In years past, dairy-free concerns circulated almost exclusively around calcium. However, new medical findings have expanded the discussions to include vitamin D, magnesium, protein, and much more. Last year and I predict this year, the buzzword is probiotics.
To clarify, dairy doesn’t provide anything magical on its own in the good bacteria department, not at all. However, dairy is the primary medium used in North America for culturing probiotics. It isn’t hard to find various yogurts, kefirs, and even ice creams that pack in the healthy bacteria, but dairy-free and vegan options are sometimes difficult to locate, are frequently loaded with added sugars, and I seem to have trouble finding options that have a high probiotic count with various strains (most just contain one or two, while healthy gut flora encompasses a wide range of strains).
Recently I proclaimed one brand to be my favorite probiotic drink, and the only one that I would consider adding to my diet because it tastes so good, is low in sugar, and has a good probiotic profile. Well, I’m happy to add Tula’s CocoYo to the healthy gut list as my new favorite probiotic “yogurt.”
Technically CocoYo is described as “a powerful live probiotic coconut pudding made from cultured raw young coconut meat,” but for all practical purposes, I call it dairy-free yogurt. Both my husband and I loved this product, which was nothing short of a miracle (I’m not a big yogurt fan, and he usually only likes the ones loaded with sugar). We actually fought over the jar … but I conceded and let him enjoy the last serving.
CocoYo is dairy-free (and vegan), soy-free, gluten-free, and low in sugar, yet it tastes delightfully sweet. They use a bit of stevia to help with the taste while keeping the sugars low. I’m what you might call a stevia super-taster, and could definitely tell there was stevia in CocoYo … it had a definite flavor, yet, it still worked. Since it is made with coconut, CocoYo is also rich and creamy. We enjoyed the perfect yogurt- and pudding-like texture that wasn’t too thick or too thin.
CocoYo is very high in good bacteria, with each 1/2 cup providing an average of 80 billion CFU probiotics (a lot!) with a good variety of strains (read below on the Kefir). They actually recommend starting with just a tablespoon or two and working your way up, but honestly, we had trouble in limiting a serving to just a tablespoon. That said, this product is not cheap. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad value though, since it is a very high quality food AND a pretty powerful supplement. I would happily shell out a little extra to purchase this product over the competitors.
Tula offers another product line that I know many of you will adore, CocoKefir. Tula’s CocoKefir is as you might expect, a coconut water-based kefir, and it comes in three varieties, Original Young Coconut, Apple Cinnamon, and Citrus.
Kefir is a fermented drink that goes way back in history. Typically it is made with some type of milk, but the technique is used on all types of beverages, including, in this case, coconut water. The result is some pretty powerful tummy-taming probiotics in a drink.
We sampled the Original Young Coconut CocoKefir, and I should disclaim that neither my husband nor I likes coconut water or kefir. This product didn’t really stand a chance with us. I’ve trialed similar products and Tula’s was definitely high quality and good in comparison, but we’ve yet to meet a coconut water drink that we liked. It was just a “medium” issue for us, but if you like coconut water, then I think you will love this effervescent kefir.
Tula’s CocoKefir, like CocoYo, is dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, and low in sugar, but it is also fat-free, and a refreshing beverage, since it is made from 100% raw, young coconut water. CocoKefir contains 30 to 80 billion CFU probiotics per serving (the company says the average at time of consumption is about 35 to 45 billion), which includes the following strains:
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. diacetylactis,
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
- Lactobacillus kefyr
- Klyveromyces marxianus var. marxianus
- Saccharomyces unisporus
Tula’s CocoKefir and CocoYo are sold in natural food stores; you can see their website (below) for retail locations. If it isn’t available in your area, you can order it directly from the company online. They ship throughout the U.S.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, the yogurt alternative and drinks are Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Peanut-Free, Soy-Free, Wheat-Free, Fat-Free (kefir only), and Low Sugar. See the packaging for allergen and manufacturing “may contain” labeling, and contact the manufacturer when severe food allergies are of concern.
For More Product Information: Visit the CocoKefir website at www.cocokefir.com.