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By Julene Tripp Weaver

The lactobacillus in yogurt feeds the intestines, maximizes nutrients you can absorb into your body, insures the digestive system stays healthy, and stabilizes the immune system.

"Yogurt has strong medicinal properties, including the ability to stimulate the immune system and kill bad "bugs" or bacteria in the human gut. ...research at the University of California at Davis showed that eating live-culture yogurt was associated with higher-than-average levels of gamma interferon, a key component of the body's immune system."(1)

The secret to good yogurt is that it contains live cultures, there are four major strains of bacteria to look for: L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, and bifidobacteria. There are good brands of yogurt available check the label to make sure it specifies active cultures. It is always better to buy the yogurt plain and add in the fruit or jam just before eating it. Frozen yogurt is not the same product and will not yield the same health benefits; even if they specify live cultures they will have only a fraction of the beneficial bacteria of fresh yogurt and they will not enhance lactose tolerance. In yogurt the process of growth from milk into yogurt involves the conversion of lactose into lactic acid. Lactic acid helps digest lactose. In other words, yogurt provides the enzyme needed to digest milk products. Calcium, which is found in dairy products, needs to enter the body in an acid matrix or your body will not absorb it. So the lactic acid of yogurt is a perfect medium to maximize calcium absorption. Eight ounces of yogurt will equal 400 mg of calcium, 25% more calcium than you would get out of a glass of milk.

When someone is HIV positive and has a CD4 count under 200 their production of hydrochloric acid (HCL) slows down. HCL is normally produced by your stomach to help with the digestion of food. When you have less HCL and digestive enzymes digestion becomes incomplete, food moves too quickly along the digestive tract. Your body doesn't get enough calcium and other minerals. Difficulty sleeping and malabsorption are common end results. Yogurt is one of those foods that you can eat to enhance your HCL production thus improving your digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and your bodies general well being. Have you experienced the irritating vaginal itch, usually accompanied by a discharge? As women we can get yeast overgrowth in our vaginas. Living with HIV makes women even more vulnerable to these kinds of infections. Taking antibiotics has the unwanted effect of wiping out normal flora in our bodies. Antibiotics or antifungals (just another type of antibiotic) tips the balance of good and bad yeast. Candida will grow in abundance when other bacteria and yeasts are depleted. Candida is trying to solve the problem of the imbalance. It is vital to keep a healthy diet of a wide variety of foods that contain natural bacteria and yeasts.* Yogurt is just such a food. It can be used internally and externally, and it is a prime good yeast replacer for our vaginal and intestinal flora. If you've ever used the applicators to insert antifungals into your vagina save them -- they can be filled with yogurt instead!

A study at Long Island Jewish Medical Center showed that "women prone to vaginal yeast infections experienced a threefold decrease in infections when they ate a cup of Lactobacillus acidophilus yogurt daily for six months."(2) The women were so pleased with the improvement that they did not want to stop eating the yogurt when the study wanted them to stop!

I highly recommend making your own yogurt, it's easy and there are some advantages. "While some commercial yogurts are better than others, most do not allow the bacteria to multiply to the extent that you can when you make it at home. The longer you let your yogurt sit a room temperature before refrigerating, the stronger the bacteria cultures will become.... Most commercial yogurts, even those made without gum, gelatin or stabilizers, add milk solids to thicken the yogurt. This makes the yogurt a concentrated food which is more difficult to digest."(3)
(1) Bell, pg. 16
* Susun Weed Workshop, October 1993
(2) Bell, pg. 18
(3) Khalsa, pg. 46


Bell, Brenda, "The hidden world of yogurt," View Magazine, May/June 1994, pg. 16 - 19.

Khalsa, G. S. & Khalsa, P. S., Editors, FOODS for Health and Healing Remedies & Recipes Bases on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, Berkley, CA: KRI Publications/Spiritual Community, 1983.

Konlee, Mark, AIDS Control Diet Sixth Edition, West Allis, WI: Keep Hope Alive, 1994.


