This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
On one side, I keep hearing about the obesity epidemic that’s sweeping across America. On the other side, it seems like I’m constantly being bombarded with “healthier version of” suggestions in the form of e-newsletters in my inbox, TV segments on some of my favorite talk shows, and of course in magazine pages.
Some of them I take to heart and have adopted, with a slight adjustment period before getting used to them. Over ten years ago, because of high cholesterol, I went from drinking whole milk, 2%, 1%, then finally skim milk, which tasted and looked like cloudy water, so I switched to soy milk. I made the change to almond milk because my fellow novice health nuts said it was healthier. Peer pressure, we meet again.I didn’t bother to research, but my at home one-person taste test concluded that I liked unsweetened vanilla almond milk better than vanilla soy. Runners up are coconut, cashew and almond mixed with with of the two.
Other substitutes were honey and agave for sugar in my tea; quinoa for rice and the wheat versions of bread, pasta and waffles. Each took some getting used to because let’s face it, if it’s good for you, it’s most likely lacking some umph in taste. I stuck with each new sampling mainly because after I purchase something, I do not waste, so I’d better damn well finish the contents of the box or pack. Food isn’t free and money doesn’t grow on trees. That’s right, I used my own father’s words against myself.
One thing that was difficult to conquer was Greek yogurt. I grew up on the smooth, creamy and sweet taste of classic yogurt. Yoplait to be exact. The refrigerators in my parents’, aunts’ and uncles’ houses were stocked with strawberry, strawberry banana, raspberry and cherry Yoplait. I remember being annoyed with myself if I failed to peel back the foil lid without tearing it. It made licking a messier job.
When I decided to take the plunge into the world of Greek yogurt consumption, I asked around for brand suggestions. Fage and Chobani were the popular choices; Fage even more so. The next time I placed a Fresh Direct grocery order, I placed three Fage yogurts in my cart. I’m sure strawberry made the cut. Blueberry acai and cherry were probably the other two.
The first taste shocked my taste buds. I checked the expiration date on the container. It hadn’t expired, so how to explain the bitter taste and the clumpy consistency? The smell didn’t help convince me that it wasn’t rotten dairy. The container said not to stir, which meant the layer of clear liquid was not blended in. After a few spoons I stirred, hoping to improve the taste. It didn’t. The fruit didn’t help much either.
To this day, Greek yogurt still isn’t my favorite, but once I decided to switch from classic to Greek for health benefits, I stuck with it. Every afternoon, I had a 5.3 oz cup of Fage yogurt in assorted flavors. Finishing the whole thing was a struggle. The serving of fruit in the split cup finished long before the yogurt did. When this happened, I quickly shoveled the rest down my throat barely taking a breath to not prolong the situation.
Instead of having Greek yogurt as a separate snack, I purchase it in the larger 32 oz container and include a tablespoon or two in my daily smoothies. I thought I could get away with using plain, but switched over to vanilla or honey-flavored. Greek yogurt as a snack or ingredient in my smoothies is where I draw the line.
Greek yogurt is not mayonnaise. It is not an equal substitute. Adding Greek yogurt to tuna, chicken or pasta salad without at least a dollop of real mayonnaise is gross, no matter how much seasoning I add. While we’re at it, Greek yogurt isn’t a viable substitute for sour cream. I don’t want Greek yogurt in my taco or tomato soup. I understand that it’s a fraction of the fat and calorie content, but it’s also less taste. Not every recipe should have swapped out ingredients. I’ll just eat mayonnaise in moderation and pay attention to portion size.