresh goat’s milk in a goatskin bag. During his ride, the milk was subjected to heat, stirring, and natural bacteria found on the goatskin. In the evening, he attempted to pour out the milk. Instead, he got a tangy, custardy, spoonable product.
Another yogurt legend has it that villagers, disgruntled by Genghis Kahn’s seizing of their village, offered him milk that had been stored in a gourd for several days. The villagers assumed the milk was sour, and everybody knows that sour milk will kill you. Rather than dying, however, Khan enjoyed the tangy treat and claimed it fortified him enough to continue with his conquests.
Over the years, many groups have claimed that yogurt promotes health, increases life expectancy and ensures intestinal balance.
The many health claims seemed to be linked to the two major bacteria used to make true yogurt: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and strep tococcus thermophilus. If you would like to include these micro-good guys in your diet, you’ll need to become a yogurt label reader. Look for the words "live cultures" or "living cultures" on containers of yogurt and its more liquid cousin, kefir. If the cultures are not active, you won’t get any health benefit from them.
The friendly bacteria cultures in yogurt can help with intestinal health. Think about using plain (unflavored) yogurt or kefir as a base for salad dressing, creamy sauces, to dilute canned soups or as a cooking ingredient. Use fruit-flavored yogurt or kefir in fruit smoothies, as a dressing for fruit salads and as a dip for fresh fruit.
If you’re watching the fat calories, select low-fat or non-fat yogurt or kefir.
If you’re into gadgets, purchase a home yogurt maker so you can have fresh yogurt whenever you’d like it.
All yogurts, whether or not they have the live cultures, are naturally high in calcium and are a good source of magnesium and phosphorus. Most yogurt is made with milk that has been fortified with vitamins A and D.
Yield: 2 cups
11/2 cups plain nonfat 2 tablespoons orange juice
yogurt concentrate 1 tablespoon fresh lemon 5 tablespoons orange juice
juice 1 tablespoon maple syrup 1 teaspoon fresh lemon 2 tablespoons minced
zest fresh garlic Procedure: 1. In large glass or plastic bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Allow to chill at least 30 minutes before serving. Use as a dip for fresh fruit, bread sticks or crackers, as a dressing for fruit salad or as a dessert sauce for angel food cake or low-fat muffins. Nutrition data per 2-tablespoon serving: Calories 23 (2 percent from fat); fat .1 g; protein 2 g; carbohydrates 4 g; fiber .05 g; cholesterol 0 mg; sodium 18 mg; calcium 50 mg.
Source: Nancy Berkoff