Supplies you will need to make yogurt:

Small size: 1 quart milk; use 4 ounces of yogurt
Large size: 2 quart milk; use 8 ounces of yogurt

1. Heating the milk
Place milk in a saucepan. [Preferably glass, enamel or stainless steel, definitely not aluminum.] Heat milk slowly so as not to scorch it. It helps if you have a thermometer, it is important not to boil the milk. Bring the milk to the temperature of 110 degrees F.

2. Adding the starter/yogurt
Have the yogurt or starter ready in a cup and pour some of the warmed milk into the starter and stir into a smooth paste. Continue to add milk to paste, thoroughly blending after each addition, until the cup is nearly full. Stir this mixture gently back into the pan of milk and mix thoroughly.

3. Incubation
You can leave the milk in saucepan, covered, or pour it into a sterile jar with a lid (I use Corning ware with its lid). Place it in a warm, dark place where the temperature can be maintained for approximately 8 hours. A gas oven with only the pilot light on works well. An insulated cooler, or even a cardboard box covered with a blanket will work. Let it sit undisturbed. The temperature must be neither too hot nor too cold, or the yogurt will not form. After 8 hours uncover it without disturbing it, you may remove it and refrigerate, or you can let it sit at room temperature for up to three days to grow a stronger yogurt culture (for more acidophilus in your yogurt). The longer it sits the more sour/acidic it will taste, 24 hours is a good amount of time before refridgerating.

With goat's milk you will have a more liquid yogurt because the protein to fat ratio is different that cow's milk. Goat milk also has more natural inhibitors to coagulation.


Some of you may not like the taste of yogurt, yet know it is a healthy food and would like to be able to eat it. I thought I would give some ideas to help out with this. The way I usually disguise yogurt is to make it into a shake. You need a blender to make this. My favorite recipe is called a WEIGHT GAIN SHAKE:

1 ripe banana and/or 1 cup fruit of choice that is in season
1 cup plain yogurt (desirable brands include Nancy's, Brown Cow)
1 - 2 TBSP ground up flax seeds OR flax seed oil (the seeds are cheaper and a whole food)
1 - 2 TBSP ground up Milk Thistle seeds (nutritive for liver)
1 - 2 TBSP blackstrap molasses or honey or real maple syrup
1 - 2 TBSP raw sesame butter, other nut butter OR 1 cup ground up raw organic nuts
2 TBSP of a high quality protein powder (contains free form amino acids) OPTIONAL
Add liquid to thin out (goat milk, cow milk, rice dream, almond milk, soy milk, or juice). Blend all together.

I suggest you experiment with this recipe. Mixing in the sesame butter and molasses gives it an almost chocolate like quality. The sesame butter adds additional calcium, the molasses is loaded with iron. Almost any fruit can be used, I've decided I like banana best, but peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries (berries are all blood builders - organic best for any type of berry), pears, etc. could all be added in. Experiment! Use organic milk and yogurt from farms not using rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone). Drink each day.

Mango Lassi: 2 cups plain yogurt, 2 medium mangoes (very ripe), 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, 6 ice cubes (from filtered water), 1/8 teaspoon rose water.
Peel and slice mangoes. Put all ingredients in the blender and blend at high speed. Serves 4 - 6.

Yogurt Cheese: Use 1 quart plain yogurt. Line a fine-mesh colander with a double-thick piece of cheesecloth. Place yogurt on top of cheesecloth and place colander over bowl (the bowl must be as large as the colander because the yogurt will be dripping liquid). Allow yogurt to drip at least 6 hours (overnight or up to 12 hours). At end of time, what's left in cheeseclothe will be thick, luscious, Yogurt Cheese.
Use in place of cream cheese. If you want to make a flavored cream cheese, mix in your favorite flavoring (such as fresh chives, dill, chili peppers, pimentos, or other combinations) either after your cheese has been made or beforehand. Fruit-flavors can also be used. Again experiment to make it suits your taste.

Cool and Creamy Cucumber Salad can be made using 1 1/2 cups of Yogurt Cheese, 3 cucumbers, peeled, and diced, 1 clove of garlic minced, 1 TSBP extra-virgin olive oil, 2 TSBP fresh lemon juice, sea salt and pepper to tast. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Garlic & Herb Yogurt Cheese can be made using 1 1/2 cups of Yogurt Cheese, 1 TSBP fresh thyme (or 1 TSP dried), 1 TSBP minced fresh parsley, 1 1/2 TSP minced garlic, 1 TSP black pepper, 1 TSP chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 TSP dried).

