Yogurt – Not just a Yoda parody

First and foremost, this isn’t a “how to make yogurt” post, mainly because I’ve never made it from scratch.  This post, however, is about the yogurt 99% of you eat: The stuff from the store.  Lately yogurt has become the “in thing” and not only do you have the normal everyday stuff, you have things like Activia and Danactive on TV all the time with their advertisements.  So, in this post I’m gonna go through a couple of things:

  1. Why the “usual” yogurt is pretty fake.
  2. Why you don’t need to pay for “specialty” yogurts.
  3. Why you should just buy plain yogurt.

Sounds like a blast, right?  Well, just remember, you should learn something every day and today it looks like it’ll be yogurt.  Let’s get crackin’!

1.  Why the “usual” yogurt is pretty fake.

Yogurt, in the traditional sense, is milk that has been cultured with different bacterias that change the flavor, consistency and nutrition.  Pretty simple, right?  Wrong.  It turns out that most yogurts sold on store shelves have a bit more than milk and bacteria.  Example… this is what is in Yoplait Original – Harvest Peach yogurt:

Cultured Pastuerized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Peaches, Modified Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Kosher Gelatin, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phospate, Pectin, Colored with Annatto Exrtract, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3

Here’s a second, Dannon Activia – Vanilla:

Cultured Grade A Reduced Fat Milk, Fructose Syrup, Sugar, Contains Less than 1% of Fructose, Whey Protein Concentrate, Corn Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid

If you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot more than the few ingredients required,” then you hit the nail right on the head.  The issue is that most people who like yogurt grew up eating the stuff that was made using all sorts of fillers and stabilizers and such to give the yogurt the flavor and texture that it has.  It turns out most “traditional” yogurt doesn’t have that texture.  Of course, there is a way to have your yogurt and not have all the added stuff:  Buy Greek Yogurt.  Most Greek yogurts on the market don’t have any fillers because they are thick, due to having the moisture taken out of them.  An example, Chobani Greek Yogurt – Plain:

Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk.

A second, just so you can see what’s in the flavored version, here is Chobani Greek Yogurt – Peach (to compare to the Yoplait Peach):

Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Evaporated Cane Juice, Peaches, Locust Bean Gum, Pectin, Natural Flavor.

That’s it.  Really… just the requirements.  For me, if I have the choice between 6 ingredients and 14 ingredients to get me to the same product (peach yogurt), I’m gonna go for the 6.


May the schwartz be with you! Wait, wrong Yogurt...

2.  Why you don’t need to pay for “specialty” yogurts.

This week my little sister was visiting she mentioned to me that she had been buying Activia because it had “Bifidus Regularis” in it so it would make her stomach feel better.  It was at this point I felt the need to explain to her what that actually was.  You see, Dannon figured out an awesome marketing tactic: Take something that everyone uses, give it a new name, then have your commercials say you’re the only one who has it.  It’s as if KFC declared their chicken breed to be “Chicken Tastius” and only they use it.  Don’t take it from me, take it from them:

What is Bifidus Regularis™?
Bifidus Regularis™ is the marketing name of the natural probiotic culture in Activia® and Activia Light that has been clinically proven to survive passage through the digestive system, arriving into the large intestine as a live culture. Activia® and Activia Light with Bifidus Regularis™ are proven to help with slow intestinal transit. The scientific name of the Bifidus Regularis is Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010.

As well as:

Why is L. casei Immunitas® unique?
There are many L. casei culture strains, some already present in human intestinal flora. First identified in 1919, L. casei strains are used in a number of dairy products worldwide. The L. casei Immunitas® culture in DanActive is a proprietary strain that can only be found in Dannon’s DanActive. L. casei Immunitas® is the “fanciful” trademarked name for the L. casei culture that is only found in DanActive. This strain was selected by Danone Vitapole, Danone’s international research center.

Pretty much everyone who puts L. casei in their product uses their own strain.  The company Yakult Honsha in Japan uses the L. casei Shirota strain to do the same thing that Dannon does.  So what’s the issue here?  Well, you’re both paying a premium for these products as well as getting all the extra fillers.  Going back to Chobani (only because it’s what I happen to buy):

Probiotics aid the gut by increasing the number of helpful bacteria, and inhibiting harmful bacteria, and may strengthen the body’s immune response.  […]  And just in case you’re wondering, yes Chobani Greek Yogurt does contain “good bacteria.” Each cup has three unique strains of probiotcs:

1. L. Casei
2. L. Acidophilus
3. Bifidus

Well, look at that!  They have their own unique strains, too!  Not only that, but both L. Casei and Bifidus are in their product together.  Yep, you don’t need to buy two yogurts for the same effect.


I tell ya, marketing departments should get more credit, they're sneaky!

3.  Why you should just buy plain yogurt.

Most yogurts come in the usual flavors like peach, blueberry, etc.  That’s all fine and well, but why should you have to let the yogurt company choose your flavor?  I’ve started buying interesting preserves, like golden plum, pear calamondine, fig and others and just mixing them in myself.


