In Search of the Perfect Yogurt

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I have always been a little bit of a freak about food. I definitely got it from my mom. When I was growing up she always followed the latest health and food trends, and she taught me what was healthy or unhealthy about the foods I ate. As a result, I am a conscious eater, and I aim to eat foods with high nutritional value. I've always taken pride in that.

Then I had kids. Never before these delightful cherubs were born would I even contemplate buying hot dogs or bulk sized jars of peanut butter. Never before would I make grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese and call it "dinner." Now these items are staples in my home: I truly believe my children would be dead, or at least extremely emaciated, if I did not buy them.

That's not all.

The big lunch staple in our home is yogurt. You may be thinking that yogurt is fine, even good for you. But have you seen how much sugar is in a serving of yogurt? The yogurt that I have been buying for my children has between 29 and 34 grams of sugar in a serving, depending upon whether it is vanilla or some other flavor. That is a LOT of sugar, especially considering that my kids, who are 22 and 34 pounds, have multiple servings every day.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been giving them this yogurt thinking, "this can't be good." Yes, they need calcium, but at what price?

So I decided to do a little bit of "yogurt research." Perhaps I've been distracted over the last couple of years due to sheer exhaustion or the crazy shopping sprees I take with my children, but I had no idea how many kinds of yogurt there are. I mean really. Do we need 18 different types? I was not surprised to find that my grocery store carries the basics: regular yogurt, organic varieties, soy, and Greek. But I had no idea that you could also buy sheep, goat and buffalo milk, as well as Scandinavian and whey yogurt! How does one choose?

In the past, I've simply reached for the cheapest large tubs of organic yogurt. On careful examination, though, I found that the best dollar value had the most sugar. Figures, right?

Time to try those 18 different varieties. Recently there has been a lot of publicity on how healthy Greek yogurt is, so I decided to give that a try. The nutritional label certainly looks much improved. Compared to what I was buying before, Greek yogurt has 13 more grams of protein and at least 12 fewer grams of sugar.

I found another yogurt that had all the right health claims as well. It was called Better Whey of Life Yogurt. This yogurt is whey infused. It claims to have three times the protein and 30% less sugar than the average yogurt. Who knew what this would taste like, but I thought it was worth a shot.

I decided to run a little taste test with the vanilla and blueberry flavored Greek yogurt, as well as the Better Whey yogurt. The test, of course, was to see if my kids would eat these yogurts.

I tried the vanilla flavored Greek yogurt first. This was not a good idea. My son cried after the first bite. "This isn't the right yogurt!" he yelled between sobs and tears. He swore off yogurt and refused to eat the rest of his meal.

Damn! It is so hard to get children to eat a healthy meal. I had to agree with him, though. The yogurt was too thick; it was almost the consistency of peanut butter. I felt like had to chug a glass of water while eating it. Moreover, it just wasn't very tasty.

The next day, while my son was at school, I tried the blueberry flavored Greek yogurt on my daughter. Although it had a little more sugar, as I have found all of the non-vanilla flavors do, it was still a much better nutritional bet than what she had been eating before. She liked it! She ate it all and asked for more. Score!

I had one more yogurt to test: the whey yogurt. While my son now refuses to eat any yogurt that is not in a tub that he recognizes, my daughter and I ate the whole thing while standing in the kitchen one afternoon. Delicious. I was happy. I'd found two healthy contenders: flavored Greek and whey infused yogurt. One small nutrition boost in my children's otherwise pathetic diet!

So I returned to the grocery store ready to buy large tubs of blueberry flavored Greek yogurt and strawberry banana flavored Better Whey Yogurt.

There are no large sized tubs of these yogurts.

Sometimes you just can't win.

If I want to provide the best for my children that I can, I have to add unnecessary waste to our landfills. (Yes, they eat enough yogurt that we probably
could make a sizable dent in a landfill just with our empty yogurt containers).

So I bought a few individual tubs of blueberry flavored Greek yogurt and a few individual tubs of Better Whey, for school lunches. I also bought a large tub of that tasteless Greek vanilla, and my regular large tub of strawberry yogurt. I covertly mixed the strawberry and vanilla together and haven't heard a complaint. We will all be fine, unless I am some day caught. Then it will all be over. Not perfect, I know. But it is a step in the right direction. The things a mother will do....

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