Dairy products are derived from cows, which exist at the tip-top of the food chain, so you must consider excessive exposure to potentially harmful environmental contaminants like heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, antibiotics, and pesticides. As edible species move up the food chain, harmful environmental chemicals can naturally bio-concentrate.
Additionally, many of these compounds are fat-soluble and tend to build up in the fats that are a natural part of dairy foods (which is another reason to choose lower fat dairy products!). Frequent, recurrent exposures to these chemicals over time are especially concerning to me. As such, I am a strong proponent of choosing organic dairy products, at least for the dairy foods that are consumed very regularly. Skim milk and plain yogurt are often consumed staples in my household so I only purchase organic varieties.
The healthiest yogurt choice is PLAIN, organic, and low-fat or non-fat. I am a huge fan of Greek-style plain yogurt because it is so rich and creamy, and because it has double the protein (great for appetite control!) of standard yogurts. My preferred choice is the large container of Organic Stoneyfield Greek Non-fat Plain Yogurt. Stay away from flavored yogurts as most are filled with added sugar! Sweeten your plain yogurt with some berries, cut up fresh fruit, or simply add a touch of honey, molasses, sugar, or maple syrup.
Plain yogurt is a superstar food and a staple in my family’s refrigerator. My daughter, chef Lucie, has become obsessed with making things from scratch and was blown over by how easy it was for her to make homemade plain yogurt. And the rest of us were blown over by how divine it was in taste and texture. She told me it was easier than making a PB &J sandwich. Here is her recipe:
Plug in the crock-pot and turn it on low. Pour in milk and put the top on. Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. Leave top on and unplug crock-pot and let sit for 3 hours undisturbed. Remove 1/2 cup of the warm milk and place in a large bowl with the starter yogurt. Whisk together. Pour contents of the bowl back into the crock-pot. Cover the crock-pot with a clean towel and let sit undisturbed for 8 hours or overnight. Scoop the yogurt into an airtight container and place in the fridge. The yogurt will last for 2 weeks in the fridge. It will be thinner than store-bought yogurt because most supermarket yogurts have added thickening agents.*
*If you want to thicken the yogurt like “Greek-style”, simply pour it into a colander lined with a clean cloth that is set into a large bowl. The “liquid whey” will drain out into the bowl below. Strain it for 2-5 hours depending on how thick you want it.
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