One of the BEST ways to start your day!

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Hello friends! I wanted to let you in on my latest healthy find, and give you some info about why it’s my new favorite thing to eat in the morning. Now before I tell you what it is, you have to promise not to say, “EW” and stop reading. You have to keep on reading to get in on this because it’s delicious as well as healthy, I promise! Ok, so here we go, my latest new yummy thing is… plain Greek yogurt. Wait, wait, wait, let me explain. Because I agree with you, plain yogurt is, well, sour. However, I turned plain yogurt into a yummy beginning of the day dish so keep the faith my readers, I’ll get you there too!

Here’s how this whole Greek yogurt thing started with me. I’ve been reading for years about yogurt, in particular Greek yogurt, and how great it is for you. I mean, it is loaded with probiotics which helps to promote a healthy gut and immune system among many other things, it’s higher in calcium than a glass of milk which gives us strong bones and teeth, it has a high satiety rating, meaning that it makes us feel SATISFIED longer which helps us eat less, so it is good for weight loss. Greek yogurt is 30% protein which is great for our muscles, and it’s relatively bland flavor makes it a perfect vehicle for different dishes.

Greek yogurt is by far a better choice than regular yogurt because it has more protein, less natural sugar (about 4 grams in Greek yogurt versus 7 grams in regular), lower carbohydrates per cup, less lactose so it’s easier to digest, and a thicker, smoother texture that helps us feel more satisfied. That’s because Greek yogurt is strained to remove the whey. When whey is removed, so is the water, resulting in a thicker, more substantial yogurt product.

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HOWEVER, and this is a big however, most yogurt products out there, whether Greek or regular, are NOT A HEALTHY CHOICE FOR US. Most yogurts sold at US grocery stores are more of a dessert than a health food. This was my constant problem with yogurt. For years, I would go to the grocery store peruse the yogurt aisle and the backs of the containers of yogurt (remember it’s critically important to read your labels in the grocery store before you make your buying decisions), and be appalled at how much sugar is in these small containers of yogurt. For instance, one six ounce container of Yoplait yogurt may contain 26 grams of sugar (for the red raspberry flavor). General Mills announced last year it would reduce the amount of sugar in their yogurts by 25%, but even so their yogurt products will still have close to 20 grams of sugar in one container.

This amount of sugar would negate the health benefits that the yogurt would provide. Remember to have a healthy gut it is important to avoid sugar as it can cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial gut flora. Other problems with yogurt is that it can contain artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and additives, yet it masquerades as health food.

Another really important point is to eat full fat yogurt, as opposed to low or no fat versions, because low or no fat yogurt does not contain the same levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) or other high quality fats like the omega 3’s found in most whole milk yogurt. Let me tell you why that’s important, CLA helps prevent cancer and aids in weight loss too! Also, vitamins A and D, which are critical to metabolism and good immunity, are fat soluble. So you need to ingest them with fat in order for your body to absorb them.

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There are very few yogurts on the market that make FULL FAT plain Greek varieties with no added sugar, artificial flavors or sweeteners. There are only two that I know of-Fage and Wallaby Organic. However, I’ve read that Fage could possibly come from cows fed with GMO feed. I think that for me though the full fat option is the most important benefit, so I have chosen to use this brand because it’s readily available in most grocery stores. It contains only Grade A Pasteurized milk and cream, and Live active yogurt cultures (L. bulgaricus, S. thermophiles, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casel). That’s all it contains. It has 220 calories per cup, with 25% RDA of calcium, 20 grams of protein, and only 9 grams of naturally occurring sugar.

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Now to the fun part, how did I make it into something that tasted delicious without adding a lot of sugar or calories?!!! The answer came to me one morning when I was searching for something to eat that was full of protein and not too caloric. My S.O. had a container of Fage plain full fat yogurt in the fridge. I looked at the protein level and saw that it had 20 grams per cup and only 9 grams of sugar and I was sold. The challenge was to find something to pair with the yogurt that wasn’t too sugary and would make the plain yogurt taste good. The answer was sitting in a jar right in front of me- peanut butter! I looked at the plain yogurt and I looked at the peanut butter and I thought, “what the heck, let’s try it!” And it was AWESOME! It tasted sweet- but it wasn’t, creamy, and had a wonderful texture. The peanut butter only added 1 additional gram of sugar, and just like that it became my new go-to morning meal. Here’s how I did it:

Take a cup of Fage full fat yogurt, add a teaspoon of peanut butter, and a few shakes of organic cinnamon and mix it all together. Eat immediately. It has 283 calories, 22.3 grams of protein, 10 grams of sugar, 11 grams of fat (and remember that fat is GOOD FOR YOU)and 25% of your calcium for the day. It will keep you full and satisfied. In fact, I usually make a cup of this and then only eat half of it, and store the rest in the fridge for the next day. It is a healthy and delicious way to start your day, I promise!

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And that’s all there is to it! I hope you’re now a believer about plain, full fat Greek yogurt, like I am now. You really can add anything to it, but remember to watch the sugar of whatever you’re adding to keep it really healthy. Since it has a flavor like sour cream you can also use it wherever you would use sour cream, because it’s a lot healthier. Eating plain, full fat Greek yogurt will help you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

 

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