Middle East Yogurt Cheese can be made using 1 1/2 cups of Yogurt Cheese, 1/4 cup and 2 TSBP chopped radishs, 1/4 cup and 2 TSBP chopped cucumber, 2 TSBP minced red onion, 1 TSBP raisons chopped, 1 TSBP mint leaves (fresh), 1 TSP grated lemon peel.

South-of-the-Border Spread can be made using 4 cups yogurt (1 quart), 1 can pitted olives, sliced, 2 teaspoons chili powder, Salsa. Mix brine of sliced olives and sliced olives into yogurt and spicing. Then hang as for Yogurt Cheese (see recipe above) for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Unmold onto serving platter and pour salsa over it. Serve with corn chips.
Raita - Cucumber and Yogurt Salad: 2 large cucumbers grated or sliced in rounds, an amount of yogurt equal to cucumbers (1 cup to 1 cup, etc.), 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 - 1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped (optional).
Mix cucumbers and yogurt. In a hot, cast iron skillet, toast cumin seeds without oil until brown. Stir briskly to prevent burning. Pound the toasted seeds in a mortar and pestle and stir into the cucumbers and yogurt along with the mint. Serve cold as an accompaniment to curries. Serves 4 - 6.


Traditionally known as hsi-fan or "rice water," congee is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It is a thin porridge or gruel consisting of a handful of rice simmered in 5 - 6 times the amount of water. Other grains such as millet, or spelt can also be used. Cook the rice and water in a covered pot 4 - 6 hours on warm, or use the lowest setting possible; a crockpot works well for congees. It is better to use too much water than too little, and it is said that the longer congee cooks, the more "powerful" it becomes.

Healing Properties: The simple rice soup is easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and the qi energy, harmonizes the digestion, and is demulcent, cooling and nourishing.
Other therapeutic properties may be added to the congee by cooking appropriate vegetables, grains, herbs or meats in the rice water. Since the rice itself strengthens the spleen-pancreas digestive center, other foods added to a rice congee become more completely assimilated, and their properties are therefore enhanced.
I will list several additions, out of many, and their specific effects:

YOGURT AND HONEY: Beneficial to heart and lungs
GINGER: Warming and antiseptic to viscera; used for deficient cold digestive weakness: diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting, and indigestion.
LEEK: Warming to viscera; good for chronic diarrhea.
POPPY SEED: Relieves vomiting and benefits large intestine.
SWEET RICE: Demulcent; used for diarrhea, vomiting, and indigestion.
TARO ROOT: Nutritious; aids the stomach; builds blood.
[Congee recipe adapted from Healing with Whole Foods Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition, By Paul Pitchford]

Sesame Yogurt Dressing: Blend until smooth and serve: 4 sprigs parsley,
1 stalk celery (chopped), 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1/4 small onion (chopped), 1 clove garlic (sliced), 1/2 cup raw sesame oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice,
1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 cup yogurt. Makes about 3 cups. Use on salads.

Yogurt Banana Split: 1 banana (split lengthwise), 3 different types of fruit (diced separately), 1 cup plain yogurt, fruit or carob syrup, Chopped nuts, Wheat germ.
Split banana in half lengthwise and place in long, shallow dish. Dice 3 different kinds of fruit and pile them in 3 separate mounds between banana slices. Pour yogurt on top of fruit and cover with fruit or carob syrup, sprinkle with nuts and wheat germ.

