Whole Living Daily

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Yogurt, Step 1: Sunflower/ Pumpkin Seed Milk; Food Allergy Recipe Challenge #23

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I’ve been working on a homemade yogurt recipe for weeks.  Ever since Barbara requested I create a dairy-free, soy-free version.  Rice milk yogurt and coconut milk yogurt are not readily available if you don’t live near a Whole Foods, and they can be expensive. Yet, yogurt is a key ingredient in low-fat baking.  So I set out to make my own allergy-friendly yogurt.  After all, I remember my father made homemade yogurt when I was growing up. How hard could it be?

1 of 3

1 These are the raw pumpkin seeds.

2 Submerge and soak them in water at room temperature for 8 hours.

3 Once you've drained the seeds, put them in a blender, adding water. When the mixture is strained, you have pumpkin seed milk!

Almost as hard as the Matzo Balls that are still eluding me. That’s how hard. But I’m getting there. There have been many challenges to this recipe. First, I’ve devised the recipe assuming that one doesn’t have access to rice milk yogurt (Ricera) or coconut milk yogurt (So Delicious) from the store (the original impetus for making it at home!), which means you can’t use that yogurt as a “starter.” In other words, you have to grow your own yogurt culture from scratch. But it needs to be allergy-friendly (i.e., dairy-free, soy-free). That eliminates using a “yogurt starter”, which all seem to include some form of dairy. This left me with only one option: refrigerated allergy-friendly probiotics. Thankfully, Jarrow makes an Allergen-Free Jarro-Dophilus!

Making Vegan Milk
The next challenge was the type of vegan milk used. I tried store-bought rice milk. No go. I tried store-bought rice milk with hemp seeds added (yogurt seems to need protein and carbohydrates to grow). That worked a tiny bit, but tasted gross. Then I tried rice milk with a little rice protein powder added. It tasted like, well… like protein powder, and it didn’t really thicken. I tried using coconut milk. Again it didn’t work. I tried using hemp milk. Nope. And then, I finally realized that most of the vegan yogurt recipes out there rely on homemade cashew milk. Great… except, I can’t use nuts. This is an allergy-friendly recipe.

So this left me back at the drawing board. Until I realized I could make my own seed milk. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are both mild, and protein rich. One of the two just might work. So, I set about making homemade seed milk. Read on below to learn how to make your own “Sunflower/Pumpkin Seed Milk” and come back next week to see if either of them worked to make yogurt!

Sunflower/Pumpkin Seed Milk

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • water
  1. Place seeds in a bowl.  Cover with water to soak, being sure to completely submerge them, with at least an inch of water to cover. Soak at room temperature 8 hours.
  2. Drain seeds. Discard soaking water. Add seeds to blender.
  3. Fill with water to 4 cup mark.  Blend to liquefy.  It will take a few rounds.
  4. Place a strainer or sieve over a bowl and pour seed milk through gradually, using a wooden spoon or spatula to coax out all the liquid.  Press down on the seed pulp, pressing every last drop of liquid through the strainer. Discard pulp.
  5. Keep seed milk tightly covered in the fridge until ready to use. Sweeten with a little sweetener of choice if you wish. Come back next week to see if it makes yogurt!

Sunflower/Pumpkin Seed Milk
© 2010 by Cybele Pascal

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

Cybele Pascal is the award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook." She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam, sons Lennon and Monte, and their dogs, Izzie and Carly (who also has food allergies). Please visit her website at CybelePascal.com.

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Comments (19)

  • Though we're near a Whole Foods I miss plain unsweetened yogurt for Tzatziki, can't wait for your next post!

  • You are brilliant. I can say that with authority since I have a batch of homemade pumpkin milk in the yogurt machine right now. What a hoot! And, you're right, using rice protein powder makes it taste like, um, rice protein powder but it makes a great thickener for homemade sorbet (as if anyone ever needs an excuse to eat an ice cream like product, right?)

