So, I’ve been into plain yogurt for quite some time. A good friend of mine pretty much steered me in this direction when he returned from a foreign country several years ago and told me he couldn’t eat flavored yogurt anymore. After more than a year of plain-yogurt consumption, he found that the food-colored, artificially flavored kind so popular in the US tasted terrible to him.
It’s kind of funny, if you think about it. For the most part Americans are accustomed to yogurt being served in small single-serving packages, cartoonishly dyed to represent its flavor, with any fruity bits already suspended throughout. (The kind of yogurt with fruit on the bottom that I remember from my youth has seemingly fallen out of favor.) Plain yogurt is hard to come by. It’s usually in prohibitively large containers, and not all brands even bother making it. The thing is, though, plain yogurt is yogurt in its original form.
I think it’s an example of the eternal processed-food conundrum. Some of us may strive to reject chemicals, additives, and preservatives in our food, but we’re often a little grossed out by foods in their natural state. For example, some people don’t like plain yogurt because it’s runny and needs to be stirred. Also, it tastes like yogurt. People who hate plain yogurt are basically saying they like yogurt, but only when its texture, color, and flavor are completely changed.
Well, if you’ve wanted to take some baby steps into the plain yogurt world, look no further than Fage. This is just one brand of Greek style yogurt, but it’s one of the most prominent and readily available. I switched over to Fage recently after languishing in runny plain yogurt-land, and I haven’t looked back. Please note that it can be kind of pricey. I usually wait for it to go on sale at my grocery store, which it does about once a month. What makes Greek style different than what you’re used to is that it is strained. The excess water is removed, which leaves you with a nice creamy yogurt.
I still dress it up with fruit or honey once in a while (and the brand actually makes fruity flavors, with the fruit preserves in a separate compartment), but it hardly needs it. The thick, substantial texture goes a long way towards helping you forget that you’re eating plain yogurt. You don’t quite have to chew it, but it just feels really substantial when you’re eating it. It’s also helped keep me full longer when I’ve eaten it for breakfast than ordinary plain yogurt.
I’m happy to report that it stands up well when you cook with it. I made some homemade macaroni and cheese last week, and mixed in a little Fage yogurt to add something extra to the texture and flavor, and it tasted amazing. And while I’ve yet to try it out myself, but I’ve read that strained plain yogurt can serve as a healthier alternative to sour cream. I’m sure it would also be excellent in dips and sauces.
If you don’t love plain yogurt, but want to give it a fighting chance, Fage or any of its fellow Greek yogurts might be the way to go.