We picked a Tuesday afternoon and met in a conference room with spoons ready. Our goal? To choose the best yogurts to feature in the August/September 2010 issue of Healthy Cooking. A team of 10 tasters was tasked with picking the best of the best.
The rules for our testing were simple. First, our yogurts had to be healthy, which meant they had to meet our nutritional criteria and contain:
- 200 calories or less
- 4 g fat or less
- 30 g sugar or less
- 5 g protein or more
- 20 percent of daily value calcium or more per serving
They also had to be available nationwide. Finally, to make sure we got a varied yet specific sampling, we tested plain, vanilla, blueberry and assorted Greek yogurts. We left out yogurts claiming extra health benefits, such as added fiber and probiotics.
Samples were labeled 1A to 6F. Tuesday arrived and pens were at the ready. From our healthy sampling, we looked for several qualities in the perfect yogurt, including:
- visual appeal
- tart/sweet balance
We tasted good yogurts, bad yogurts and really, really delicious yogurts. Tester notes included such rants as, "Did someone add hair gel to this one?" and "Thin texture and kinda blah." There was also "Cheesy, but in a bad way."
But we had some raves, too. One tester noted, "Now, this is right on. I could see myself eating this every day." And, "Finally, something worth writing about!"
At the end of the day, votes were counted and winners announced. Our favorite vanilla-flavored yogurt was Yoplait Light Fat-Free Vanilla, but a close second went to Yoplait Thick and Creamy Lowfat Vanilla. In our opinion, Yoplait ruled the vanilla world.
We all agreed that the plain yogurts needed additional ingredients like blueberries or honey to make them worth buying, but we chose Stonyfield Organic Low Fat Plain in a landslide.
Judging Greek yogurts was the easiest because the good ones were great, and the bad ones were truly awful. Chobani Vanilla Non-Fat was wonderful. We now see containers in our office refrigerator regularly.
Finally, we got to the flavored varieties. Dannon Fruit on the Bottom Blueberry took the top prize.
Here's the most important thing we learned from shopping for the brands, flavors and styles for the taste test: Read the labels! If it says low fat, it's probably high in sugar, and if it says low calorie, it might be high in fat.
What are some of your favorite yogurt brands and flavors? Share your picks for the best yogurt in the comments below!
—John McMillan, Associate Editor, Healthy Cooking