(ED Note: Back from my vacation folks, and only 3 lbs. up. Lots of walking did the trick. Thanks so much for all of your help and kindnesses, and patience with the slow drizzle of posts…)
I remember yogurt. I remember with fondness my first experience with it. I was a kid. It was the early 1970s, and my Aunt and Uncle hosted an exchange student from Germany. She was a teenager. We were not. We thought she walked on water.
So did Mom, because this teenage German girl introduced us to yogurt. The arrival of the German exchange student seemed to coincide with Dannon’s penetration into grocery stores in our remote part of the country. We were the first kids in our area to not only eat yogurt, but become addicted to it.
This was Dannon’s old product. Real, plain yogurt with sugared fruit on the bottom allowed us to control how much of the fruit we added. Some of us liked to mix it all up right away. Some of us liked to swirl a streak of blueberry or strawberry through the yogurt. Some of us liked to dive to retrieve little bits of the jam from the bottom, and some of us liked just the yogurt, infused with just a hint of the fruit at the bottom.
This real, old form of yogurt did not have a lot of additives at that time. It was not prepared the way much of today’s yogurt is, in a way that sort of crosses it with gelatin and sweetens it uniformly, using high fructose corn syrup. Or stripping it of its fat and then adding sugar. It wasn’t anything like the silly stuff we get in American grocery stores today.
It was yogurt.
We loved it. We loved it too well. We loved it enough to put a dent in our family’s already strained food budget. But Mom didn’t want to discourage our love of yogurt in any way. She understood its value to our bodies. So she learned to make it. Turns out it’s incredibly easy to make. Whole milk, heated to temperature, mixed with a few spoonfuls of the last batch of yogurt, and then poured into a crock, a glass container. She slightly heated the oven, turned it off, put the oven light on, placed the covered crock in it, and left it overnight. 8-10 hours later, a new crock of yogurt had been born.
That was even better than the Dannon. We added our own fruit, preserves, maybe lemon juice and honey. It went over our granola, served up with curries, blended into smoothies, and even cooled sunburns. Our teen magazines had us conditioning our hair and scalps and faces with the stuff, too, although Mom wasn’t quite as keen on that use.
Why eat yogurt? Lots of reasons. The stuff is loaded with the sort of bacteria that make your gutworks work well. It’s a great source of calcium-from-dairy, something we want, particularly when we’re working to lose a bunch of weight or maintain a big weight loss. Recent research suggests that including lots of yogurt in your low-calorie plan helps you lose more weight more quickly, and especially more belly weight, compared with other dieters who control calories alone.
It’s possible to find real yogurt. The good stuff, without too many silly additives, is still offered in health food stores and whole foods markets, or when traveling outside of the States. I recommend a trip to Ireland for great yogurt, for instance. But it’s also always possible, and a good idea, to make your own. A great habit to get into to cut both your budget and packaging consumption.