How To Make Greek Yogurt In The Ninja-Foodi

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE yogurt in the mornings. It is definitely one of my all-time favorite breakfast foods, partially because it is just so easy! I also love to add granola on the top to give it some extra flavor and crunch!

But did you know that store-bought yogurts tend to be in high in sugar? I remember growing up, my mom used to be Yoplait yogurt and then she started buying the “light” version so that it didn’t have as much sugar. Nowadays, greek yogurt is all the craze because it is better for you. Greek yogurt has less sugar and more protein in it, however, it is more expensive because it takes more milk to make the same amount of greek yogurt as regular yogurt. Also, depending on the brand you purchase, there could be additives in the yogurt that definitely don’t make it natural. Things like fructose, corn starch, and soy lecithin, to name a few.

I admit, I was first intrigued by the idea of making my own yogurt purely to save money (because I’m cheap) but I loved the idea of controlling how much sugar my little one has in her yogurt as well as being able to control the other additives in the yogurt and not be concerned about preservatives either.

When I first tried making yogurt, I was dairy-free because I was breastfeeding Kylie and her tummy didn’t take too well to the dairy in my diet. If you’ve ever bought dairy-free yogurt, you know it is even more pricey than regular yogurts and they don’t sell big containers of it (at least, not of the flavors I preferred) which meant that I was buying a LOT more plastic as well. I tried a few times to make a dairy-free yogurt and failed multiple times. I’m still on the quest to find the perfect recipe, so if you have a fool-proof one, send it my way! In my research, I had learned that dairy yogurt is actually pretty hard to screw up which helped my confidence in trying it.

I made 2 batches before I really got my recipe down right so that it is perfectly creamy and not too tangy. The first time, I made it in a crock pot. It was fairly easy, but I didn’t love how how I needed to wrap it up into a towel and stick it into a cooler bag and hope that it stayed at a good enough temperature to help my little bacteria multiply. The next time, I tried making the yogurt in my mom’s instant pot since she has the yogurt button–and I mine does not. Biggest mistake EVER when buying my instant pot… but I digress. The instant pot was fairly easy and if you have one, I definitely suggest using it to make the yogurt. However, since mine doesn’t have that button, I decided to turn to my other handy-dandy kitchen appliance: the Ninja Foodi. Ya’ll, if you don’t have one of these contraptions in your kitchen arsenal, you definitely need to rethink your budget and save for one. My husband was actually the one who had heard about it and told me we needed one and it took awhile for me to be convinced but I LOVE it. It dehydrates, air fries, as well as does everything the instant pot does. SO AMAZING. It is a pretty big appliance but definitely does pretty much everything you could want.

So, the Ninja Foodi is where I have decided is the easiest place for me to make my yogurt, but you can use a regular yogurt maker, a crock pot, or an instant pot instead. This recipe is going to be universal as long as you follow the temperature guidelines.

Greek Yogurt in the Ninja Foodi

(For a condensed version of the instructions, scroll to the bottom of the post. However, if you haven’t made it before, I recommend reading through and getting some of my expert tips!)

Supplies:

1 Gallon Whole Milk

1/4 C yogurt starter with live and active cultures (either from a previous batch with nothing added or a greek yogurt from the store. Try to find the least amount of additives. I wouldn’t recommend using Chobani, however, I think it made those yogurt batches more tangy than my preference.)

Thermometer

Whisk and appliance you are cooking the yogurt in (I love my Ninja Foodi for this)

Yogurt strainer (I recommend this one! You can also use a nut milk bag if you have that and are on a tight budget!)

Directions:

1. Sterilize everything you’ll be using. You will be keeping your milk at a temperature to help the bacteria grow to make yogurt, which means bad bacteria can grow easily too. Make sure everything is CLEAN! To sterilize my Ninja Foodi, I put in 1 cup of water and a couple drops of lemon essential oil (I use plant therapy!) and pressure cook on high for 1 minute.