Yogurt Curry

1 cup basmati rice
3 cups chopped mixed vegetables
1/4 cup minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup ghee *
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed yogi tea spices**
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon oregano seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup garbanzo flour

Rinse the rice ten add 3 cups water and bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Steam chopped mixed vegetables until firm but tender. Blend yogurt and garbanzo flour with 1 cup water until smooth. Sauté spices in ghee (*to make ghee, simmer sweet butter for 10 minutes over a medium heat. Regular salted butter can be used if sweet butter isn't available but it is not as good. Then after it has set for a few minutes remove all the white foam from the top. Clear yellow ghee will be left. Pour this into a container, not allowing any white sediment at the bottom of the pan to slide in. Use as you would butter or cooking oil.) until golden brown. Add chopped onion, garlic and ginger. Cook slowly until onions are almost falling apart. Stir in yogurt-flour mixture. Simmer until sauce thickens. Serve over rice and steamed vegetables. Serves 4.
**Yogi tea spices are now available pre-mixed, in small packages or in bulk in stores where Indian spices are sold. (contains: cloves, cardamon, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger root).

Not-As-Rich-As-You-Think Pie

1 cup commercial carob chips
1 1/4 cups finely chopped nuts (cashews, almonds, or pecans preferred)
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 cup fruit-flavored yogurt
1 cup Yogurt Cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated skim milk, chilled in freezer 1 1/2 - 2 hours
finely chopped or shaved carob chips or candy bar

Put mixing bowl and electric mixer blades in freezer the day before preparing: the can of evaporated skim milk, 2 hours before. Melt commercial carob chips in top of a double boiler. Mix in next 2 ingredients thoroughly. Press mixture into a 9" pie pan and put in freezer. In the meantime, whip next 3 ingredients together in a bowl till thoroughly mixed. Next, whip evaporated milk. (In order to whip evaporated milk, the can of skim milk must bi chilled in the freezer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and the whipper and bowl must be chilled in the freezer starting the night before. Whip with electric mixer till about tripled in volume. Fold gently into yogurt mixture and pour into frozen pie crust. Return to freezer or refrigerator to chill. Just before serving, sprinkle with carob chips or shavings from carob bar. makes one 9" pie.

Yogurt Cheese Dessert

1 Cup Yogurt Cheese
1/4 Cup Honey
1Teaspoon rose water
1/4 Teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash nutmeg
Few Saffron threads (optional)
Finely chopped almonds or pistachios

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and stir together well. Push this mixture through a very fine sieve (tea strainer-sized mesh) so mixture becomes silky smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours before serving.
To serve, divide up into fourths and place the tiny scoop in small dessert bowls. Sprinkle each scoop with a few strands of saffron (if you want to, and if you can find it) and very finely chopped nuts. Makes 4 servings (this is very rich and it's hard to eat much!).

Chicken Pilau

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
5 teaspoons garlic, minced
5 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1-2 green chilies, seeded and minced
2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seed, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups onion, sliced
1 whole green chili
3 1-inch sticks cinnamon
24 whole peppercorns
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 whole cardamoms
1 pound potatoes, cubed
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
4 cups water
2 1/4 cups basmati rice

1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, ginger, minced green chilies, tomatoes, cruched cumin seeds, lemon juice and yogurt.
2. In a large saucepan, heat oil and saute onion, whole green chili, cinnamon, peppercorns, whole cumin seeds and cardamoms, stirring frequently, until onions are soft. Add chicken mixture. Mix well and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add potatoes, salt, cilantro and water. Stir well, cover and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover partially and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until rice is done.

Yogurt Chutney

1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1-2 green chilies, seeded
1/8 teaspoon salt
1cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Blend cilantro, chilies and salt into a smooth paste.
2. Add yogurt and mix to a smooth consistency. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with cumin and black pepper just before serving.

Cinnamon Raison Raita

2 cups plain yogurt
Dash of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons golden raisons, finely chopped
Dash ground cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon sweetner (sugar suggested - I would substitute smaller amount of honey if it tasted like it needed this extra sweetness)

Whey is the clear liquid that separates out from the yogurt. It is slightly laxative and very good for the kidneys. It contains helpful bacteria which are good for the intestines. Whey is also high in minerals and a source of protein. For children it is helpful in developing the long bones of the body. Use it in smoothies, to make soup, oatmeal, or in any place where you can add a nutritional liquid.

Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information that is not meant to be used to replace medical treatment and your own intuitive sense of your body and what it needs. Please see your medical provider (Dr., Naturopath, Acupuncturist, etc.) to follow up on suggestions.