snack

Instant Pot Yogurt Recipe

With five boys in the house, we can go through a lot of yogurt. Unfortunately, most yogurts you find in the grocery store are either filled with sugar and other icky additives or really expensive. Spending $6 for a tub of yogurt that my kids will go through in one sitting is NOT my idea of a good time. So when I bought my Instant Pot a few years ago, I made sure to get one with a yogurt function. Can you make yogurt without an Instant Pot? Absolutely. But if I’m honest, it intimidated me for years, so I never tried it. Using the Instant Pot has made it incredibly simple, so if you’re looking for an easy button when it comes to homemade yogurt, go with this Instant Pot version!

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If you haven’t tried homemade yogurt, you are seriously MISSING OUT. There are so many reasons to love homemade yogurt vs store-bought! The most obvious, of course, is taste. There’s really no comparison – homemade is the way to go. Next, let’s talk ingredients. When you buy yogurt in the store, you aren’t in control over what you’re eating. There are so many unnecessary additives, many of which you can’t even pronounce, and flavored yogurts have an insane amount of sugar. When you make food from scratch, there’s no wondering what’s in it and you can feel confident in what you and your family are eating. We chose to make our yogurt with raw milk, since that’s what we drink in our house. But I’ve made this recipe with store-bought milk as well, and they both work great. And of course, the price is a game changer. I can make a gallon of yogurt for the price of one gallon of milk. As a mom of many, that is a MAJOR win!

I’m fairly obsessed with my Instant Pot – we use it several times a week for all kinds of meals. It takes all the guess work out of yogurt-making, which I really love. Plan to spend about an hour in the kitchen when you’re getting the yogurt started, but then you’ll walk away and let it do its job. Take note: when you are making yogurt, it is not under pressure. This means you can remove the lid at any time. I purchased a glass Instant Pot lid to use while making yogurt so that I can keep it covered in the refrigerator also.

Ingredients:

  • one gallon milk (whole milk will work – and taste – best, but you can choose whichever fat content you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt starter (store-bought yogurt made with ONLY milk and live active cultures)
    **Note: If you prefer a thicker yogurt, try using less starter. You could use as little as 2 Tablespoons of starter.

Supplies:

Recipe:

  1. Press the yogurt function button. Press adjust until it reads “boil.” Pour 1 gallon of milk into the inner pot. Boil yogurt until it reaches at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit (up to 185 degrees), checking the temperature with a digital thermometer. I whisk the milk throughout the boiling process, as I find this helps it heat up faster. Occasionally my milk doesn’t reach 180 degrees before the timer beeps. If this happens, I just re-start the boil process and it will usually reach the right temperature fairly quickly.
  2. When your milk has reached 180 degrees, remove the inner pot and place it in a cold water bath. I add ice to the water to cool it down quickly. Keep the pot in the water until the temperature has reached 110-120 degrees, whisking the milk occasionally to help it cool faster.
  3. When your milk has cooled, remove the pot from the water. Add your yogurt starter, stirring it fully into the milk.
  4. Once the starter has been thoroughly mixed into the milk, put the inner pot back into the Instant Pot. Cover it with a lid and press the yogurt function button again. Press adjust until it reads 8:00 (8 hours). I find 8 hours to be perfect for the taste we prefer. If you like a slightly more tart yogurt, try the 10 hour setting instead. The timer will begin and all you have to do now is walk away! It will beep at the end of the 8 (or 10) hours.
  5. When the timer beeps, remove the inner pot and put it in the refrigerator – COVERED – for at least 6-8 hours. I usually do this overnight, so it’s ready and waiting for us in the morning (this also helps make sure none of my kiddos accidentally dip into it before it’s ready ;) Don’t disturb the yogurt at all while it’s in the refrigerator.

When your yogurt is ready, stir it up, and add any flavorings you want. We prefer to stick with real maple syrup, raw honey, or pure vanilla extract. We also like to eat it with granola, fruit, chia seeds, hemp hearts, raw cacao powder… well, basically we add anything yummy we have in the house!

Since we try to avoid added sugars, we don’t add any sugar to our homemade yogurt. If you or your kids are used to very sweet yogurt and you need to transition to something with less sugar, start with maple syrup, vanilla, and lots of fruit. Make up some small jars adding frozen fruit and maple syrup and leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will help the flavors really mix together!

You can store your yogurt in the large inner pot with the glass lid, if you’d like. We actually purchased a second inner pot so that we can still use the Instant Pot while the yogurt is in the refrigerator, and because we use our Instant Pot so often that it’s nice to have an extra. But the pot takes up a lot of space in the fridge!