2. Pour in your milk and heat to 180 ° F. It is best to go low and slow if you don’t want milk burning on the bottom of your bowl BUT I normally don’t have the patience for this. On the Ninja Foodi, I will use Medium or Med-High with the Saute button. This takes a little bit of time so I just periodically check on it. I think it took about 30-45 minutes for me. If you are using the LOW function on the crock pot, it will take 3-4 hours.

Heating the milk.

3. Keep the milk at 180 ° F for 30 minutes. THIS STEP IS SO IMPORTANT and often neglected. It will make your yogurt so so creamy so don’t skip this! To do this, I preheat the oven to 180 ° F and once my milk is at that temperature, I transfer the bowl to the oven and leave it for 30 minutes.

4. Cool the milk to 110 ° F. You can sit around and wait for it to cool, BUT as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t have the patience for that so I put ice water in my sink and put the bowl in. I keep my thermometer inside and stir to make sure all the milk is registering at the same temperature. Once it hits 110 ° F, take it out immediately.

Cooling my milk in an ice bath. I keep the thermometer in it the whole time!

5. PRO TIP: Take a spoon and take off the milk “skin” on the top of the yogurt and discard it.

6. Whisk in your yogurt starter. You’ll only want to add 1/4 C because the bacteria does not like to be crowded. You also want to make sure you whisk really well so there are no chunks left otherwise your yogurt will have a weird consistency. After I’ve whisked in the yogurt started, I have bubbles on the top because of how hard and fast I’ve whisked it in. PRO TIP: If you’ve burned milk on the bottom, just be sure to not scrape that up. We want that to stay attached to the bottom of the bowl so it’s not in our yogurt–yuck!

My yogurt starter from a previous batch. Using your own yogurt starter makes this INCREDIBLY cheap!

7. Keep your yogurt at 105-115 ° F for 6+ hours. Here’s how to accomplish this with the Ninja Foodi. Cover your bowl with aluminum foil, set the Foodi to dehydrate at 180 ° F (NO THAT IS NOT A TYPO) and then the amount of hours you want. I personally like doing 6 hours for my yogurt, but if you want your yogurt to be more tangy, add some more hours on.

8. After “x” amount of hours, transfer the yogurt straight to the fridge. When I’ve looked at mine, it still looks liquidy–that’s ok! It will thicken in the fridge. Often, I just leave mine overnight and then strain it in the morning.

What the yogurt looks like straight out of the fridge BEFORE straining.

9. At this point, you have yogurt! Yay! If you want to make greek yogurt, you’ll want to strain out some of the whey with either a yogurt strainer or a nut milk bag. I prefer a yogurt strainer since it is easier and makes less of a mess but you definitely can use a nut milk bag. While straining, you do want to keep the yogurt refrigerated though, so keep that in mind. I like to strain my yogurt for 4-6 hours because I like mine REALLY thick! Whey does come out in the beginning looking more white but once you have a bit of it is a yellowy liquid! PRO TIP: If you want, you can save the whey you collect for different purposes! I save mine in mason jars and freeze it if I don’t use it right away!

What my greek yogurt looks like after straining. SUPER thick and yummy!

10. After straining, just remember to pull out 1/4 C to use as your yogurt starter next time and then sweeten and flavor according to your preference! I like to add 2-3 TB of sugar and then I add raspberries and granola in as well.

Half of the batch. Whey on the LEFT and greek yogurt on RIGHT.

ENJOY!

Here are the CONDENSED Instructions:

Ingredients:

1 Gallon Milk

1/4 C. Yogurt starter

Directions:

  1. Pour milk into Ninja Foodi.
  2. Turn on Sauté function and heat milk to 180° F.
  3. Preheat oven to 180° F and then put the bowl of milk into the oven. Keep milk at 180° F for 30 minutes.
  4. Cool the milk to 110° F.
  5. Add your yogurt starter and whisk.
  6. Keep yogurt at 105-115° F for at least 6 hours. To do this, cover the bowl with aluminum foil and set the Ninja Foodi to “dehydrate” at 180° F.
  7. Transfer bowl to the fridge to allow yogurt to set.
  8. Strain, if desired.

