Coconut Yogurt – Three Ingredients – Cook Free

Full view yogust on green plate

My finished yogurt.

Now that I am eating dairy-free due to my recently diagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I’m experimenting this week with making various kinds of coconut non-dairy yogurt.

Yogurt in green bowl

A close up of my newly made non-dairy yogurt.

I began my first test by using a 13.5 oz. can of classic, unsweetened coconut milk. This is a USDA organic, certified Non-GMO and gluten-free type that is also certified as kosher.

Coconut milk on try useThis is my purchased can of coconut milk.

I used the Native Forest brand that I bought at my grocery store (or health food store.)  I was advised in my research to avoid the type with guar gum but for this experiment I used the brand that had the guar gum in it. The total ingredients included; organic coconut, purified water, organic guar gum.

Gelatin on green tray

I bought this gelatin from

I followed the recipe below.

(Recipe by Renee at Raising Generation Nourished at

NOTE: If you are like most Americans and have been on a low-fat diet for years and have never eaten coconut milk before, I suggest that you start slowly with small amounts to work your way up to larger amounts of full fat in your system. Some report nausea when going directly from a low-fat diet to a cup of full fat yogurt but this can be avoided by increasing the coconut milk slowly to adjust your system.

Probiotic synergy in my hand

As well as this probiotic power supplement.

You can begin by adding 1/4 teaspoon of coconut to your smoothie or hot cereal and work your way up from there. That is what I did.

Three ingredients laying down


  1. 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
  2. ½ tsp. quality probiotic powder
  3. 1 tsp.grassfed gelatin (If you want your yogurt more “kefir” consistency (thinner) then you can use half the amount. You could also make the consistency thicker/pudding/custard like consistency with more gelatin. Do not use the cold soluble gelatin as it will not work for this project.


  1. Stir the probiotic power and gelatin into the coconut milk and put a lid on the container. (I used a wide mouth a quart mason jar as that is what I had on hand and clean. The original directions say to use a pint jar which fit this amount perfectly.
  2. Place the jar under the light in your oven (WITHOUT the stove light on) overnight or for 8-12 hours. You can taste for “tang” and if you want more you can leave it in the over for up to 24 hours under the light.
  3. Shake up the jar and place it in the fridge for 2 hours to finish culturing and thickening the yogurt.

This batch ended up being a thin type of yogurt a lot like kefir, but I liked how this tasted. I added a bit of sugar-free jelly to one of the batches for a sugar-free taste of sweetness but I also like it plain as well. This is so easy to make, I will definitely make this again.

Next I’ll be trying my hands at non-dairy DYI yogurt made using homemade coconut milk. Stay tuned!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Testing Gluten-Free Flours

I have been experimenting with various gluten-free flours this week to find something that works for us.

First I bought a Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour to use for biscuits. It could have been the recipes, or me, but they these turned out just so so.  They needed a lot of honey on them in order to get them down. Back to the drawing board on this one.

Then I bought Bob’s Red Mill Coconut flour and Bon’s Red Mill Almond Meal and made blueberry pancakes. Gene and I both liked these and I was rate them very tasty and will definitely make them again.

Coconut Flour pankckes in pan

The texture of these pancakes was finer than my favorite whole wheat pancakes that I used to make but not so much that I could not eat it. Gene and I both enjoyed the mild, slightly sweet coconut flavor of these blueberry coconut pancakes. I will make these again and again.

Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes2

Makes about 16 small pancakes


  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 organic, pastured eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk (raw cow’s or coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons organic, raw grass-fed butter + more for serving
  • pure maple syrup to drizzle (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients: the eggs, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. (If it feels a little dry, add more milk until it reaches the consistency you’re after).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add scoops of batter (about a ¼ cup each) for silver dollar pancakes. Cook for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Slather with butter and drizzle maple syrup as desired.

More experiment to come!

Small House homesteader, Donna


The Small House Homestead Winter – Photo Diary

Pole barn crystal gene USE

Crystal the Rhode Island Red likes to follow us around the homestead.

