Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gettin' Siggi With It

I have been wanting to try Siggi's skyr for a good while now.  I know that there is a huge buzz about plain Greek yogurt being one of those "top twenty" or "top thirty" healthy foods that one absolutely must have in the house, but after having seen an episode of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel on which Andrew Zimmern watches/helps an Icelandic family make skyr, I have been intrigued.
Skyr is a Icelandic yogurt, but it's not anything like your regular supermarket brands.  It is THICK, more like a custard than a yogurt.  In fact, according to the label and website, one container of Siggi's requires three times the amount of milk found in those supermarket yogurt containers.  Wow!
Thus, this little container is packed with protein  that will help keep a person full long after the Dannon® has worn off.
But that's not all.  Some other reasons that Siggi's is way different than other yogurts:

  • The milk comes from grass-fed cows.
  • There is nothing artificial in it.
  • The flavored varieties are sweetened with agave nectar, not sugar or (worse) HFCS
  • There are nearly no ingredients - in the plain, three (I'm lumping the five cultures together) - others, up to six.  No multi-syllabic, unpronounceable chemicals.

I loved this - especially the use
of the word dreadful!
All right, but how does it taste?
I bought two containers, as I feel like anything worth tasting needs to be tried twice.  Sprouts had three flavors and the plain.  As much as I felt like I ought to buy the plain (the traditional Icelandic skyr), I was a little nervous and opted instead for the blueberry and the pomegranate and passion fruit instead.
I tried the blueberry last night.  I wasn't sold.  I hate to say it, but the taste reminded me a little too closely of being spit up on by HRH when she was still nursing (especially that one Mothers' Day when we had to take her to Urgent Care to make it stop).  It didn't smell like that in the container - quite the contrary, it smelled like... clean milk.  I can't say that I wasn't disappointed - I was kind of hoping for a gustatory epiphany or something - but I knew I had to give it another try.
Breakfast is, of course, perfect for yogurt consumption, so I didn't wait long to try the pomegranate and passion fruit.  Perhaps it was the different flavoring or perhaps just a different batch, but this time, I got it.  There was a mere hint of passion fruit - not even enough to color it, really - that complemented the thick, custard-like skyr.

Now, let's take a moment and compare Siggi's to the Dannon® company's Activia®.  I'm taking these ingredient lists straight from the ingredient labels.

Ingredients for Siggi's Pomegranate & Passion Fruit Skyr:

  • Pasteurized Skim Milk
  • Agave Nectar
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pomegranate
  • Live Active Cultures*
  • Vegetable Rennet

*Live Cultures: B. Lactis, L. Acidophilus, L. Delbrueckii Subsp. Bulgaricus, L. Delbrueckii Subsp. Lactis, S. Thermophilus

Ingredients for Dannon® Vanilla Activia®

  • Cultured Grade A Reduced Fat Milk*
  • Fructose Syrup
  • Sugar
  • (contains less than 1% of the following)
  • Fructose
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Corn Starch
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Kosher Geletin
  • Natural Vanilla Flavor
  • Carmine ("for color")
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Malic Acid

*Live cultures: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, Bifidobacterium

Notice that sugar is listed as an ingredient three times.
Why is there regular AND modified corn starch?  Is the natural vanilla flavor from vanilla (just because it's natural doesn't mean that it's from vanilla; the determination "natural" just means it comes from natural sources, not chemically created ones)?  Why do you need to color it?
This really brings me back to what Michael Pollan wrote in In Defense of Food - the fewer the ingredients, the better.  I know what all of the ingredients in Siggi's are.  I can't even get a clear Wikipedia entry for sodium citrate.
What I find even funnier (not funny haha, but funny ironic...) is that there is no proof that the third culture in Activia® helps a person's digestive system any more than cultures found in other yogurts.
If we look further onto the nutrition label, we'll see that Siggi's has 16 grams of protein in that little cup (that's 35% of a woman's RDA); the Activia® has 5 grams.  The Dannon® has 17 grams of sugars while the Siggi's has 11 grams.  I could go on, but I think the point is made.
The Siggi's wasn't inexpensive, but then, nothing that is high quality ever is.  I think I'll stick with my plain yogurts that I sweeten and flavor on my own for the everyday, but when I want to treat myself, I'll make sure to save a little room in the shopping bag for some Siggi's.

1 comment:

  1. Do you guys have Trader Joe's down in AZ? They make a flavored Greek yogurt that is heavenly! I used to get it for Isa when she was a baby. Just the right amount of fruity goodness with the thick, slightly tart flavor of Greek yogurt still coming through. And, since it was the TJ brand, it wasn't too expensive.