Ever since I can remember I’ve been lactose-intolerant. My mom even says as a baby I wasn’t able to digest cow’s milk. Of course, I never let that stop me for eating the big three: cheese, ice cream and yogurt.
You see I have no problem giving up plain old milk. Sure cereal is nice but you can typically eat around the milk. But oh man, cheese. That’s another story. I can easily eat an entire block in less than a day. And I have….many times.
Ice cream is ice cream. Who doesn’t love it (even if it doesn’t love you)?
And yogurt, specifically plain Greek yogurt, is the bomb (originally I typed “is the shit” but thought maybe that wasn’t appropriate. Eh). Some people can’t stand it but I love the slightly sour taste. And since it’s plain, you don’t have to worry about added sugar.
But cheese, ice cream and yogurt are still all dairy. And dairy and I do not get along. In the past, I would typically just ignore the discomfort. I mean, it’s not that bad, more just annoying. But after going paleo and really thinking about how food is affecting me, I decided I really did have to stop. Because even though it might seem like that piece of cheese is only causing a little bloating and gas, it’s probably doing a lot more harm (inflammation, leaky gut, etc). If your body is telling you no, listen to it.
Thankfully, now there are a number of dairy free options at the grocery store. Soy is the obvious choice but since I’m allergic to it, that’s out.
This past week I decided to experiment. I purchased two non-dairy yogurt options and put them to the test.
Almond Dream which is made from almonds, and So Delicious made from coconut milk. I found both for between $1.50 – $2.00 at Mariano’s, a bit of an upscale healthy grocery store in Chicago. But I’ve also seen them at Whole Foods.
A quick look at the ingredient list and it seems like this might be a good choice. Almond Dream yogurt is basically almonds and water, with stabilizers (maltodextrin, corn starch etc) and sweetener (evaporated cane syrup). The tricalcium phosphate is added to increase the amount of calcium. And thankfully it does not contain carrageenan, which is a common additive to dairy alternatives.
But if you take a closer look at the nutritional breakdown, you might see something else. A container is 150 calories, with only 25 calories from fat (almonds). What are the other 125 calories from? Carbs. A whopping 30 grams of them.
Between the corn, tapioca and cane syrup, this yogurt is really more carbs than almonds. Not that that’s particularly a bad thing, but something to consider. Not to mention it only has 1g of protein and no vitamins except for the added calcium.
To compare, Fage Total 2% Greek yogurt is also 150 calories (with 35 calories from fat) but with only 8 grams of carbs and a full 20 grams of protein.
This yogurt is really more a source of quick-digesting carbs, eaten maybe after a hard workout, rather than a filling breakfast food.
But what does it taste like? Well…really sweet almond milk.
I think I’m slowly realizing I’m not such a fan of almond flavoring but if you enjoy almond milk you might enjoy this yogurt.
My only other warning is the texture, which I can only describe as gelatinous. You can kind of see it in the photo.
This is not the smooth cream you would expect from yogurt.
Maybe you could say it’s a bit like sweet pudding? Definitely more of a dessert.
Final verdict: Nay
If you enjoy the taste of almonds and you’re looking for an easy post-workout snack, you might give this yogurt a try. It’s gluten, dairy and soy free. And free of carrageenan. But if you’re looking for a good source of vitamins, calcium or protein, have a problem with food textures, or are looking for a breakfast alternative, skip this one.
Like most coconut products, this yogurt has a long list of ingredients. Besides the coconut milk, there is cane syrup, pectin, tapioca dextrose, algin, magnesium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, locust bean gum, rice starch etc… The list is pretty long. Not to mention there is the dreaded carrageenan.
Most of the added ingredients (besides the cane syrup) are thickeners: algin (from seaweed), pectin, tapioca dextrose, rice starch, locust bean gum (from carob trees) and guar gum (from guar beans).
As far as whether or not the carrageenan is really that big of a deal, the jury is still out. Some people say it’s not that bad and others say to avoid it. This article by Chris Kresser is pretty good if you want to read more about it. For me, I don’t run screaming if I see it but I also make sure I’m not eating it every day.
As for the nutritional breakdown, this yogurt is also 150 calories but with 60 of them from fat, all of which are saturated. I know what you’re thinking “Ah saturated fat!” But it’s coconut milk. Of course it’s saturated. And that’s OK.
The part that isn’t so great is not the saturated fat but that it has 19 grams of sugar (the cane syrup is listed as the second ingredient) and 22 grams of carbs (again because of the thickeners). And just like the almond yogurt, there is only 1 gram of protein (although there is added vitamin B12, magnesium and iron).
After looking online, it seems that So Delicious makes a “Greek Style” yogurt with only 7 grams of sugar and more dietary fiber. I might be interested in checking that one out as an alternative.
Thankfully I did enjoy the taste and texture of the So Delicious Coconut yogurt a lot better. It was still on the sweet-side but I think I just prefer coconut to almond.
The texture I thought was pretty similar to typical yogurt, maybe a even a little thinner. Definitely not anywhere as thick as Greek yogurt, although maybe their version of greek yogurt is.
Final Verdict: Nay
Although I did prefer the taste of this one, with it being so high in sugar, I just don’t see this being a staple in my diet. And with that long list of ingredients that I can’t pronounce, it doesn’t really go along with my goal of eating “real food.”
Personally, neither of these did a great job at replacing the yogurt that I love. They don’t offer a great source of vitamins, protein or really anything useful. So why bother? I think I’d rather just stick to my eggs for breakfast.
But what about you guys? Do you have a favorite yogurt brand, dairy or non-dairy?