How to Flavor Yogurt With Less Sugar
My wife and I have been doing a clean eating exercise the past couple weeks, and though low-fat yogurt is on our approved list, I started wondering about the quality and sugar content of the fruit in the store-bought flavored yogurt we purchased. It was low-fat Greek yogurt from Costco, Kirkland brand. But as I contemplated the nutritional label, I started to wonder how good this stuff really was for me to be eating. Here’s why:
So there are 18 grams of sugar in this 6 ounce container of strawberry Greek yogurt. 18 grams. What does that mean? Well, 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar, so that means that there are 4.5 teaspoons of sugar added to this little cup of yogurt. 4.5 teaspoons! That’s 1.5 tablespoons! Let me put it another way, 67.5 of the 140 calories in this little cup of yogurt come directly from sugar. 48% of the calories are from sugar, not from yogurt, not from fruit, but from sugar. Whoa.
Now you could just eat your yogurt plain and not take in any added sugar at all, but it’s so tangy and unappealing that it would probably never happen in my house. But there is a better way!
I enjoy making homemade jam. My pantry is full of the stuff in all sorts of varying flavors. Strawberry, peach, cherry, huckleberry, raspberry, apricot, even spiced elderberry. Homemade jam always tastes so much better than store bought jam, plus there is the added benefit of knowing the exact quality of everything that goes into it. But homemade jams call for a lot of sugar, and I mean a lot. That’s because sugar is what actually preserves the jam. But I started wondering if this high sugar content was higher or lower than the sugar content found in the “fruit on the bottom” pool that was in my store-bought yogurt. Let the math calculations begin!
So for my comparison I used the strawberry freezer jam recipe I made out of the Sure-Gel box. It used 4 cups of sugar, and made 5 cups of jam. There are 48 teaspoons in each cup of sugar, so that’s 192 teaspoons of sugar in the recipe. The recipe makes 5 cups of jam. Divide 192 evenly by 5, and you get 38.4 teaspoons of sugar per cup of jam. So, if I split up that cup of jam into teaspoons of measurement (48 teaspoons in a cup), there are 0.8 teaspoons of sugar per teaspoon of jam. That means there is only 20% fruit in the jam, the rest is sugar. That sounds like a lot (which it is), but let’s see how it compares.
Now that I had a baseline unit of measurement (0.8 teaspoons of sugar per teaspoon of jam), I went to work trying to find the optimal balance of yogurt and jam. But as I was just about to start, I realized something. The Kirkland yogurt cup was 6 ounces. But if I pulled out the “fruit on the bottom” from the container, there was really only about 5 ounces of yogurt in the container. As such, I measured out 5 ounces of plain Greek yogurt for my flavor mixing tests.
In taking plain yogurt and mixing in my own homemade jam, I found it had a brighter yogurt taste, a better color, and a better strawberry flavor than the store-bought stuff, which in comparison tasted fake and unnatural with more of a gelatin-like mouth feel to it. My “home flavored” batch had just as many strawberry bits, if not more, than the Kirkland stuff, and just felt much better on the tongue. This was a much more desirable yogurt experience, so much so that I tossed the store-bought stuff in the trash. But how did the sugar content compare?
Well, for me, I found that the optimal amount of homemade strawberry freezer jam for 5 ounces of plain Greek yogurt was 4 teaspoons. At 0.8 teaspoons of sugar per teaspoon of jam, that is 3.2 teaspoons of sugar (12.8 grams) of sugar versus 4.5 teaspoons (18 grams) in the Kirkland stuff. That’s a big difference! Especially when the American Heart Association recommends that women only eat 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, men only 9 teaspoons. But heck, you could mix in 5 teaspoons if you wanted and still be less sugar than the store-bought stuff!
Want another perk of flavoring your own yogurt? It’s cheaper. Plain yogurt is always less expensive than pre-flavored yogurt. And homemade jam is pretty dang cheap to make (at least if you grow your own fruit/berries to make it with).
So, flavoring your own yogurt at home is a pretty smart thing to do. It tastes better, you know exactly the quality of the ingredients that go into things, it has much less sugar, and is cheaper to buy. Winning all around, so give it a try.
Of course, if you want to really go the extra mile, you could just mix in some fresh blueberries and a little honey to be all natural, tasty, and healthy. Either way, why buy the pre-flavored yogurt sugar bombs anymore?
The Bald Gourmet reduces sugar intake by flavoring yogurt at home.
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