Our winter thus far has been spent, cooking new gluten-free recipes, doing some deep cleaning inside our home, letting the chickens out to free range with supervision and shoveling snow. Welcome to winter in Michigan!!

This is our week of January 15, 2016. I hope you enjoy the view!

Rhodies and Cochins in dirt USE

Rhodies and Cochin’s alike want to get out of the run no matter the weather.

We shoveled snow away from the door to the covered run so the chicks could scratch and peck. Our girls love their dirt!

Rhodie at pole barn USE

Elsa found a tiny bit of open ground in front of the pole barn door.

We are challenged to find open areas of dirt or leaves to keep the chickens occupied during the long, cold days and out of trouble. Too much time in the coop means chicken squabbles and the lowest chickens in the pecking order seem to be the one who suffer, especially poor Freckles.

If there is a tiny patch of dirt USE

The wondering buddies, Crystal and Elsa.

This was a tiny melted area about the size of a plate near the front of the pole and the girls found it and scratched around satisfying the Rhodies intense drive to dig, scratch and peck.

Crystal and Elsa are wondering buddies. Even when no one else will venture outside in the snow and cold these two avian friends find a way to occupy themselves.

Rhodie at pole barn USE

Posing at the pole barn!

Gene and two chickens USE

Gene and his girls!

Unless there is a terrible snowstorm, we try to get the chickens outside every day, if even for just an hour. Sunlight, fresh air and exercise are good for the girls and helps to keep them busy and occupied too.

Rhoide under forge at buckets USE

When the chicken run gate is open for our morning chores they invariably find their way to the overhand of the forge where there is open dirt and leaves. THIs winter we have stored buckets of bark chips under the forge overhang that we use from time in the chicken coop.

Chicken tracks use

Chickens tracks lead the way to where the girls have been traveling.

I hope you have been having some enjoyable travels too!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Searching for the Best Essential Oil Diffuser

I just completed a webinar called “Essential Oil Transformation” with Dr. Josh Axe, about the many uses of essential oils.

If you have been following me you have read I was recently diagnosed with Hasimotos’ thyroiditis a form of thyroid disease that has an immune system component where the body turns on its own organs.

I’ve been following Dr. Axe who is a doctor of natural medicine, a chiropractor and a nutritionist who practices in Nashville, Tennessee using food supplements and essential oils as food. One of Dr. Axe’s specialties is “leaky gut syndrome” thought to be one of the root causes of Hasimotos’.

As a Reiki energy practitioners, I have long been interested in the healing properties of essential oils, I’ve taken workshops before and use them in my own life; on myself, my dog, my husband and my granddaughter. But with our health issues coming to the forefront, but I realized that I wanted to revisit the topic, learn more and to know the right oils to target for Gene brain issues and my thyroid issues.

When Dr. Axe offered a free one hour essential oils webinar I eagerly tuned in. I have mostly used oils directly on the skin, but after that informative program, I decided I wanted a diffuser for myself.

Oil diffusers are used to direct the aroma and the medicinal properties within the oil, known as aromatherapy. When the valuable essential oils are inhaled, you connect to the life force of the plant and the life force within you. The diffuser allow the essence of the oil to penetrate and harmonize the natural energy of you.

People will sometimes confuse aromatherapy diffuser with humidifiers. Actually, these are two different things. Home humidifiers increase the moisture in the air using a large humidifier that moisturizes the air in large rooms or one that is integrated into the heating system to humidify the entire building or home. They are more often used in dry states in the western United States to add humidity (moisture) to the air, especially in the winter. They are also used in humid climates in the wintertime when the furnace is putting dry air into the house.

Too much humidity can reduce the health benefits of the vital oil components in the diffuser by having too much moisture in the air. A diffuser delivers a micro-fine mist to deliver the healing oil’s essential elements in the area of your choice. Dry air can stuff you up, so the diffuser would help to un-stuff your nose.