I doubt most of you have ever had these flavors in a yogurt, have ya?

Not only does it help you control the amount of sugar and such that you have (as you get to add it to taste), but it also allows you to get creative.  Fig yogurt is heavenly.  Seriously.  I usually buy preserves/jams/etc from the Farmer’s Market and use it in my yogurt.  By doing this I’m both supporting a very local business as well as getting flavors I usually wouldn’t (fyi, you can get some of these from Twin Oaks Farm online).  This morning I decided to have Pear Calamondine with a splash of my homemade vanilla extract…


Much tastier than the random stuff you could buy already mixed.

Doesn’t that look much better than the stuff you get already put together?  Seriously, give it a try!  Next I’m gonna try to make my own, as I have access to a local dairy farm and I’ve been wanting to try for a bit.  Have any of you ever made your own?  Do you have your own favorite things to do with yogurt?

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17 Responses to Yogurt – Not just a Yoda parody

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Yogurt - Not just a Yoda parody: (pretty tasty, too) -- Topsy.com

  2. Renai Renai says:

    I live and breathe Nancy’s plain whole milk yogurt. It’s sour and thick and so wonderful. I either add frozen raspberries and nuts, homemade preserves, or honey and walnuts. Perfect.

  3. Jason Kelley Jason says:

    @Renai – What a good idea! I have a bunch of walnuts and honey sitting in my pantry, I’ll have to give that a try.

  4. I always try to use 0% plain yogurt (I can’t ever find Greek yogurt where I live or I’d use it). I like to substitute sour cream with yogurt as it gives a similar texture and usually has less calories, less carbs, more protein and what not in it. Not to mention I like the tangy taste 🙂

    I also love adding fruit to my yogurt, which makes it a little sweet but not too much 🙂

  5. deeba deeba says:

    I set yogurt at home every alternate day….nothing to it, and yet nothing like it. I love what you’ve done to it here. Gorgeous!!

  6. Pingback: Know Your Food Ingredients | Dr. Mom Online

  7. Gregory Gregory says:

    Jason, I usually just buy whatever yogurt is on sale, but now I think I’ll stick with the Chobani/Greek/Geek yogurt. I picked up a case at Costco and added some granola to mine. Thanks for your articles.

  8. daphnedel daphnedel says:

    great post!

    overall, greek yogurts do seem to be a lot purer. but i’ve noticed that there are also quite a few greek yogurts out there using additives and fillers, too. for kicks recently, i tried a Yoplait greek yogurt (i guess they wanted to jump on the craze too). it was grainy, fully of weird ingredients and tasted absolutely terrible. couldn’t even finish it!

  9. Pingback: Home remedy for yeast infection, is this safe? | Natural Candida Remedy

  10. Cindy Cindy says:

    Fig preserves! Yum!
    As I see it, even the Greek stuff is problematic if the second is sugar (evaporated cane juice or HFCS…whatever). Plain is our friend.
    I recently started a series on me blog of 101 ways to flavor plain yogurt. I’m almost half way through and I haven’t done anything with figs yet! So many possibilites!

  11. Dallas Dallas says:

    Great article! I have greek yogurt every morning with different combinations of nuts, honies, agave nectar, and fruits! Sometimes I even sprinkle in my homemade GF granola. The fig preserves would be delicious, thanks for the tip!

  12. Pingback: Yo, Gurt! | Food Geekery

  13. Ilse Borra Ilse Borra says:

    You are dead wrong! Strains do matter and they can behave differently. And that is a scientific fact!

  14. Jason Kelley Jason says:

    Ilse, I completely agree, but in this case, the strain being used by Dannon is being billed as doing something unique, yet other brands have strains that do the same thing. So in this specific sense, I feel they don’t matter. 🙂

  15. Annemarie de Koning Annemarie de Koning says:

    I feel…. Yeah, that is scientific. I want proof! When I have a yeast infection in my vajayjay I want Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 there, not Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. The latter strain is inferior for vajayjay health, because it doesn’t adapt well in that area.
    They are the same species, yet they behave differently. So stop the extrapolating! If you want those proprietary strains, but not want to pay top dollar you better culture your own.

  16. Jason Kelley Jason says:

    @Annemarie – On one hand I completely agree with you and you got me, there should be scientific proof to back up the claims. The fact that other companies say they also have proprietary cultures that do the same thing (like chobani) leads me to a semi-fair assumption that they’ll work the same way. Now, there is no “proof” listed on their site, but I’m sure someone could do a study to test. Now, if you *really* wanted, you could use those proprietary strains when making your own yogurt.

    On the other hand, you did use the word “vajayjay” and that does make me want to discredit your entire argument. lol

  17. jackie jackie says:

    Will peach yogurt help my yeast infection?

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