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Get me to the Greek

July 29, 2011

Greek yogurt has been getting lots of hype these days. Even the big guys like Dannon and Yoplait are recognizing the growing consumer interest and are now offering their own varieties of Greek yogurt. What’s so good about Greek yogurt? For starters, it’s got a creamy and thick consistency so it’s handy as a base for sauces or as a replacement for sour cream. It contains twice as much protein as regular yogurt and plain milk, so it keeps you full longer and does all the other great stuff that foods high in protein d0, like help with muscle recovery and cell growth. It also has less carbohydrates (~7g in plain Greek yogurt vs. 15-16g in regular) and it’s lower in lactose so it’s easier for your body to digest. If you are watching your sodium and/or sugar intake,then you should consider switching to Greek yogurt as it’s lower in both and is still high in calcium and active bacteria cultures which aid in digestion. All in all, it’s a great healthy food item to incorporate in your diet.

I’ve been a Greek yogurt convert for a couple of years now, but it was not until recently that I ventured on a soul-searching path to find my favorite flavor/brand. Today I’ll share my opinions of 4 Greek yogurt brands: Chobani, Stoneyfield, Fage and Trader Joe’s. Everyone’s taste buds are different, so I don’t expect you to completely agree with the below statements, and encourage you to try out as many varieties as you can to find the ones you enjoy most.

Chobani Review

I tried every flavor of the Chobani Fat Free yogurt, and I have to say my favorite ones are vanilla (It’s not too sweet and has just a touch of flavor which is not overpowering. It’s also the lowest calorie vanilla flavored option I could find, with 120 calories per 6 oz.) and lemon (It feels like I am eating dessert and I have not found this flavor offered by any other brand of Greek Yogurt).

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From the Chobani website, I got the following nutritional information:

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· Only natural ingredients. Free of preservatives and artificial flavors.
· Free of synthetic growth hormones. (Milk from cows not treated with rBST)
· Includes 5 live & active cultures, including 3 probiotics.
· Made with real fruit.

Pros:

  • Tastes closest to the regular yogurt, so if you are new to Greek Yogurt this is a good one to start with
  • Wide variety of flavors available
  • 6oz single-serve containers while all others are 5.3oz

Cons:

  • Calorie-to-protein ratio is not as good as others
  • High in sugar

Oikos Review

Since my preference is to choose organic, especially when it comes to dairy, I eagerly picked up Oikos blueberry, strawberry and honey 5.3 oz containers. The fruit ones were pretty unremarkable to my taste buds. I also noticed that the yogurt was closest in resemblance to sour cream (texture and even taste). The honey one I liked the most. It was 120 calories which is the lowest calorie honey-flavored Greek yogurt I could find, and just like Chobani’s vanilla, it had the right level of sweetness. 

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Pros:

  • Organic
  • Better calorie to protein ratio (20 calories lower & about the same protein as Chobani)
  • Offers chocolate and caramel 4oz options (I have not personally tried it, but the chocoholic in me is curious to have some as a dessert)

Cons:

  • Still high in sugar
  • Highest sodium level
  • Least favorite for flavor and consistency

Fage Review

Fage decided to differentiate themselves by keeping the fruit jelly in a separate container from the plain yogurt and let the customer mix the two themselves. Frankly, I don’t see the point of this. It’s not like I am going to think “wow, I am eating freshly-made yogurt!” Instead it turned out to be a giant mess as the yogurt portion is too small to mix the fruit around well, so it starts to spill over, especially when I add the Uncle Sam cereal topping. That said, their yogurt is the thickest and creamiest of all, and it’s by far my favorite plain fat-free yogurt.

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They also think you should feel good buying their stuff because:

Energy

FAGE looks for forms of energy that are less polluting of the environment.

Waste

FAGE sets an internal waste goal far more stringent than industry standards.

Recycling

Because we believe recycling is one solution to the global problem of solid waste, FAGE employs several different forms of recycling by collecting all secondary paper packaging and wooden pallets for recycling.

Water Conservation

FAGE strives to save water throughout all our facilities.

Natural Ingredients

FAGE Total uses only 100% natural ingredients. This means using only whole milk and cream supplied from rBGH-free* cows.

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Pros:

  • Best plain fat-free yogurt
  • Lowest sodium level
  • The fruit mixins use combination of fruits so the flavor is quite unique

Cons:

  • The container is too small and the mixing of the fruit jelly tends to be messy
  • Highest in sugar (since they give you big serving of fruit mixins but you have a choice of how much or little to use)

Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt Review

Trader Joe’s is a Greek yogurt heaven and they offer many varieties of their own brand. I decided to try Pomegranate and Blueberry 5.3oz each. These were the only two that had the fruit already mixed in (not at the bottom or in a separate container), but were the least sweet which is expected since they have less sugar than the other ones I tried. The pomegranate was only 110 calories and 14g of protein, the highest ratio among the contenders. It had a weird after-taste though, so I am not sure I’d go with either one again.

 

Trader Joe's Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt PomegranateTrader Joe's Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt, Blueberry

(I did not have my own photos of the Trader Joe’s brand, but luckily goodguide.com and livestrong.com came to the rescue)

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Pros:

  • Lower sugar and calories, high protein
  • Cheapest, unless you find the other brands on sale

Cons:

  • Not as sweet,
  • Leaves weird aftertaste

In conclusion, since I never eat yogurt just on it’s own and mostly use it as a base to Overnight Oats, or top it off with granola, berries, cereal, etc, I decided that my best bet is to make my own vanilla flavored yogurt by adding 1tsp of Vanilla extract and 2 stevia packets to a large container of Fage Plain Non-fat.

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This gives me the creamy and rich texture of Fage Total that I love while keeping the calories and sugar on the low side. I can get the perfect balance, with just a touch of vanilla flavor the way I like it. Perfection!

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[Jane Asks]: What’s your favorite yogurt flavor/brand?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2011 2:07 pm

    To be honest, I usually just get what Greek Yogurt is on sale. But I do love TJ and Chobani the best! Great reviews!!

  2. July 30, 2011 2:28 pm

    Greek yogurt is the best in all its versions :-)!!

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