Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ricera Rice Yogurt


One-word verdict: Barf. (Trust me, it accurately describes the color and the textures of this stuff, and the taste is not far behind.)

The backstory: I noticed a new brand on the Whole Foods yogurt shelves recently--Ricera, a yogurt made from rice. Interesting! I thought. A quick look at the long ingredients list and high sugar and calorie count, however, told me that this was probably not the yogurt for me. But when it went on sale this week, I picked up a cup of the peach flavor in the name of research.

Nutrition: For a yogurt that's so low in fat, the calorie count is pretty high, thanks to a lot of carbohydrates (42 grams total carbs in a 6-ounce cup). Per 6 ounces of the peach flavor, you get 190 calories, 25 grams sugar, and 0 grams saturated fat (1 gram total fat). This also includes 3 grams fiber, which is nice, but only 3 grams protein, which is significantly less than you'll find in most dairy and soy yogurts.

The cup proudly announces that it's nondairy, and a tiny icon communicates that it's kosher, but I had to go to the company's website for confirmation that it's gluten-free (it is). That a rice-based product clearly geared toward the allergy market wouldn't make sure to put this information on the cup baffled me, but soon I realized it's the least of their problems...

Well, how is it? I needn't have worried about the calories, because I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

Upon removing the foil lid, I was accosted by a substance of a pukey brown color that smelled mildly fermented. The texture was slightly thicker than applesauce and gritty, interspersed with chunks of rice and maybe small pieces of peach (it was hard to tell).

The taste could also only be described as "fermented," with a bitter aftertaste and, at times, a hint of generic peach flavor. This, combined with the muddy color and gloppy, baby-food-like texture, made for a pretty disgusting "yogurt"-eating experience.

Where's it made? The product is "Distributed" by Ricer Foods in Middletown, California--2,907 miles from NYC.

Ingredient notes: To complement its nasty taste and uninspiring nutritional profile, Ricera has the longest ingredients list I've ever seen on a yogurt-like product. We start with "Organic Oryzalife," a patented blend of water, organic brown rice, and rice protein, followed by organic evaporated cane juice (sweetener) and organic peaches. After that starts the slew of (organic!) thickeners, flavorants, and preservatives, including tapioca starch, tapioca syrup, inulin, locust bean gum, natural flavors, agar, citric acid, pectin, and annatto. Yeesh! Also in the mix are salt, several vitamins and minerals, and four yogurt cultures.

I've said before that alternative yogurts usually need some extra ingredients to help them attain the texture of dairy yogurt, and I stand by that...but this seems excessive.

Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: The container is your standard #5 plastic with a foil lid. To Ricera's credit, most of their ingredients are organic (where did they find that organic locust bean gum?), though with such a long ingredients list you have to assume that components of this yogurt are being trucked in from far and wide.

Price: I picked a 6-ounce cup up at Whole Foods on sale for $1 today, and I have to say I don't remember what the regular price is. I'll assume about $1.20. But trust me, even if it cost 20 cents you wouldn't catch me eating another cup of this dreck.

The bottom line: It tastes gross, it's high in sugar, and it doesn't exactly pass the "eat only food with a short list of ingredients you can pronounce" test. I commend the company for apparently being one of the only ones out there trying to cater to those hard-up yogurt lovers who are intolerant of both dairy and soy, but I think this product is going to need some serious rejiggering of its formula if it's going to score any repeat customers.

SCORING:

Ricera Rice Yogurt, Organic Peach:
taste: 0; texture: 0; sat fat: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; processing/earth-/animal-friendliness: 1

TOTAL = 4

Link: Ricera Rice Yogurt.

17 comments:

sfxmaven said...

YEESH. Maybe you got a bad batch? But I'm not sure it's worth finding out with another purchase. bleh!

NYHH said...

Is this your lowest score yet??? I would imagine so. Dear god, I thank you for taking this one for the team :)

Anonymous said...

I don't think Ricera contains preservative. If you think Tricalcium Phosphate is a preservative, you are wrong. It is a source of Calcium. I really think you got a really bad batch. I've noticed some incosistencies in the product but the newer stuff is much better. I like the vanilla and strawberry better. I think the peach flavor is too strong.

TD said...

Thanks for your input, anonymous. I imagine that they couldn't still be in business if everyone's experience was like mine, so I'm glad to hear that you like some of the other flavors.

Did I say that tricalcium phosphate was a preservative? I don't think I mentioned it in this review. It is a source of calcium, that is true, although I have read that it may not be as well-absorbed as calcium carbonate.

