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!

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My eternal quest to make a non-pizza that tastes like pizza.

I’ve actually got a couple of things to share.  Some recipes for non-pizza pizza and pictures of poop.  I’ll save the latter for the end so you don’t leave before you finish reading the post.

First, pizza.  I really like pizza, but find that the stuff that tastes the best is typically pretty unhealthy.  Believe it or not, there was once a time that I would sit down with a medium or large Papa John’s pizza and eat almost all of it.  And then I dipped the crusts in that delicious garlic butter.  And if dared, I’d eat the banana pepper (which I call “pepperoncinis,” but apparently that’s not what Subway calls them).   Those days are long gone, but I still really like pizza. Thus my quest to find some sort of satisfying substitute for pizza.  Because quite frankly, I just can’t eat this, like, ever. (I know, I always tell people “Everything in moderation” but I often can’t bring myself to eat even this kind of stuff).

First up, the most pizza-like non-pizza pizza.  Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough with Trader Joe’s Marinara Sauce (which is absolutely amazing if you’ve never had it) and part skim mozzarella OR 2% milk cheese.  If I have veggies around or already cut up, I’ll throw them on, otherwise, that’s it.  Since I only use about half the package of cheese ($3.99 at TJs) I figure the whole thing is less than $5.  Be sure to bring your Pam and Patience though because the dough can be tricky and really likes to stick to the bottom of the pan (if anyone has suggestions as to how to prevent this, I’m open to any and all suggestions).

(I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of this, I guess I will have to make this for dinner again soon).

Second up, if I’m really desparate, I will make what I call “Bread Pizza.”  This is simply a slice or two of bread (either OrowheatDouble Fiber or Light 100% Wheat), put some TJs marinara on it and sprinkle a little cheese over the top.  Put it under the broiler for 3 minutes (approximately) and viola! Pizza.

(again, no picture.)

Third, I’ve found this stuff called “socca”.  This site has a lot of socca variations, but I like to keep it simple.  Equal parts garbanzo flour and water (sometimes I’ll use a little more water, like 1 1/2 or 2 times the amount of flour), salt and a little seasoning (I love rosemary).  Let the batter sit while your oven/pan heat up. Pre-heat your oven and stick an 8″ round pan (metal only) that is sprayed with cooking spray in a 450 degree oven.  Once the oven is pre-heated (or about 10 minutes), pull the pan out and pour your batter into it.  It will sizzle a little.  Put it back into the oven.  Bake for about 10-20 minutes (it depends on how thick your batter is) and viola, a round piece of dough-ish stuff.  I usually invert the pan onto a cookie sheet (like you would do for an upside-down cake) and then put toppings on it (TJs marinara, veggies, cheese, etc.) and put it back in the oven for a few minutes.  Viola! Pizza.   I love the texture of socca and the flavor is really versitile.  I also love the fiber and protein that are packed in garbanzo flour.  I found Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo flour at PCC for like $2.50.   There is also Certified Gluten Free G-bean flour, but it’s at least twice as expensive.

Last but not least, my latest non-pizza pizza discovery, from Foods of April.  I modified a couple of things, but was really excited about the result.

  • 2 c diced, peeled eggplant,
  • 2 scoops of TJs Soy Protein (plain),
  • 3 egg whites,
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal,
  • fresh basil leaves,
  • one clove of garlic,
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt

Put it all in the food processor and turn it on.  It processed for a couple of minutes (I wanted to make sure it was all combined) and spread it out (kinda thin) onto a cooking-spray greased cookie sheet.  I put it in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes, and then removed it, added some TJs marinara sauce, a little ham, some leftover roasted veggies and a Laughing Cow wedge (good idea, April!) and viola! Pizza!!!!

After I ate half of the pizza, Brian and me decided to take Lil’ G for a walk around the hood.

(By the way, she is more of a breadstick/crust girl)

Guess what we found?

If you can’t tell what that is, it’s a giant BEAR turd.  Yep, I can’t think of any other animal whose poop would look like that.  Plus, we saw the paw prints in the grass (we think it walked through the construction dust of one of the new houses being built).  Crazy!!

Gertie kept trying to sniff/eat the poop.  It was gross.  Almost as gross as me posting a picture of bear poop on my website.