I didn’t grow up with a lot of dairy products as a kid back in the Philippines. For some reason, we drank powdered whole milk. We certainly didn’t eat much yogurt, so I didn’t develop a taste for it until I went to the Golden Door spa near San Diego. They served plain Greek yogurt with nuts, raisins and wonderful fresh organic berries for breakfast. They would also serve cooked quinoa and chia seeds to mix into it.
Since then, I’ve come to appreciate yogurt and all of the good things it does for you. Here are some good reasons to include some yogurt in your diet:
Healthy gut — Yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease.
Great source of probiotics – The probiotics in yogurt can enhance the immune system and balance the flora in your body. When you take antibiotics, make sure you eat lots of yogurt to keep your digestive system on an even keel and prevent yeast and fungus infections.
Good source of calcium and protein – Calcium is vital for strong and healthy bones. Having enough calcium and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis and loss of bone density as we age. Protein is important for building and repairing tissues.
Healthy heart – Yogurt may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Satisfying – Eating yogurt can make you feel fuller so you don’t give in to eating too much or eating too many empty calories.
The dairy aisle in your typical grocery store is filled with dozens of brands of yogurt, but many of them are loaded with sugar, cereals and even candy, which pretty much defeat the purpose. Look for yogurt with low sugar and fewer ingredients for the healthiest options. Also, look for organic yogurt from grass fed cows. Grass fed cow’s milk is packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. The flavor and texture are superior and the animals enjoy longer, better lives in pastures instead of factory farms.
In the last few years, and especially at the Natural Products Expo, I’ve observed interesting flavors that contain less sugar—even savory varieties! For instance:
Blue Hill yogurt is made from the organic milk of grass fed cows and comes in Sweet Potato, Beet, Carrot, Parsnip, Tomato and Butternut Squash flavors. Think of using these as dips and sauces as well as for healthy snacking.
Dreaming Cow yogurt is distinctive for its cream at the top. Besides plain, this silky, full fat yogurt comes in flavors like Vanilla Agave, Maple Ginger, Strawberry Pomegranate, Honey Pear, Blueberry Cardamom, Dark Cherry Chai and Peach Mango.
Tarté is an Asian-style yogurt that’s made by caramelizing milk and sugar before culturing—a French-Vietnamese technique. The result is a light, sweet tangy taste and creamy texture. Their unique flavors include Green (macha) Tea/Honey, Strawberry Guanabana, Acai/Blueberry, Mango/Coconut and Pomegranate/Goji.
Siggi’s skyr (Icelandic style yogurt) is all natural and made from the milk of grass fed cows raised without hormones. Siggi’s contains very few ingredients and 25 percent less sugar than most yogurts you find at the market. The yogurt is strained to make even the non-fat rich and creamy. It comes in vanilla and berry flavors.
Sohha Savory Yogurt follows the Indian and Mideastern tradition of yogurt without the addition of sugar and fruit. Sohha is made in New York City with only three ingredients: locally sourced milk, probiotic cultures, and sea salt. This yogurt has a super rich, creamy consistency, perfect for adding in ingredients like diced cucumber with lemon and garlic, or toasted pine nuts with a little extra virgin olive oil and poppyseeds. It’s a whole new way to enjoy yogurt!
While the majority of leading yogurt flavors are sweet, the growing popularity of savory flavors is the sign of a new trend in this big category.
Try this recipe from my just published book, The Age Beautifully Cookbook: Exotic Fruit Salad with Yogurt and Granola and you’ll see how I was won over by this delicious breakfast. It’s my own version of the one I enjoyed so much at the Golden Door.
This breakfast or power-packed snack has lots of protein from low fat Greek yogurt and vitamins from the fruits and seeds. You can add spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, allspice and nuts. Instead of the exotic fruits such as fresh jackfruit, jujubes and rambutans (available at Asian markets and some specialty stores or at www.melissas.com) that the recipe calls for, you can always use blackberries, strawberries and bananas.
Exotic Fruit Salad with Yogurt and Granola
Here’s a protein-packed, vitamin-filled way to grab a healthy snack or start your morning. You can add spices, such as nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice (about ⅛ tsp. each), and nuts. Instead of exotic fruits you can use grapes, blackberries, strawberries, and/or bananas. The Omega-3 fatty acids in the flaxseeds are great for your arteries and heart. Oats and fiber are both known to reduce cholesterol. The exotic fruits in this recipe are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps the body resist infection and aids tissue regeneration. The probiotics in yogurt can help digestion and bolster the immune system. Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels.
2 cups oats
⅓ cup maple syrup
½ cup flaxseeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 egg white (organic, free-range, or Omega-3-enriched)
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. maple syrup
½ cup sliced fresh figs
½ cup cubed fresh pineapple
½ cup sliced and seeded jujubes
½ cup sliced fresh jackfruit sections
½ cup peeled, sliced kiwis
½ cup peeled, halved, and seeded rambutans
2 cups plain, low fat Greek yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Make the granola: Toast the oats on a large, rimmed baking sheet for 6–10 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Warm the maple syrup in the microwave for 1 minute or until it is thin and runny. Toss with the oats, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and salt.
- Whisk the egg white and fold it into the granola mixture. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the granola to a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Leave any excess liquid behind. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour or until dry and crisp. Cool.
- While the granola is baking, make the dressing: toss the lemon juice with the maple syrup and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
FoodTrients Benefits for This Recipe :
Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.
Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.
Improves mood, memory, and focus.
Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.