Taking the Artificial out of Yogurt

by Leighann on March 19, 2010

Betty Crocker

Here I am posing next to the original Betty Crocker painting. Image via Flickr.*

In the fall of 2009 I was invited to the General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis to cook in the Betty Crocker Kitchens. Yes, THE Betty Crocker Kitchens.

I tend to be opinionated about products and share my opinions with companies, especially where I see there is room for improvement.

Before flying to Minnesota, I formulated a list of questions and concerns to share with the General Mills folks who I would be interacting with.

Some of my concerns included:

  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in products marketed to kids (YoPlait Kids yogurt)
  • Artificial colors in products marketed to kids (Trix yogurt)
  • Artificial flavors in products marketed to kids (Trix Yogurt)
  • MSG in many of their soups (Progresso)
  • Use of pesticides to grow Green Giant vegetables
  • Inclusion of meat products like chicken or beef broth in items that could easily be made vegetarian (Old El Paso black beans, Progresso Vegetable Soup)

What I wanted to see more of:

  • Expansion of their organic brands like Muir Glen and Cascadian Farm
  • Greater use of whole grains

I try to be an advocate when I really believe in a cause. While some of the other women were busy socializing, I took an exec aside and went line by line through my written list of concerns. I liked some of what I heard, but was also dismayed that change couldn’t come quick enough in these areas.

I learned that Green Giant peas are grown without pesticides. I learned that they were having a slow roll out of Progresso soup formulations that do not contain MSG.

But I was also told that they have to use HFCS in their yogurt because it blends better than granulated sugars. How can this be true if other brands, especially organic, are using evaporated cane juice and the like?

Now I’m not saying that they actually listened to little old me, but I have seen a few of these changes implemented since the trip.

General Mills recently announced a reduction of added sugar to the single digits in all it’s cereals marketed to kids.

And lo and behold, I learned this week that Go-Gurt can now be purchased with, wait for it, wait for it:

  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No artificial colors
  • No artificial flavors

It’s being called Simply Go-Gurt. It has the same number of carbs as the Go-Gurt made with HFCS, 13 grams carbs per serving. Too bad it’s not also antibiotic- and hormone-free.

I have to say that my kids consume A LOT of tube yogurt each week. We pop it in the freezer and they eat it frozen for dessert most nights. And when my daughter packs her lunch I throw in a frozen yogurt tube and it is thawed by lunch time. I would buy the Stonyfield Farm YoKids Squeezers if it weren’t for the fact that they cost twice as much: about $5 per box! I do prefer to buy dairy products free of hormones and antibiotics.

I buy large tubs of vanilla Mountain High Yoghurt or Stonyfield Farm, depending on which grocery store I go to. Of course Stonyfield Farm is organic.

According to Mountain High, their yogurt “is made with pure crystalline fructose, a natural sweetener with a much lower glycemic index than the cane sugars and high fructose corn syrup used in other brands. Those other sweeteners can cause insulin surges even in healthy children and lead to cravings for more sweet foods. Mountain High Yoghurt also contains NO artificial sweeteners, and we use just enough crystalline fructose to make our yoghurts taste great. Our yoghurts contain absolutely NO artificial flavors, colors, or starches, and NO synthetic growth hormones.”

Not long ago my kids tried drinkable yogurt and are addicted. A friend recently told me about Kefir which comes in berry flavors. I may have to refill the Dora drinkable yogurt bottles with Kefir. I also am going to give Greek yogurt a try.

Come back Monday as I tell you how I save a little bit of money buying organic yogurt for my family.

What kinds of yogurt do you feed your family? Is it important that it is free of HFCS, artificial colors, and flavors? What about buying dairy without growth hormones and antibiotics?

Disclosure: I do participate in General Mill’s MyBlogSpark program and write about their products on a parent product review blog I author. They occasionally send me free products or coupons for products. I buy many of their products with my own money and did not receive any sort of compensation for this post. I was not asked to write this post and these opinions are my own. The company did fly me out to Minneapolis at their expense in 2009. Please read the D-Mom Blog disclosure statement.

*Image via Flickr.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tracy Shannon March 19, 2010 at 8:27 am

great info!! I’ll have to look for these yogurts next time we go over to the states. Can I ask where you find most of your grocieres with this stuff? I’m just trying to find the best store for us to find all this good stuff! thanks!

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2 Leighann March 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I usually shop at Schnuck’s or the local IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance). Unfortunately neither store carries *everything* we buy. I get a lot of specialty and vegetarian items, bulk spices, etc.

