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Yogurt adventure

11 March 2009 1,235 views No Comment

I know it might sound boring, but I eat pretty much the same thing every morning before work. On the weekends I am all about eggs benedict or pancakes or biscuits and gravy, but during the week I eat yogurt and granola with maybe some berries mixed in during the summer. I guess it’s not insanely exciting, but it’s quick, easy, and fairly healthy.

A couple weeks ago, I didn’t make it to the Saturday market and never made it downtown during the week either. I was fine for lunch and dinner because I had plenty of vegetables from the week before, there was still some meat in the freezer, and my pantry was stocked with rice and pasta. I think I picked up some oranges from Whole Foods one afternoon, so I did have some fruit around, too. But breakfast was a different story. A couple mornings I stole some cereal from my roommate, but I was never a big cereal fan and I didn’t really like it. I still had granola, so then I tried eating the granola with milk, but it just wasn’t the same.

Towards the end of the week, I went to the gym in the morning and decided to pick up a bagel on my way home with the $2 in cash I had. But when I got near my little corner cafe, I realized I didn’t feel like wasting all the hard work I had just put in at the gym on a bagel. So I stopped by the grocery store and picked up two containers of yogurt to eat with my granola.

I should have gone for the bagel.

I hadn’t realized that I haven’t eaten commercially made yogurt since I’ve been going to the Greenmarket for almost a year. I bought a basic vanilla yogurt and, sure, it was at the lower end of the price scale at 75 cents, but it was shudder worthy. Really thick and disgustingly sweet. I felt like I was eating a tub of frosting.

I glanced at the ingredients label and realized that there were about three times as many ingredients as my farmers market yogurt, and I didn’t know what a few of them were.

1 serving (170g) of Vanilla Axelrod brand yogurt contains:
Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk
Whey Protein Concentrate
Modified Food starch
Fructose
Whey
Vanilla Extract
Natural Flavors
Carrageenan
Pectin
Aspartame
Potassium Sorbate (to preserve freshness)
Citric acid

I’m not sure why many of these ingredients are even in my yogurt, much less how to define them. I looked up carrageenan and discovered that it is some sort of carbohydrate derived from red seaweed that is used as a fairly common thickening agent. I guess that’s why my spoon could practically stand up on its own in the yogurt. One of its other uses is as a personal lubricant… Yummy.

1 Tub (16oz) of Cranberry Yogurt from Tonjes Farm Dairy contains:
Pasteurized Whole Cows’ Milk
Cranberries
Maple Syrup
Active Yogurt Cultures

Now that is an ingredient list that doesn’t frighten me. Four ingredients? Actual fruit? Maple syrup as sweetener rather than a controversial artificial sweetener? Yes, please!

I probably sound slightly psychotic for attacking what is commonly thought to be a health food. I guess I should feel good that people are eating yogurt rather than Pop Tarts or Toaster Strudels. And, of course, not everyone can find locally made yogurt. But, I don’t know… I feel like we’re being cheated.

Not to get all Martha Stewart on you, but you could make your own yogurt…

I promise homemade yogurt is worth it! An exciting adventure, if you will! The taste is a major improvement over the sickly sweet stuff at the grocery store. It has more of a tang to it, and you get to skip the artificial sweeteners, additives, and other unpronounceable ingredients. Plus, you have the option to make it with cow, goat, or sheep’s milk, if you need those options for dietary reasons.

I have a great book called “The Home Creamery” by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley that gives step-by-step instructions on how to make your own yogurt. All it takes is milk and yogurt starter, which you can get from a cheese-making supply house (online) or from using commercially made yogurt with live cultures. It only involves about 20 minutes of actual work and then the yogurt incubates for a few hours. In fact, you might have so much fun that you’ll find yourself doing crazy things like contemplating making your own cheese or butter or buttermilk!

Who knew breakfast could be so much fun?! (Or at least for nerds like me…)

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