My Diffuser Requirements:

  1. I wanted my diffuser to run a long time. I crawl into our water-bed in the early evening, read, do my self-Reiki and then drift off to sleep. So I wanted a diffuser that would go the maximum amount of time.
  2. I wanted a diffuser with an automatic shutoff option that would turn off on its own when it ran out of water.
  3. I’m not crazy about colors in diffusers moving about all night I wanted a diffuser that I could turn off the rotating color options.
  4. I wanted a variable output flow; meaning I can increase or decrease the amount of oils coming directly at me.
  5. Because I am a light sleeper, I want a unit that was quiet.
  6. A 2 year warranty was a bonus for me.

So my search began….If you are looking for a diffuser consider this article:Top 10 Newly Released Essential Oil Diffuser Evaluation Reviews for 2016.

This article really helped me with my decision-making process. If you are looking for a diffuser, this will likely help you as well.

I ended up purchasing the Amir 500 Essential oil diffuser cool mist, ultrasonic/humidifier with four timer settings.

Amir Diffuser

This is the diffuser I choose for my needs.

I choose this model because it has a reservoir that is large enough to hold enough water to run for 10 hours and continue to work a whole night while I am sleeping. I can turn off the colors and just go with white (my preference) it has a timer and will turn itself off when it runs out of water and it is whisper quiet.

Bingo this is the one for me.

Small House homesteader, Donna




A January Thaw Holiday for Chickens

Today our weather was a bit warmer here on the homestead. We invited our chickens to come out of their coop for a reprieve and they headed right to the burn pile we had been working on this week. It was like the chickens were enjoying the thaw!

Gene smiling Elsa looking USE

Crystal on the left, Elsa on the right. Yes, the names are from Frozen…granddaughter named!!

With so many White Oak trees here, we have a lot of fallen branches. I pick them up through the year and toss them into a huge burn pile. The goal is once a year to burn that pile down during the winter. The truth is we don’t get to it but every few years.

Chicken complex blue sky USE

Winter in the coop and covered run.

Earlier this week Gene tried burning this pile down but found the pile was so compactly packed the center would not burn. He then began to rake the pile out a bit in order to make the burning process easier.

2 chickens at burn pile USE

The Rhodies were in heaven in the dirt again today.

The plan is to gather the wood ash when fully cooled and use it in the girls dust bath.

2 Chiciken fluffy buts cute USE

These fluffy butts are just so cute!

The chickens were thrilled to have some bare soil again to scratch and peck in. They went crazy scratching and eating the soil. They seemed to not get enough of it. With the forecast for rain tomorrow followed by snow we took them out both morning and in the afternoon.

Gene raking pile from side USE

Raking out the burn pile left a ring of soil for the chickens to enjoy.

January thaw or chicken spring break?

Small House homesteader, Donna


New Year Challenges

Hello, hello, my friends! Ohhh I have missed you. I feel like I’ve been away for so long! I’ve actually been ‘attempting to write’ for the past few days, but it just. wasn’t. working. Can I admit something? I’m struggling to find my way back after the Christmas break.

Many of us know that life does not always follow “our” plan. No matter how had we work or how well we plan… life often throws us curve ball as we age. Gene and I have been thrown a curve ball this past year, two of them in fact.

27895489-thyroid on chalkboard

Curveball One: My recent diagnosis of Hasimotoe’s.

Hasimotoe’s is a form of thyroid disease; the kind where the immune system turns on the body itself leaving the person feeling exhausted and depleted. On top of that my adrenals have flat lined and need rebuilding. While I am optimistic because I have found a very knowledgeable doctor who uses an integrative approach, it’s hard to not be discouraged when reading this…”For every month you have been ill it takes up to three months to recover.”

I have been on-line researching my health issues and processing the options. I’ve been taking and trying to adjust to swallowing a basket full of supplements to gets my adrenals boosted. I’m working on learning to find recipes and cook in a totally new way and to eat gluten, dairy and sugar free. My plate is overly full right now.

Thyroid in womans neck

Curveball Two: Gene’s memory problems happening at the same time.

This has meant more research on his behalf, more driving to doctor’s appointments and a lot more time talking, thinking and adjusting. Both issues occurring at the same time have been demanding more time and energy than I could have imagined. Especially at a time when my energy level is at its lowest point.