Benefits of Rose Water And How To Easily Make Your Own

Often times, roses are thought of as the flower you get for Valentine’s day or from someone who loves you. Roses—especially red roses—are a symbol of romance, love, and elegance. For a long time, I didn’t realize that roses could have another purpose besides being a beautiful flower to be looked at. I remember being in high school and my friend brought chocolate covered rose petals to school. Obviously, I was intrigued. She explained that you could eat the rose petal if you wanted or you could just eat the chocolate portion and it would have the flavor of the rose. I tried it and honestly, I don’t think I like the taste of flowers in my chocolate, but it was an interesting concept to me. Fast forward to my natural living journey, when I was researching new deodorants to use. I wanted to be able to make something from home rather than buying it because I enjoy creating things and I figured it would be cheaper and easier. In my research, I came across rose water and I felt late to the party since many people were using it as a facial toner and I wasn’t even sure what that meant. As I continued my research, I’ve learned that rose water has a variety of benefits and as an added bonus, it is really easy to make your own!

Rose Water For The Skin

Rose water can be immensely beneficial for our skin. Many people use rose water as a facial toner because it can restore the pH level of our skin. Maintaining your skin’s pH level is important because it helps keep your skin healthy. If your skin’s pH is too alkaline (or basic), drying, dehydration, and inflammation can occur. If your skin is too acidic, breakouts and other irritations can occur. In addition to fighting breakouts, rose water is excellent to decrease the redness in your face as well.

Rose water also reduces wrinkles and age spots because of its antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids. It can also be used to tighten the pores in your face as well as act as a cleanser because it does well in removing the oil and dirt accumulating in clogged pores.

If anyone struggles with dermatitis or eczema, rose water’s anti-inflammatory properties will help get rid of those ailments while maintaining the skin’s pH and controlling excess oil.

Along with anti-inflammatory benefits, rose water also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that will help wounds—such as cuts, scrapes, or burns—heal faster and fight off infections while doing so.

Rose Water For the Body

Rose water has been used to soothe sore throats. Rather than reaching for an antibiotic, try making some rose water. Not only will the tea soothe your throat, since the rose water is filled with vitamin C and other antioxidants, it will help boost your immune system. You can also use rose tea to aid in relieving menstrual cramps. And let’s be real, no one likes those!

Rose water has also been said to be a mood enhancer. Not only does the smell have a calming effect, it helps calm the central nervous system which results in antidepressant and antianxiety effects.  

Rose water can also be used to relieve headaches which may be attributed to the calming of the central nervous system mentioned above. You can use the vapor of the rose water or apply a compress soaked in rose water to feel the benefits.

Rose water can also aid in soothing digestive issues. In this study, there is some evidence that rose water can aid in digestion and relieve digestive upset. It’s possible that it also helps improve bile secretion, which will further aid in digestion.

In addition to all of those benefits, many people like to use rose water in their homemade perfumes, lotions, and soaps for a floral scent.

As you can see, rose is something you’ll want to keep on hand. While rose essential oils can be pricey, making your own rose water is simple. There are two different ways to make it: simmering or distilling.

Rose Water: Simmering Method

This method is quick and easy to do and creates fragrant, colorful rose water.

 Supplies you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Place ¼ cup of dried rose petals into your skillet.
  2. Add 1 ½ cup of water
  3. Cover your skillet and bring to a boil
  4. Once water begins to boil, turn down the temperature to low so the roses and water will simmer.
  5. Continue to simmer until the rose petals have lost their color. They will become an off-white/yellowy color.
  6. Once cooled, strain the rose petals and water through your strainer or nut bag.
  7. Discard the rose petals.
  8. Store your rose water in a glass bottle. The shelf life of your rose water will be shorter if not refrigerated. (I have heard of people adding vodka to help preserve it, but I have never tried this!)

Rose Water: Distilling Method

This method creates a rose hydrosol that has a longer shelf life. It can be kept at room-temperature for up to six months! Hydrosol is also colorless and very potent.