Lately I’ve been storing my yogurt in these large wide mouth mason jars, because the two jars fit a gallon of yogurt perfectly. You can also fill smaller jelly jars and flavor them individually. This is perfect for on the go, like sending them with your kids to school, quick breakfasts, or taking them to work. The flavor possibilities are really endless, so you can really go nuts!

Happy eating, friends! Enjoy. :)

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Quick and Easy Avocado Spread

The other day I found myself in a snack dilemma. It was mid-afternoon, close enough to dinner that you don’t want to eat too much and ruin your appetite, but far enough that you need to eat something before you pass out or get hangry.  Being the day before grocery shopping, though, we were a little bare bones. No fresh fruit. No yogurt. I contemplated a smoothie, but then I saw one lone half of an avocado in the fridge from breakfast. Because desperation is the mother of all invention (that’s how that goes, right??), and my belly was crying out for guacamole, this quick and easy avocado spread was born!


This is so easy that you can probably make this right now.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 or 1 whole ripe avocado
  • Granulated garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Lime vitality essential oil or lime juice

Now don’t blink or you’ll miss these quick steps:

  1. Mash the avocado with a fork
  2. Add a few shakes of garlic and salt
  3. Add 1-2 drops of lime essential oil or a squeeze of lime juice
  4. Taste and tweak the flavor to your liking!

So easy, right??

Then grab some crackers or veggies and munch away! And never waste a random half an avocado again. :)

PS, if you want to find the essential oils I use, click here or shoot me an email at ifonlytheywouldnap at gmail dot com 

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

 

If you’ve ever had a picky eater in your household, you know the angst of trying to get them to branch out. Our picky eater would eat the same meal for lunch and dinner every.single.day. if we let him: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Seriously, this kid LOVES his PB&Js. I’m constantly working to get him to try new foods or even a new way to eat a food he likes. You mamas of picky eaters know how hard this is! So for a healthy and fun twist on his daily PB&J, I’ve been making these super yummy peanut butter and jelly granola bars for lunch or snack time instead!

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I’m pretty choosy about what foods we put into our bodies, so I really enjoy cooking and baking from scratch whenever I can. I’ve made these granola bars for years, and they’re always a big hit. I feel good about my family eating them, because I know exactly what’s inside. Homemade granola bars are always better than packaged and processed! They are also really easy and quick to make, which is a necessity in this season of my life.

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Because we put Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter inside the bars, they pair absolutely perfectly with our favorite Smucker’s Fruit Spread!

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We have used Smucker’s Fruit Spreads in our house for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love their “Simply Fruit” line – no added sugars! I’m a big fan of short ingredient lists. :) And the Fruit and Honey Triple Berry spread… oh my, I could eat it on its own, it’s so yummy.

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We spread the jelly and peanut butter on top, and then – to make it more like a true PB&J – we put another granola bar on top.

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This “sandwich” is easy to pack in a lunchbox, or put some jelly in a reusable container for dipping your granola bar. Pickiest eater approved!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t be surprised that one of my favorite places to shop is Target. We go through a loaf of bread in like five minutes, so the fact that I can pick up our PB&J supplies and this adorable basket and PINK rolling pin, all while drinking coffee (bonus points if I’m alone!)… well, I’m sold. ;)

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And I love love LOVE the Cartwheel app! Last month, I forgot my login password, and seriously spent an extra 20 minutes in the store trying every password I could possibly have used, then reseting my password, just so I could use my coupons. Ha!! Right now, both Smucker’s Fruit Spreads and Jif Peanut Butter Spreads have Cartwheel savings – which I totally used. Because seriously, five kids is kind of a lot and any little bit I can save makes me a happy mama!

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Ready to make your own??

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 – 1 cup raisins/chocolate chips/chopped nuts *optional

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
generous 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

optional toppings:

jelly
creamy peanut butter
bananas
chia seeds

Directions:

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Combine all wet ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until evenly moistened.
4. Spoon onto 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper – press evenly into the pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown (27 minutes is the sweet spot for me!)
6. Let cool completely before cutting into pieces. If you don’t, they will be crumbly and not stay formed into bars. They will still be yummy, but they may be more like granola instead of bars. :)
7. Top with Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Fruit Spread, and maybe some bananas or chia seeds too!

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My kids could NOT wait for this batch to cool, so we ended up with a lot of bite-sized pieces. Luckily, small pieces make the perfect snack.

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How do you combat the boring lunch blues??