The magic of yogurt (and other probiotic banter)

Before I start my own rambling, I encourage anyone reading to check out my friend Jessie’s blog. She’s also a registered dietitian but studying to be a certified yoga instructor.  If you live in Seattle, she teaches at the Northgate 24 Hour Fitness.  We’re not only RD friends, but we were roommates in college.  The two sides of our refrigerator could not have looked any more different (mine filled with diet foods, hers filled with a bunch of expensive organic stuff) but we are both passionate about nutrition.

Ok, moving on to yogurt.  I’ve featured it a lot on my blog, mostly mixing it with things like flax and fat free whipped topping and berries and almonds and you get the point.  I love a yogurt from Fred Meyer and QFC (Kroger stores) called “Carbmaster” because it’s low in sugar and has the same nutritional stats (as far as cals, protein, fat, calcium, etc) as other yogurt.  I also love it because it’s regularly on sale for $0.30 or $0.40.

I’m sorry dear Carbmaster, but you’ve been upstaged.  By Fage (which yes, I frequently pronounce FAY-JE) pronounced “FA-YEH” Greek yogurt.  It is thick and creamy and a little tangy and delicious.  The 0% variety has 100 calories, no fat, and 18g protein per 5.3 oz container – it is magical.

(giant Costco sized container)

I discovered the magic of Fage at work.  I get a certain credit worth of free food at work (I know, I’m incredibly lucky) and decided to get one of these little beauties.  I mixed a couple packets of Splenda in with it and have eaten the same thing 2-3 times a day since then.  I wish I were joking.

It reminded me of cream cheese frosting but without the nausea afterwards.  Or maybe like the sugar sweetened dip that people serve with fruit, or the “sauce” on Fruit Pizza (please someone tell me you know what I’m talking about).  It’s glorious, and it keeps me satisfied for hours.

Guess what? I found a combination that keeps me even MORE satisfied.  I do not get hungry for four hours (this is a big deal for me) after eating the above yogurt + Splenda + 1/8-1/4 c SF maple syrup + 2 scoops TJ’s Soy Protein powder.  It has the consistency of cookie dough or cake batter for no more than 250 calories.  I’ve been eating it twice a day, so I’m sure I’ll get sick of it eventually, but for now, I’m in love.

I’ll post some of my other yogurt creations on the recipe page.

Another reason yogurt rocks?  Probiotics! You’ve probably heard tons about them, but probiotics are “good bacteria” that help keep things functioning properly in your intestines.  There has been research to support the use of probiotics in a clinical setting (not acute, but for other patients).  If you decide to buy a pill probiotic, look for something that is in the refrigerator.  This means that the cultures are live and active and will actually work.  I find them in the natural foods section of Fred Meyer in that refrigerator.  They are more costly, but they will work.  You can also find probiotics in yogurt (make sure the label says “contains live active cultures”), refrigerated pickles (look at the label), kombucha, kefir, and other fermented products (like kimchi).  Nancy’s brand yogurt is a particularly good source of live active cultures.

I was buying kombucha at the store for $3/bottle and got tired of spending so much on it.  I really liked the taste (although a lot of people don’t like it, it is kind of vinegar-y.  The dietitians I work with hate it) but again, it just wasn’t worth it.  So, I decided to get on Etsy and buy some Kefir grains.

(The floaties are raisins.  Read my last post if you’re looking for poop)

I chose to buy water kefir grains, but you can also buy milk kefir.  They are really easy to maintain.  I should have killed them about 15 times and they’re still kicking.  It goes a little something like this:

Add kefir grains to jar.  Stir in 1/4 c sugar (I usually use less to keep the calorie count down, but mine don’t replicate as quickly either) and 1/8-1/4 c dried fruit.  Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon.  Let sit for two days (or two weeks if you are me).  Strain your kefir + raisin (now practically grapes), put the liquid into a separate jar to drink later and rinse your kefir grains.  Repeat.

(kefir close up)

This liquid is a little brown because of the raisins.  You can use any kind of fruit, or even use fruit juice instead of sugar water.  The possibilities are really endless, and the more sugar you add the more your kefir will duplicate.  When you get too much (you only need about 1/4 c per batch) you can share with friends!

What other ways do you get your “healthy” bacteria?   What is your favorite kind of yogurt/greek yogurt?  I’ve heard good things about Chobani, but have never had it.  Let me know!