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3 Reyna March 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

Great post…I usually stick with Stonyfield Farms Yo Kids or their squeezables. I try to avoid HFCS as much as possible. Thanks for advocating for better products for our kids and our society in general. Our current food system needs to change.

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4 Leighann March 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Definitely! We especially need reform in the school lunch system. It would be great if they served less meat, less processed and packaged foods, and more fresh vegetables and fruit.

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5 Jenna March 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

I am so excited about the Simply Go-gurts! My own children and students love the tube yogurts but I don’t since I think eating cotton candy-flavored anything except cotton candy is wrong. For school lunches, we use the tubes. For home, I buy tubs of plain or vanilla non-fat yogurt (brand depending on what is on sale, I love Stonyfield). To make the drink yogurts (that kids love!), I mix some yogurt and milk or soy milk (and pour it into the saved containers).

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6 Leighann March 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I was wondering if the drinkable yogurt could be made by diluting with milk. We’ll have to try that!

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7 Jessica March 19, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I was so excited to see the simply go-gurts. Those organic ones were killing me with the prices. We freeze them also, both for teething babies and popsicle loving preschoolers. Yum. :)
I’ve been very pleased to see the number of kids yogurts that aren’t using HCFS and artificial coloring. As for the Trix… smurf blue yogurt= not ever going to be natural. Oh well.

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8 Leighann March 19, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Smurf blue is right! Since when is food naturally neon colored? I wish organic didn’t have to cost more. I choose organic when I can, but that’s not always possible.

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9 Joanne March 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

You just mentioned ALL my pet peeves about some of the products you buy at the grocery store. I don’t understand why some brands can not use MSG, or HFCS and their products taste just fine, but other companies are so resistant to it. Drives me crazy!

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10 Heidi March 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I think I should buy stock in Stoneyfield, because my kids are being raised on it. They LOVE yogurt. They like the drinkable smoothies at breakfast. Their school lunches often contain YoKids “spoon” yogurt or a tube. I also keep frozen tubes, and like your kids, mine eat one after nearly every nightly meal.

Because it’s expensive, I buy a lot of the YoKids Squeezers when they go on sale and then keep them in the freezer. They will last past their expiration date, if kept frozen.

My husband recently bought the kids Go-Gurt (not something I would have done! ;) ), so we have some in the house right now. The box states, “Made with milk from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH.”

Only one of my three kids likes the ProBugs kefir, but I think the packaging appeals to him more than the taste. The other two won’t touch it.

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11 Leighann March 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

I’ll have to look at the box that we have in the freezer to see if it has that statement about hormones. I was glad to see that Kraft 2% milk cheeses are now made with milk that does not have hormones. They should make ALL their products like that.

Good to know about the kefir. Maybe I’ll buy a small bottle to try it out.

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12 Joanne March 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

Leighann – I’ve made drinkable yogurt using my homemade yogurt recipe (found here: http://www.deathofapancreas.com/2009/07/meal-ideas-homemade-yogurt.html), The yogurt comes out a little thinner than store bought, but I then simmer some fruit (Elise likes bananas and strawberries), add some agave to sweeten it a little, then I use a hand blender to blend the fruit into the yogurt. Elise goes absolutely CRAZY for it, and depending on how much of each ingredient you add, you usually end up with a pretty low carb factor (I come in around .09).

Sorry I don’t have all the measurements for the fruit or agave, I usually just eyeball it (although I do weigh it, so I should just write it down the next time I make it).

Hope this helps!

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13 Jenny March 22, 2010 at 10:42 am

All Yoplait Yogurt Products are now made with milk from cows not treated with rBST .

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14 Shelley March 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for advocating for less processed food. I was very happy to see the simply go-gurts ar my little supermarket.

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15 Danielle June 26, 2012 at 9:39 am

Check out Trader Joe’s for Organic lowfat yogurt tubes for 2.99 a box. No HFCS, no artificial colors, and they have three flavors.

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16 Katy August 19, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Trader Joe’s brand yogurt Squishers are also hormone and antibiotic free – as with all of their Trader Joe’s brand dairy and cheese products.

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17 Leighann August 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for the tip! We don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, but I’ll put these on my shopping list for our next trip.

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18 Sherri September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Thanks so much for posting all this. My son may have ADD, and I want to try modifing his diet before trying medication. Yogart squeezables are a big hit for lunches. It is nice to find some better products.

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