Creamy, tangy, slightly sweet, and a hint of salty; full-fat yogurt from pasture raised, grass-fed jersey cows tastes like all the elements of flavor wrapped up with earthiness, as though you can taste the fields and sunshine.
As a fermented food, Yogurt can be a great way to maintain the pre and pro biotic balance in your digestive tract. Fermented milk in the form of yogurt, can be found in cultures around the world, whether cow, sheep, goat or even buffalo. In many of those cultures there is a strong recognition that yogurt is highly beneficial to health and wellness. In India, yogurt with honey is referred to has food for the gods; even the Roman philosopher, Pliny the Elder wrote about the benefit of thickened milk with its agreeable acidity.
From a culinary perspective, yogurt is super versatile, it can be added to a variety of dishes from savory to sweet, and it can be its own stand alone meal, as well as nutritious and satisfying snack. Yogurt can be added to a marinade for meats, the lactic acid helping to break down the protein and acting as a tenderizer. It can be folded into sauces, like curries and lentils. It can be added to baked goods, although, you lose the much of the bacterial good stuff when heated to the point of die-off which is the case with baked goods. It can also be enjoyed as is with a variety of ingredients mixed in and then enjoyed as a type of dip or condiment. One of my favorite savory ways to enjoy yogurt is mixed with cucumber, garlic and dill. For a sweeter snack, mixing it with fresh fruit and seeds makes a great meal.
From a health perspective, the bacteria found in real yogurt are beneficial for your body (emphasis on ‘real’). Dairy yogurt is a great source of complete protein, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Studies suggest that eating ½ c. of fermented food a day, like yogurt, can boost immune function, help regulate blood sugar, decrease digestive issues, and increase bone density. Yogurt is one of the few foods that, if it comes from a quality source like a grass-fed Jersey Cow, contains elements of all key nutrient groups making it an amazing wealth of well-rounded nutrient density. Research also demonstrates that eating yogurt helps balance mental and emotional well-being. This happens partly because of the good bacteria contributing to gut health balance, but also the full range of vitamins and minerals (namely the B’s) lay the foundation for the development of things like glutathione, which contributes to increased antioxidant activity and decreases the potential for mood and neurodegenerative disorders.
So what’s the down side? You have to be a savvy consumer, or all its creamy goodness, precious few of the conventional brands we find on today’s market shelves possess the health qualities that are traditionally found in yogurt. Most conventional brands have a very small bacteria count and contain additives, including sugar, that end up doing more harm than good. It’s best to eat plain yogurt and add your own goodies, and also choose yogurt that is from a quality source and contains nothing but the milk and the bacteria that helped turn it into yogurt. You can also try making your own, which is not really as complicated as it seems and can produce some very delicious and creamy yogurt. Also, if you’re wondering about the current fad of Greek yogurt and whether or not it is ‘better’ for you...it’s actually not. The whey in regular yogurt contains thousands of bacteria; when it is strained off to make thicker yogurt, those bacteria are lost.