Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clean High Protein Greek Yogurt anyone? Kids?

I am an all or none kind of person. I have trouble doing things in
moderation. I do things "full out" as we used to say in my Ukrainian
dancing days or don't do them at all. I'm either obsessed with working out
or completely give it up. When I used to party, I really used to PARTY, and
now I have barely had a drink in 7 years. I go on a diet and I end up
completely changing how I eat and writing a blog about it. Its my blessing
and my curse.
On top - Vanilla high protein Greek yogurt. On bottom - plan, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt.

So what does this have to do with yogurt. Well, when you have kids,
3 kids in 5 years in my case, you have to learn to do things in moderation. Sigh. They move at their own pace, change their minds, and are sometimes totally unreasonable. And they like the comforts of their routines and don't want things just completely changed overnight. So just because I've decided to go 100 percent (maybe 95) cold turkey clean eating, I can't expect them to do the same. Especially when I had let all of our eating habits veer so far away from clean - we had a pretty refined flour, sugar and processed food centered diet. And frankly I didn't, and still don't, know enough about nutrition to just go full out right away - there is a learning process.

So I am gradually changing over their diet and trying to introduce new foods slowly. That's hard for me but its working. Slowly we are chipping away at things and their diets are improving. Their sugar consumption is WAY down. We have reduced their wheat and processed food consumption by 50 percent. Probably more. They are eating way more fruit and vegetables. They aren't running to the kitchen begging for kale smoothies (good thing because they wouldn't find one) but they also don't refuse to eat lots of things they did when we first started this - like a Friendly Frittata.

One of their, and our, staple foods is yogurt. I would love to give up
dairy completely but its just not going to happen. My goal right now is to
limit myself to one serving of yogurt and one of cheese (6 oz) a day - at
the recommendation of my Naturopath. Its good when someone sets a limit for
me - I need boundaries to do things in moderation. The kids would eat as much of the stuff as I would let them and I probably would too.

But regular stirred yogurt has a ton of sugar. Not good for someone trying
to beat a sugar addiction and really not good for anyone except in
moderation. So this is one area where I'm converting us all slowly and I'm using it as an example of how you can also make slow gradual changes to your diet to
either go fully clean eventually or at least clean things up part of the

So this was my "yogurt" journey:
Step 1 - Pre-clean I was eating lots of stirred yogurt. Yum - loved it.
Feeding that sweet tooth and probably a candida overgrowth - keep it coming
Step 2 - Argh - all my clean books say yogurt isn't great, its full of sugar and I need some protein. Better switch to Greek.
Step 3 - Crap - I didn't read the label. No wonder this Greek yogurt tastes
like cheesecake - it has no more protein than stirred yogurt and it has
just as much sugar. I better switch to high protein Greek yogurt.
Step 4 - I don't know why I'm still craving sweets, I gave up milk chocolate -
this is supposed to get easier. Oh no. This stirred high protein Greek yogurt has lots of protein but it still has tons of sugar. Now what.
Step 5 - I better buy some plain, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt like all the books said. 

Great. I was there. No sugar added. One big problem - its TASTES LIKE SOUR CREAM. The kids aren't going to eat this. I'm not going to eat this. 

So here is what I've done:

For me - I add some liquid Stevia and vanilla extract or organic apple butter to my plain, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt to sweeten it up. Then I usually top it with some dried fruit, fresh fruit, cacao nibs, nut butter, coconut, whatever. Or I just use it as a topping for my Chia Pudding. And I treat it like a dessert now not just snack food. 

For the kids - They aren't ready for straight up plain yogurt yet. So instead I am mixing theirs half and half. Either 1/2 stirred regular or stirred Greek yogurt with 1/2 plain unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt. So now they are getting some protein, a lot less sugar and they still like it. They don't even notice the difference. 

Read your label. They both have the same amount of protein but the sweetened version has 2 1/2 times the amount of sugar. You can sweeten it up yourself. The regular sweetened non-Greek version in my fridge has even more sugar than that. 
So some tips on yogurt if you are keeping it in your diet.
  • Costco sells a 3-pack of 500 gram plain, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt for a good price and it has probiotics in it. You can sweeten it like I do or use it in lieu of sour cream and then you are getting some protein;
  • Wherever you buy it, why not buy some with probiotics in it. Jury is still out on whether they really do their job in this form but maybe they do. 
  • Read your labels. The yogurt isle is a confusing place. If you are paying for Greek yogurt make sure it is high protein. It should have 14 - 18 grams of protein per serving. And compare the carbohydrate/sugar on the labels between brands and types.
  • Gradually add the unsweetened kind in with the sweetened kind to let yourself and your kids get used to less sugar. I can't believe how sweet, too sweet, the regular stuff tastes to me now. 

There might eventually be a Step 6 in all of this where I learn to make my own organic yogurt. One of the books I'm reading now even has a recipe for Hemp yogurt but I'm not there yet. And I'm okay with it for now. We are in a lot cleaner place than we were in Step 1. And I have to do some things in moderation.

Hope this helps you skip a couple of those steps.