Move Over, Strawberry, Now There’s a Tomato in Your Yogurt!
Tomato yogurt is a thing? You betcha. You may have noticed the yogurt aisle leaning more savory, with veggie-based yogurts, thick and tangy ethnic yogurts, and sheep’s milk yogurt taking up real estate in the dairy section. These yogurts offer essential protein and are loaded with calcium (good for those of us over 40). Another bonus: When you subtract the fruit, you're not only looking at lower sugar content but endless ways to incorporate the creamy stuff into your dishes. From marinades to toppers, salads and spreads, savory yogurts are a great cooking shortcut, recipe substitute or snack. Here are three brands that are worth taking a closer look at.
Where to Buy: 200+ stores, including select Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, and gourmet retailers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and North-Atlantic regions, as well as select Target, H-E-B and Central Market stores in the Midwest and Texas
Why to Try: Born from the kitchens of Blue Hill and Blue Hill Stone Barns, two of New York's top farm-to-table destinations, the eponymous yogurts were based on a savory beet blend that was first served in the dining room at the esteemed restaurants. Founders Dan, David and Laureen Barber were inspired to bring these veggie-based yogurts to market given the lack of savory alternatives in the grocery stores. "We saw an opportunity to create a line of yogurts showcasing savory — but still naturally sweet — vegetable-based yogurts," says David Barber. All of the vegetables are sourced from small farms in New York's Hudson Valley, and the milk is produced from 100 percent grass-fed cows in the Northeast, including their family farm in Massachusetts. Grass-fed cows means their yogurts contain a higher percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids than your average brand. Barber notes that in addition to the calcium, protein and naturally inherent probiotics in the yogurts, the Omega-3 fatty acids have "powerful anti-inflammatory properties." Current flavors include Carrot, Tomato, Beet, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Parsnip.
Recipe Ideas: Use it as a way to sneak veggies into kids' meals or as a savory breakfast, or try adding creaminess to Bobby Flay’s Carrot Slaw with a dollop of Blue Hill’s Carrot yogurt.
Where to Buy: Farmers Markets in Kansas City, Mo., and Texas
Why to Try: Green Dirt Farm, situated above the Missouri River Valley, is where Jacqueline Smith and Sarah Hoffmann began making their farmstead sheep's milk cheeses and yogurts. Over a period of 10 years, they perfected their recipe and now the tangy sheep's milk yogurt is produced from small family farms where the sheep are raised pasture grazed. What's the difference between sheep's milk yogurt and cow’s milk yogurt? Many lactose-intolerant people seem to have fewer reactions from the sheep’s milk. 'The fatty acids are more digestible," says Smith. Given that it is from grass-fed sheep, the milk has more nutritional benefits to offer. "There is a higher level of protein and higher beta carotene content when the sheep are grass fed," says Smith. In addition to lowering the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and macular degeneration, beta carotene — once consumed — is converted into vitamin A, which plays an important role in maintaining eye and skin health. While their plain flavor is the most savory of the bunch, their Pear Apple gets an herbal note from tarragon, and their Blueberry blend is accented with savory rosemary. "There’s nothing in them but 100 percent pure sheep’s milk, grass fed with probiotics, whole blueberries, cane sugar, a pinch of salt and rosemary," Smith says.
Recipe Ideas: Substitute the sour cream with sheep’s milk yogurt in Trisha Yearwood’s Zucchini Cakes with Herb Sour Cream.
Where to Buy: Chelsea Market (home of Food Network!), small retailers in New York City, farmers markets in Westchester and New York City, and online at Good Eggs.
Why to Try: Husband-and-wife John and Angela Fout started Sohha Yogurt on the belief that families should have a healthy yogurt with no added sugars, thickeners, preservatives or any other chemicals. "We also use more milk, so you’re getting three times more protein per serving," explains owner Angela Fout. Their handcrafted yogurts, made from a centuries-old recipe, are strained just as Fout learned from her mother in her home country of Lebanon. "We lose a lot of sugar during the process of removing liquid." As a result, Sohha has a thicker consistency and only 4 grams of sugar per serving, unlike most Greek yogurts that contain an average of 9 grams. The only ingredients Sohha contains are milk, cultures and gray sea salt. Fout also recommends their low-sugar, high-protein yogurts for people with diabetes, which runs in her family.
Recipe Ideas: It's perfect in Seven-Layer Vegetarian Greek Dip used as a spread on sandwiches, or layered on a slice of toasted whole-grain bread topped with smoked salmon and thin slices of cucumber for a quick and healthful lunch. It’s also perfect on its own with a sprinkle of za’atar. Yum.
Check out these tips on what to look for on the label when shopping for yogurts.
Kiri Tannenbaum is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and holds an M.A. in food studies from New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor. When her schedule allows, she leads culinary walking tours in New York City and is currently at work on her first book.