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Yogurt and Yogurt Substitutes

Many folks who suffer from lactose intolerance can tolerate yogurt made from cow’s milk, as the beneficial bacteria in yogurt helps break down lactose. Whether you can eat yogurt or need to stick to the non-dairy kind, keep in mind that as a general rule of thumb, you should look for and buy plain, unsweetened varieties. Fruit-flavored yogurts can have up to 28 g of sugar  that’s 7 teaspoons of sugar in one serving.

Greek yogurt

Picking the Healthiest Non-Dairy Yogurt

Based on ingredient content and taste, my pick of non-dairy yogurts is Whole Soy and Company’s Unsweetened Plain.

Of course, when you go to the grocery store, you’ll see a number of other yogurt alternatives available, but most are laden with added sugars and highly processed ingredients.

For example:

yogurt with strawberries

  • SoDelicious Coconut or Almond yogurt is full of stabilizers and thickening agents (guar gum, xanthan gum, pectin, algin, locust bean gum, carrageenan, dipotassium phosphate), all in a mere 4 oz of yogurt.
  • Amande and Almond Dream Almond yogurts have fewer stabilizers and thickeners than SoDelicious, but still quite a few ingredients that don’t sound like food.
  • Ricera Rice Yogurt and Silk Soy yogurts contain fewer stabilizers and thickeners, but are high in added sugars.
  • Stonyfield Soy Yogurt has good ingredient content, but unfortunately, it’s high in sugar.

Adding Flavor to Your Yogurt

Here are a few ways to pump up the flavor in plain yogurt without adding too much sugar. Add:

  • fresh fruit
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom
  • 100% cocoa powder
  • sliced cucumber and dill
  • toasted rolled oats and nuts
  • chia seeds and vanilla extract

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

You can also make your own yogurt using a vegan yogurt starter and your favorite milk substitute. This may sound challenging, but it’s not complicated and fairly fool-proof to make.


  1. Heat your milk alternative to 180 degrees F using a thermometer. (I usually use two 32 oz containers of milk substitute.)
  2. Let the milk substitute cool to 112 degrees F.
  3. Pour some of the milk into a smaller glass and stir in the vegan culture powder.
  4. Stir this mixed culture back into the rest of the heated milk.
  5. Pour the entire batch into large, sealable glass jars. (A 64 oz mason jar works well.)
  6. Incubate for 4 hours, following the vegan culture powder package instructions.
  7. Fill an ice chest with hot tap water from the sink and then place the jar of cultured milk in it. According to the vegan culture powder instructions, leave the cultured milk out for 4 hours. You can also leave it out overnight.
  8. Place your yogurt in the fridge. Some liquid separation is normal.
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