Choosing Yogurt Cultures

Taking a few teaspoons of store-bought yogurt to use as a starter for your home-made yogurt is easy, but once you check out the carbs in the fruit-on-the-bottom kind, you begin to think about your carb budget and the logic of eat store-bought. Dannon Fruit-on-the-bottom peach yogurt has 170 calories in a 6-oz cup (not bad, but not much of a breakfast), and 28 grams of carbs, according to the Webstie myfitnesspal,  most of them sugars, which means you are not feeling all that full and will be starving by 10 a.m.

I’ve been making my own yogurt, and flavoring it with simple, natural flavors like vanilla, lemon or orange zest (from our own fruit trees), nutmeg or cardamom. They don’t add any calories and lots of flavors. Best of all, because our yogurt maker has individual cups, we can have a selection of low-carb, flavored yogurts. Add chopped nuts or fresh fruit, and you have a breakfast that lasts and tastes good, too.

As we use the same culture, I did get tired of the tangy flavor. I like a creamy, firm yogurt, and that requires a longer stay in the yogurt maker. But the longer time also results in a tangier finish. My taste-testing wife went on the hunt for yogurt cultures online and found a company that had a big variety of organic, natural, probiotic cultures.

downloadBecause we live in Phoenix, and it was over 90 degrees this week, we had to order quickly. Yogurt cultures are live and won’t survive our summer heat, so we ordered several types:

–A creamy, mild yogurt. This one can’t be used as a starter, but it comes in an eight-pack. (One pack makes eight, six-ounce servings).

–A thin, slightly tangy yogurt that can be used as salad dressings and smoothies. (Smoothies are another diet deception. A Fruit Fusion smoother from Smoothie King packs 355 calories and 76 grams of carbs in a 20-ounce drink. Making your own from fresh fruit, ice, and yogurt gives you a snack you can smile about.)

I was thinking of a great Green Goddess dressing with yogurt and avocado, or a homemade Bleu Cheese, for those hot summer days coming up.

–A mild Bulgarian yogurt culture that can be used as starter.

I’ll post recipes and tips as I discover them. I’ve already found a diabetic-friendly recipe, but it needs refining.

Here’s how easy it is to make yogurt.

Disclaimers: I did not receive recognition or compensation from any company mentioned in this article. I paid for the yogurt cultures I ordered. I am not a physician or a dietician. I’m a personal chef who is exploring healthy, tasty meals for my family and clients.

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c)  All Rights Reserved, 2013.

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