Sunday, January 24, 2010

Battle of the Greek Yogurt Titans

When I worked at my first publisher, there was a ritual of eating lunch in the lunchroom with other people from the books for young readers department. I was from marketing, and joined by several from editorial and design. Later, we had one from subrights join our little lunch group. All in all, we were at most, a group of six. Being a frugal group, usually we brought our lunch from home rather than going out and spending $10 on a sandwich.

We usually spent our lunch break talking about food. Things we liked, didn't like, new restaurants opening, bars, etc. However, the one food item that we kept returning to was yogurt. We debated the pros and cons of different brands, styles, fat content, flavors, and even which grocery stores were having sales on our favorites. Yeah, we were really keen on yogurt. Sorta weird, really.

After a while, we realized we were spending so much time talking about a yogurt and it became an inside joke. One particular lunch, the only male in our group and non-yogurt eater, suddenly interrupted yet another yogurt conversation with an, "OMG! Can't we talk about something other than yogurt?!" My boss at the time also claims that ever time she would come in the lunch room to get coffee, her own lunch, etc., that we were ALWAYS talking about yogurt. She would laugh at us.

So in honor of my yogurt loving-friends, and the people we annoyed, I'm talking about yogurt.

I recently found two new yogurts at my local grocery store. Perhaps these aren't new to other people, but they were new finds in the already well-stocked yogurt section. Greek yogurt has been the rage with yogurt aficionados for some time now. As a member of a group of people who kept up with yogurt trends, I have been aware and a fan of Greek yogurt for long before it went mainstream.

Evidence of how trendy Greek yogurt is now can be seen by two new options. Brown Cow, makers of the best full-fat yogurt out there, has released Brown Cow All Natural Greek Yogurt, 0% fat. And Stonyfield, a personal favorite brand, has Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt by Stonyfield Orangic. Also 0% fat.

I bought both brands last week and did a taste test. Unfortunately, I couldn't compare like flavor to like flavor since the flavors at my store were completely different for the two brands. So I picked the basic vanilla in the Brown Cow and Honey from Stonyfield.

First, the Brown Cow. My first thought was, NO WAY this is nonfat! It's unbelievably creamy, sweet, and rich. It does not in anyway resemble the other nonfat yogurts out there. How did they do that??? Despite the rich mouth feel and taste, it actually doesn't taste anything like Greek yogurt. You know that tang and slightly dry mouth feeling you get from Greek yogurt? Yeah, this doesn't have that at all. This is a Greek yogurt for people who don't like Greek yogurt.

Now the Stonyfield. WOW! The honey does not refer to a honey flavored Greek yogurt, but the honey is ON THE BOTTOM just like fruit on the bottom. Lovely! I mixed it all in and tasted. Mmmmm. Not as creamy and rich as the Brown Cow, but quite good and also doesn't really taste like it's a nonfat yogurt. Has more of the Greek yogurt tang and dry feeling, but not overwhelming so.

I next checked out the labels. Ah yes, the Stonyfield container does say, "Honey on the bottom." Nutritionally, the two yogurts are identical. There are teeny differences between the two, but really, they are close enough to be declared the same. Ingredients in the Brown Cow only number three - milk, cane juice, and vanilla. The Stonyfield has five ingredients, two of which are natural stabilizers. Both yogurts have the same five active cultures. Price was also just about the same, and the amount of yogurt in each single-serve cup is the same, 5.3 oz.

So what's my verdict? I say it's a tie. How anti-climactic, right? Really, they are both very good. I love the Brown Cow because it tastes like it has fat in it and you are getting away with something. Eating something you shouldn't be eating. But I also really like the Stonyfield because it kept that Greek yogurt tang I enjoy so much and honey with Greek yogurt is one of my favorite flavors. According to the websites for each brand, there are five flavors available from Stonyfield and only three from Brown Cow so far.

I will happily buy and eat both. And I probably will for variety's sake because neither brand has many flavors available at my store yet. Brown Cow only has three, and I only saw honey for the Stonyfield. I hope both companies roll out more flavors for these yogurts as they are all going to be good. I just know it.

Other products I have tried recently and really enjoyed are Haagen-Dazs coffee frozen yogurt (I know, more yogurt), and Trader Joe's Peach Mango Orange Juice.

Steve and I were coming home from a movie last Friday night (Crazy Heart. We agreed that the story was rather ordinary, but the acting, music, and Jeff Bridges were fantastic), and as we passed the grocery store on the corner after it had closed for the day, I said, "shoot, we're out of milk." I was going to let this go until Saturday and then go get milk when the grocery store was open. But Steve didn't like this as he was looking forward to a bowl of cereal on Saturday morning. He only eats his cereal on the weekends, so I guess it's a treat. There is a little grocery nearby, so we stopped in there for milk. I found that they carry the best kind of organic milk (Organic Valley, yay!), but I also was suddenly struck with the yen for ice cream. Seeing all those little pints lined up just sang to me. It has been so long since we've had ice cream I can't even remember when it was. Steve immediately picked out Haagen-Dazs banana split. Hm. Not one I would pick out. So I chose Haagen-Dazs dulce de leche frozen yogurt. Or at least, I thought I did. We pay, we leave, we go home, and crack into those pints. COFFEE?? Where did this come from?

Somehow, I picked up the one pint of coffee that was sitting right next to the two stacks of dulce de leche. Oh well, I'm not going back out to exchange it, so may as well eat it. Even though my taste buds were primed for the sweet, caramel-y flavor of dulce de leche, I found that they quite enjoyed the coffee as well. Yum, yum, yum. Tasted just like a Frappachino. Lower in fat and calories than a frapp, I imagine. Try it if you haven't already. It's good.

The other new-to-me product comes from Trader Joe's. As you probably know, I adore Trader Joe's and do most of my shopping there. When we were up in Boston a couple weekends ago, the people we stayed with had Trader Joe's Orange Peach Mango juice. I loved it. I didn't expect to, but I did. I'm usually a traditional fresh squeezed orange juice girl in the morning. I don't like anything else but oj. No apple or grape or cranberry for me in the morning. Just oj. Weeeeeeell, now add the OPM as a morning juice option. I also have enjoyed this juice in the afternoon mixed with some plain seltzer for an Orangina-like drink. Very refreshing and tropical.

Anything new you've tried that you love? Yogurt? Anyone?

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