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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Yogurt: Health Food or A Big, Expensive Lie?

It can be either, and the smart eater makes the right choices.

What exactly IS yogurt? An expensive way to drink milk? No, not necessarily. Yogurt, like cheese, is one of the world’s oldest processed foods. Plain yogurt is simply milk which has been heated to kill the microbes, blended with selected bacteria and allowed to ferment.  Yes, it’s more expensive than drinking a glass of milk, but also a lot more interesting. And, for some people, it is easier to digest than milk, as the culture breaks down lactose which can mitigate lactose intolerance.

Frozen Yogurt

What about frozen yogurt? If you’re eating it because it is delicious, that’s fine. But, don’t indulge because you think it’s a health food. Frozen yogurts can be packed with as many calories as ice cream, or contain artificial colors and sweeteners which you may or may not want.

What makes it “Greek”? This yogurt is strained to eliminate some of the whey (liquid) so it is thicker and more concentrated than regular yogurt because it has a higher percentage of milk solids.

Fage lays claim to inventing Greek yogurt in a small shop in Athens in 1926, later growing a significant business in Greece and initiating imports to the United States in 1998. They were one of the first to start manufacturing in Upstate New York, whose dairies are new booming thanks to this craze.

How about those new “Probiotic” yogurts? Activia, for example, contains live cultures known as probiotics. There are health claims that these bacteria help in digestion and these products have a significant following, particularly among people with digestive disorders. Some additional yogurt brands (e.g. Chobani and Oikos) contain probiotics but don’t actively promote it; others do not (e.g. Fage).

Yogurt is incredibly versatile, and there are innumerable dishes around the world made with it. Interestingly, many internet recipes for centuries old dishes now specify using Greek yogurt, a testament to the how wildly popular this relatively new concept has become.

Tzatziki in a Meatball Sandwich on Pita Bread

Some of myMEGusta’s favorite yogurt concoctions are:

Tzatziki – A traditional Greek sauce sauce made with grated cucumber, lemon, dill, used as a dip and in pita sandwiches such as gyros or souvlaki

Cucumber Raita

Raita –A similar Indian dish which is wonderful accompanying hot foods: yogurt with cucumber, with seasonings such as mint, cumin, paprika or cayenne

Lassi – Another treat from India: yogurt blended with fruit, e.g. mango,  with no need for sweetener if the fruit is ripe enough

Mango Lassi

“Fake” crème fraiche – Beat Greek yogurt until smooth and add a sweetener (try agave syrup!) to make a tangy fat-free dessert sauce, e.g. for berries, maybe adding cocoa or other flavorings

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7 thoughts on “Yogurt: Health Food or A Big, Expensive Lie?

  1. Suzanne Brown on said:

    Wish there was a prize for answering the Meyer lemon quiz correctly! Guess, I will find my reward in the Whole Foods produce section. Whenever a recipe calls for a specific lemon or lime..such as Key lime or Meyer lemon, the outcome will not be authentic unless using the correct type of citrus. Same goes for Mangoes and Guavas.

    Thanks for providing the process for Greek yogurt. As soon as I started eating Fage a few years ago, I only buy “Greek.” Chobani is another favorite; both are gluten-free and on my diet.

  2. Good reporting and I learned something new again. I cannot comment about flavor, texture and health benefits because I don’t like yoghurt. I guess it is a hang up going back to mychildhood. I feel quite well and I am in good shape without eating yoghurt.

    • Your correct, I had one years ago, just make sure you use a nraatul yougart, not with any gelatin or sugar in, let your milk come to room temparture and whisk the yourgart in, and the set the cups in the machine, I worked with a Greek chef and all he did was heat the milk to blood temp, add the yougart, and put in teacups, cover it with Saran Wrap and keep it in a warm area overnight, on top of a frig near the back, and after 2 hours in the frig next day it was solid, if you want a firmer product, you will need to add some whole milk or light cream. I like Balkan style and here in Canada with have a product from a dairy called Astro, it is 4% BF and is great as a sour cream substitude.

  3. Anne Tornillo on said:

    I am a big fan of Chobani yogurt and eat it several times a week, but had no idea that it contains probiotics. Had to really hunt for it on the label, but there it was. Thanks!

    • I too heard about Greek yogurt a few years ago and never tried it. Then, last month a co-worker was eaitng some Chobani an it look so good, I decided to give it a try. I haven’t turned back. I love the mango, bananas & strawberry, peaches and strawberry. Yum-O. I can’t wait to read your post.

  4. When making Greek yorugt at home you must use FULL FAT milk- not 2%, not skim. Only the professional machines will allow you to make a good non fat Greek yorugt

  5. My husband is so adcetdid to Chobani. He refuses to eat any other Greek yogurt. Personally, I like them all. And I like buying which ever one is cheaper that given week, and that bounces back and forth between Fage and Chobani. In the end, all that matters is that Greek yogurt rules. Yummy!

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