  • That looks amazing. Something so whole and plain and simple is so fulfilling to look at and enjoy. The symmetry and shapes of nature are so divers. Great photography, such a simple looking bowl of health.

  • Just an update, to let you all know, I think I prefer the sunflower seed milk. I've tried both now. Laurel, let us know what happens. I don't have a yogurt machine, so am doing it with a crock pot. I'll be back with yogurt recipe on Monday!



  • You poor thing, well at least everyone has a crockpot or twelve. I know I got 6 of them at my wedding shower LOL. If the pumpkin flavor's too strong maybe I can use it in pumpkin cinnamon rolls; which by the way just happens to be my request for Thanksgiving. Overnight pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They're all over the internet and making me gaga.

  • Whoops, forgot. I was wondering if yogurt would work with oat milk? I can't do oats myself but it might work. Thanks for trying the hemp milk you saved me from having to eat another batch of nasty yogurt by myself.

  • Cybele,
    This is Brittany. I would love for you to come up with a tomato free, gluten free, dairy free sauce for lasagna. I've been dying for lasagna for the longest time, but haven't been able to come up with anything since dairy based sauces are out as are tomato sauces. Thanks so much!

  • Hi!
    Can you recommend a good dairy-free chocolate shake. Being lactose intolerant, I should know better than to drink chocolate shakes, but I have always loved them. They are increasingly hating me! After a horrible time today, I need to find a substitute. But don't know where to start. Thanks for any help you can provide!

  • I second Brittany's suggestion. I can't do tomatoes or bell peppers or dairy and have been trying to figure out lasagne. I only get as far as seasoned spinach with milk alternative and a possible ground beef layer; it's okay but nothing to write home about.
    Also on the yogurt front I know yours was perfect because mine came out and I neither soaked the pumpkin seeds nor discarded the ocara because sometimes I like a nice thick texture rather than a completely silky yogurt. I also added the juice of one lime and some agave nectar and vanilla, it's quite nice.

  • Hi Tina:

    Can you make them at home with a Magic Bullet? I'd just rec making them yourself with rice milk (or soy milk if you can tolerate soy) and some non dairy chocolate ice cream. I'm a fan of Good Karma Rice Divine and Temp Living Harvest "ice creams". I also like the coconut milk ice creams. Give a shot in your blender, food processor, or magic bullet. Hope that helps! ALso could add a little Ah!laska non-dairy chocolate syrup. http://www.ahlaska.com/



  • Thanks, it definitely helps! I don't have a Magic Bullet (don't know what that is) but I do have a blender, so I'll try it. Thanks again!

  • [...] Allergy Recipe Challenges so far. It’s been kind of thrilling working through the obstacles (see last weeks post ), and I’m so happy to have learned a new skill. I’m a perpetual student (I spent 22 years in [...]

  • [...] cup rice milk (or hemp milk, or try my Sunflower Seed Milk [...]

  • I tried to make the sunflower seed yogurt this past week. I had a little extra milk that I'd thickened that did not fit in the yogurt maker. After the yogurt was done, I left it in the fridge for an extra day. It tasted tangy like yogurt, but the thickness was no different from the little extra that didn't get made in to yogurt. :( Any ideas why it didn't work?

    Thanks so much for the recipe in the first place! We're DF/SF as of about a month, so you've gotten me started on all kinds of things! I actually just made Navy Bean Milk after having read your post and doing some more research online! :) I may even try to make my own non-soy tofu one of these days. It's all kind of a fun science experiment!

  • How does it taste in coffee or tea? I am thinking of trying this as an alternative to the almond milk I make..

  • hey, What is your cardsapp brand number? thanks

  • [...] wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2010/11/dairy-free-soy-free-yogurt-step-1-sunflower-pumpkin-seed-mi... [...]

  • [...] And other sites: Sunflower/Pumpkin Seed Milk [...]

  • [...] Pumpkin-seed milk: wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2010/11/dairy-free-soy-free-yogurt-step-1-sunflower-pumpkin-seed-mi... [...]

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