Cultured Cashew Yoghurt
I love yoghurt. I personally believe from a nutrition standpoint that plain & cultured yoghurt should be regularly consumed, whether dairy, coconut, soy or nut based. Using nuts as a base for yoghurt rather than dairy offers the benefit of their less saturated fats, and naturally occurring B vitamins and magnesium.
Cashews, as with many nuts, are naturally dominant in monounsaturated fats. When compared with dairy based yoghurt, most of the fat (albeit a small amount) comes from saturated fats. This is not a huge issue when other sources of fats in the diet are from mono & polyunsaturated fats, but can become an issue in standard American diets because saturated fats can over time contribute to arteriosclerosis and inflammation. There will be more fat in cashew yoghurt than plain 2% Greek yoghurt, but let's not shy away from fats anymore, and embrace the many different types of fats & their helpful place in the body. Cashew nuts also contain more fiber than dairy based yoghurt, and are very high in magnesium.
This recipe can act as a base for baking, for sauces and dips (I actually made it in order to try a cashew based tzaziki which was INCREDIBLE and I'll be posting it later this week), or used on its own as a delicious nutty yoghurt.
Ingredients (yields about 1 1/2 cups of yoghurt)
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juie
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 probiotic capsules broken open
As with most cashew based recipes, the cashews must be soft to blend. Soaking the cashews overnight in filtered water is ideal, but the process can be sped up by using hot water. Add soaked cashews, lemon juice, and salt to a blender, then the 1/2 cup of water. Blend until the consistency resembles yoghurt. This mixture may be runny, but the fermentation by probiotics will thicken the yoghurt. Once you've reached the desired texture, break open 2 probiotic capsules (I used Flora's 25 billion cfu shelf stable probiotics) and mix thoroughly. You may wish to blend more to disperse the probiotics equally.
In a glass bowl, cover with a towel or a cheesecloth - a breathable material - and place in a dark room, or your cooled and unused oven - for at least 12 hours. At this point, you can refrigerate the yoghurt and use pretty much immediately!
Note: I prefer a tangy, plain yoghurt as opposed to a sweeter yoghurt. You can add dates, honey, or vanilla to the mixture before blending to achieve a sweeter taste. Really, anything goes here!