I’ve also found that I am grieving the loss of our dream retirement. I’m not sure why I had this idea that our retirement years would be carefree and fun, but I did. Maybe this idea came from the Florida retirement community advertisements? At any rate, I thought that these would be the childfree years; we would travel, dance, play and generally have a gay old time. Things did not work out that way.

I am sad but I am also trying instead to focus on the many blessings we have. I’m trying to think about gratefulness; Grateful for being alive – grateful for living in a home that is warm and comfortable – grateful to have Medicare and insurance – grateful to have enough.

Small House homesteader, Donna

New Year’s Day on the Homestead

We tend to favor low-key holiday celebrations these days. Our life is quiet, simple we are older and we are tired!

Sweet potatoe soup

A hearty sweet potato, sausage and kale soup to begin the new year.

This year we will enjoy the simple pleasure of walking Sassy, a bit of the NY day parade, watch a good DVD and a great healthy meal. We will likely talk to some of out-of-town relatives as well which is always a bright spot in our day.

I cooked one of my all-time favorite homemade soups this year; Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup that I adapted many years ago from This Organic Life written by Joan Gussow. This is a great book for any beginning gardener and is about Joan and her husband’s life as college professors and urban gardeners in upstate New York. This is my “go to” potluck soup that everyone raves over. This soup is so good it is almost sinful. I do recommend it!

I’m still trying to find away to make tasty gluten-free biscuits. Not there yet.

Bob's New flour

Biscuits before

Experimenting with gluten-free biscuits today.

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup

(Adapted from This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Joan Dye Gussow. This soup was originally a Portuguese tradition.


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chopped onion (about 2 large)

1 teaspoon sea salt (I use just a small pinch)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Rosemary to taste (try ½ to 1 Tablespoon to start)

1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage (or whatever sausage you like)

8 cups coarsely chopped peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds or 6 lg. potatoes)

2 cups of cabbage

5 cups water

4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

I also add 5 or 6 chicken bouillon cubes

1 (16-ounce) package prewashed torn kale

Parsley to taste (I used about two heaping tablespoons)

1 (16-ounce) can cannelloni beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (16 oz. canned tomato) or homegrown/frozen

(I also like to add chunks of cooked/boiled Butternut squash to my soup. (It’s filled with fiber and I love it in my soups.)


  1. Boil sweet potatoes and drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion; sauté 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Remove casings from sausage; add sausage to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned, stirring to crumble.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, 5 cups water, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Gradually add kale; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
  5. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and beans (squash and any other ingredients above)
  6. Transfer to a crock pot and finish cooking and blending all flavors

For our dessert I made my rice pudding. Now that I am on a restricted diet I was looking for a low sugar, gluten-free dessert option.

Rice pudding

Gluten-Free Low Sugar Brown Rice Pudding (my adaptation)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
  • I cook the brown rice ahead of time and then assemble. I cook my rice for about 30 minutes and then let it sit in the pan on the same burner another 15-20 while it continues to slowly cook until soft. Just watch that the water does not fully evaporate and the rice burns. Usually this is not a problem, but just be aware.
  • 2 cups milk, divided (I use 1 to 2 cups of organic Almond milk.)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (I use brown sugar.) I can get by with less sugar because the Craisins are very sweet.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I leave out the salt)
  • This year I added 3/4 cup of fresh pomegranate seed
  • I egg beaten
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins (I use Craisins (dried cranberries) since my husband cannot eat raisins.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (I generally don’t use butter but I bet it would taste wonderful!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract When the dish is assembled, I shake on nutmeg on the top.
  • I add a small package of slivered almonds.
  1. I cook the brown rice up ahead of time.
  2. In a separate bowl assemble all the ingredients except the nutmeg. Mix well.
  3. Spoon into the bowl with lid I am cooking it in.
  4. Sprinkle on the nutmeg
  5. Cook at 325-350 for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and looks cooked around the sides
  6. Serve warm (or you can also eat it cooled.)
  7. Will keep for about 4-6 days.

You can make this simple dessert from start to finish in about 90 minutes.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor too and have an amazing new year!

Small House homesteader, Donna