Friday, February 20, 2009

The Fine Art Of Yogurt Pairing

I don't make yogurt from scratch. I've tried it, but found that the cost/benefit ratio of making it, given the varieties easily available to me, isn't worth it. Plus, somehow mine does not taste as good as the stuff I can buy.

Let me be clear...I don't mean Dannon yogurt. In nosying around google search, I found documents where Dannon says it's only gluten free yogurt is the plain. While not a consideration for everyone...I gotta ask...why the hell put gluten in yogurt...or any of the other crap that's not needed?

ANY yogurt eaten should contain...and ONLY contain...milk and bacteria. One kind I eat regularly has milk powder, too, but I count that as milk without the water. But that's it. No sugar. No corn syrup. No aspartame. No cornstarch, fructose, gelatin, malic acid, phosphates (are you kidding me??? phosphates???) and other stuff that's derived from other real food that are whole...but the stuff isn't. It's chemically processed. It's not nessary. And, the biggest affront of all: it makes for an inferior tasting product. What the heck is wrong with these cheaterly thickened, sweet milk, fake, yogurtlike stuff producers?

Rant over.

The bacteria that digest the milk into yogurt for us are our friends. They break down the unhappier elements of dairy that so many want to avoid and help us grow a happy intestinal tract with all their little lactobacillus glory. I love the way my daughter put it..."Mom..I love eating my bacteria poo every morning." ...the circle of life....


There are tons of different kinds of (non-Dannon) yogurts. I only buy nonsweetened, plain yogurt. Why? Because the sweetened kinds, even the healthy ones, are too sweet for me. Definitely too sweet for my morning meal.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about yogurt, eventually figuring out and discovering the Art Of Yogurt Pairing. These days I always have three kinds of plain yogurt in my fridge, available for different kinds of dishes.

Nancy's Organic Plain Non-Fat Yogurt

I tend to buy non-fat yogurt, not because of the fat content issue, but of the protein content one. If you look at the labels, you'll find that buying nonfat amps the protein by a factor of two, usually more. It's also tangier, if you want that. I, obviously, do.

You'll notice that Nancy only sells plain, vanilla and a honey yogurt. If she offers fruit, it's in a separate container on top. Nancy is the one who adds the milk powder.

I've been buying her product for over two decades. It used to be the only kind of yogurt I ate. My kids devoured it.

We consumed it in all sorts of ways in addition to simply adding fruits.

Indian food- I find it the best for raita because it's pretty tangy and not too thick. It makes outrageous lassi's. These are yogurt drinks. Put yogurt (1/4 cup or so), water, a drop of honey or maple syrup into a blender. Blend until the consistency you want it, adding more yogurt or water as the case may be for you. Indian restaurants usually add a drop of rose water. Quite yummy, if you ask me, but be careful how much you add. My kids usually put in way too much for my tastes.

Sour Cream replacement...if you are one who thinks the fats in sour cream are not what you want to put in your body but love the taste, adding yogurt instead totally changes that for you. You can still have the taste of the cream but instead of adding tons of fat, you are adding indesputable goodness. I have used it in my Gillette's Grandma's World Famous Sour Cream Coffee Cake (which has been dubbed the best coffee cake in the world by more than one person fortunate enough to have tasted/gluttoned on it and which may or may not be shared here as it's a closely guarded family secret ).

It is great for breakfast with puffed corn or rice, almonds and honey. Just add ingredients and sludgify.

It sill remains my favorite pairing for bananas, coconut and almonds. Or pineapple, coconut and almonds. The tangies complement the sweetnesses. No additional sugars are needed.

Nancy's is the ONLY variety to perfectly pair with my absolutely favorite way to eat yogurt these days: Grapefruit And Avocado Salad. Will share that recipe tomorrow.

So, as I mentioned that I used to only eat Nancy's. This was until the arrival of Trader's Joes in my life. We lurve Trader's Joe's for all sorts of reasons, one of which is these products:

Trader Joe's Plain Organic Non-Fat Yogurt

It's the best one for berries and berries are why I buy it. It's actually in a white container with the same cow, but I could not find an online pic. It's pretty bland, without the tang of Nancy's. It's runnier than I tend to like my yogurt, kind of like Pavel's Russian Yogurt, which I like but is not available at TJ's. But it's perfection for Blueberries and/or any other sort of berries. I always add nuts to my fruit/yogurt mixes. Because it's yummy-er. And because of the health benefits of adding a fat to counteract the sugars of the dairy and fruit high glycemic response. I find walnuts to be the best nut pairing for the berries. If I want things sweeter, for some reason I always use Stevia as the sweetener of choice for these berry/yogurt concoctions. And always cinnamon (again...aside from the yum factor it helps with the insulin response).

It's a good one for the raita, too, especially if you want it more saucy.

Trader Joe's Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

I got introduced to Greek Yogurt in Greece. It was Fage. OMG!!! Heaven...peaches and full fat fage on a boat at harbor in the Medterranian. It was sublime, creamy goodness.

I got home and Good Ole Fage wasn't around much in these parts, yet. It also costs an arm and a $5+ for a small container.

Then when TJ's came to town, I saw that they carried not only it, but their own, expensive-but-still-relatively-cheap-to-the-Fage Greek Yogurt. The picture on the right was pilfered from this blog. And the price is still pretty steep as you can see. But to this hedonist, it's money well spent.

This stuff is amazing. Greeks definitely have their yogurt down. If you put it on a fork, it sticks to it. Plus, if you buy the non-fat, it's got tons of protein.

I use this for treats. Like on top of my non-wheat crepes with fruits. And my Cooked Fruit Desserts. It's not as tangy as Nancy's, not as bland as TJ's cow stuff above. A dab is amazing on black beans, rice and salsa as a sour cream replacement. In fact, these days, if I use yogurt as a sour cream replacement, I use this stuff as it's more like sour cream than the Nancy's.

I usually have at least two containers in my fridge at all times for yogurt emergencies. Beyond yum.

And it's also fantatic all by its lonesome right outa the container. Or with peaches on a sailboat in any lake close to where you are.

I'm sure there are tons of new yogurt pairings to be discovered and explored. Would love anyone who comes by to share their favorite yogurt experiences.

Be well and give great thanks for the little bacteria.

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