Supplies you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Place one of your bowls upside down in the middle of the pot.
  2. Place around 2 cups of dried rose petals around the bowl.
  3. Pour water over the rose petals so they are completely covered
  4. Put your second bowl on top of the first bowl, but this one is right side up. This is the bowl that will catch your rose hydrosol.
  5. Place your lid on the pot upside down. The steam will condense on the lid and drip down the lid handle into your bowl—so make sure they line up!
  6. Turn on the heat. You can either keep the temperature on low, or you can start by bringing the water to a boil and then turn it down to low. Add some ice to the top of your lid. I put my ice into a Ziploc bag so that it didn’t make a mess.
  7. You may need to replace the ice as it melts.
  8. Let the rose petals simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  9. Remove the hydrosol and let it cool and then place it in your glass container for storage.

I have made both methods and have found both to be fairly simple and easy. The rose water that is colorful is fun but I have opted to make the hydrosol because of the longer shelf life. However, the distillation method does make less than the simmering method does, so keep that in mind based on whatever it is you are using your rose water for.

Be prepared for an amazing rose aroma as you make your rose water and let me know how it goes for you and which method you prefer!

10 Must-Have Plants In Your Home

Many people have plants in and around their home for decoration but did you know that certain plants can serve a secondary purpose? It is commonly known that plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, but many plants can actually help improve your indoor air quality. 

Did you know that the air in your home is polluted with all sorts of nasty things such as formaldehyde and other damaging pollutants? And those pollutants come from a variety of different sources such as: combustion sources, building materials and furnishings, asbestos-containing insulation, wet/damp carpet, cabinetry or furniture made of certain wood products, household cleaning products, personal care, heating and cooling systems, humidification devices and miscellaneous outdoor sources. (US Consumer Product Safety Commission)

If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, that means you and your babies spend a lot of your time breathing in those pollutants. Scary! When I discovered how nasty our indoor air quality really can be–most times worse than outdoor air–I researched ways to improve our home air quality. 

While it is highly unrealistic to get new carpet, mattresses, paint, furniture etc. that are all non-toxic and don’t off-gas bad pollutants into the air, there are a few things you can do to improve the air quality in your home. First being to get rid of the the toxic things in your home that you do have control over such as cleaning supplies and beauty supplies. You’ll also want to make sure your home gets proper ventilation by opening windows or doors to let fresh air in. Now, I know we can’t always have the windows open because of various temperatures and weather circumstances, so another way to improve air quality–and decorate your space–is by adding plants around your house. 

Studies have been done to test the plants that do best with removing formaldehyde and other pollutants from the air. And luckily, the list ranges from plants that can be hung, to plants that stay on the ground. If you have pets or curious children, you’ll want to make sure the plants you choose to keep in your home are safe for the pets or you can choose to hang them to keep them out of the way. I love the look of hanging plants in bedrooms and on shelves throughout the home, and so that is what I chose to do. Many of the plants have a different style as well and so you can easily incorporate the plant that will work best in your home.

  1. Golden Pothos (removes formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide)
golden pothos indoor plants that clean the air

2. Asparagus Fern (removes formaldehyde)

asparagus fern indoor plants for natural living

3. Bird’s Nest Succulent (removes formaldehyde)

4. Aloe Vera (removes formaldehyde)

simple changes to your home to clean the air aloe vera plant

5. Spider Plant (removes carbon monoxide, formaldehyde)

6. Elephant Ear Philodendron (removes formaldehyde)

elephant ear philodendron natural living indoor plants

7. English Ivy (removes benzene)

natural living plants that purify the air English ivy plant

8. Ficus (removes formaldehyde)

indoor plants that clean the air ficus plant

9. Chinese Evergreen (removes formaldehyde)

10. Peace Lily (removes benzene, trichloroethylene)

simple natural living indoor plants that purify the air peace lily plant

Some plants are easier to care for than others, so if you have a brown-thumb or are new to caring for indoor plants, try opting for aloe vera or a golden pothos plant to start! Indoor plants are beautiful and if you choose to hang them, you can make your own macrame plant hanger that adds a bohemian look to your decor. I’d love to hear what plants you choose to purchase or what plants you already tend to in your home. 

indoor plants macrame plant hanger plants that purify the air