Jules said...

This yogurt is fantastic! For someone who hasn't been able to eat dairy for 20 years, it's wonderful to have yogurt. I like the peach, strawberry and blueberry. I'm not crazy about the vanilla I must say. I've never posted a blog before, but I was motivated today because I think this product is so good.

Juliet Easton said...

I am one of the people in Ricera's target market since I am allergic to dairy and soy. I was really excited when I first saw this on the shelf my local health food store since I would be able to eat some type of yogurt for the first time in 14 years. The blueberry is much better than the peach in my opinion. I never got to try the vanilla because every time I went to buy some, it was past the expiration date. I am also allergic to strawberries, so that flavor was not an option. Apparently not a lot of people like this yogurt since my local health food store no longer carries it. I wish they did because even though it does not taste as good as I remember dairy and soy yogurt tasting, at least I could eat it!

Anna said...

Ricera yogurt is completely delicious! No offense, but you are overly dramatic about your experience with this yogurt and it kind of upset me because your comments seem to have discouraged a couple of people from trying this one of a kind yogurt alternative to dairy and soy! Of course its not going to taste like a creamy dairy yogurt.... you have to adjust your taste buds for a different experience..... anyways, this blog was easy to find in a google search for this yogurt and so I'm assuming a lot of people are reading these blog entries.... so to all you out there who haven't tried this yogurt... totally do so!

Julie B said...

I have to agree with the previous poster...this yogurt has been a godsend for our family, in that my youngest can now eat yogurt (age 2) like her big sister. When I first tried it, I was taken back by the texture, but they seem to have improved this in the past couple of months. My daughter loves the strawberry-we use it in smoothies often.
Anyway-I just had to comment because I really think people need to try for themselves. It is really good!

Anonymous said...

WOAH, what is going on? Is it just me or does it seem like most of these comments are spammy reviews by people (a person) associated with the Ricera company? I am disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I completly disagree with the critique. I have had a very difficult time finding non-dairy yogurt to have (my husband has an allergy to milk products). Our physicians has warned us against high amounts of soy and so this product seemed to fit the bill.

I have been buying it for about 6 months and have never come across this 'fermented puky' substance she illudes to. Nor have I ever found bits of 'rice' in my yogurt. You must remember, of course, nothing is the same as dairy. I am thoroughly happy and wish I could find it in more places. Mix this with granola and it kicks butt!

Anonymous said...

I also had a very different experience than this critique! I recently bought one for my 2 year old because he is allergic to both milk and soy. It is a nightmare to try to find foods for him. So, I was very happy when he loved it and didnt throw up or have stomach aches that kept him awake all night! It does have a funny brown color, but it was very creamy with no 'chunks" and I thought it tasted good too (although I also am allergic to dairy and therefore am more used to "dairy substitutes".
I appreciate the critiques because I think it's always good to hear peoples experiences, however I wanted to also share mine since it was so different.

Anonymous said...

Have never tried it, but I am allergic to both dairy and soy. I have IBS, and NEED to get probiotics in my system somehow. I am in Europe, but when I return to the states I am going to start eating it... even if I have to hold my nose! But, there is a bright side to this yogurt - it's a solution for us allergenic folks!

TD said...

OK, people--check out my new review of another dairy- and soy-free yogurt that I liked much better than Ricera--So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk. In fact, if you've tried both, I'd love to hear your thoughts on who wins the taste-test...

Anonymous said...

I've had quite a bit of this yogurt and like it very much. Haven't had any issues with consistency or found separation either. I think you got a bad one :-/. If you're like me and can't have milk, gluten, OR soy, Ricera Yogurt is an excellent option. Yes, it's a little higher in calories and sugar than I would like, but just eat less if that's a problem for you. 1 cup (8oz) of cooked brown rice is around 217 calories and 45g of carbs, so it's not surprising that a product made primarily from brown rice is going to be high calorie and carb. That doesn't make it unhealthy...just be wise about how much you eat.

Anonymous said...

Well I just attempted to eat the exact kind written about and could not agree more, on top of the already disgusting product, I found a huge chunk of something w/ green on it. Needless to say the rest went unfinished and I will not be trying this again. I recently found out I am allergic to gluten and soy amongst other things and was looking for a yogurt replacement, this is not it! I assure you

Anonymous said...

You probably bought a 'bad batch'. Why else do you think it was on 'SALE'?

Anonymous said...

My son is allergic to a list that is a page long. This Ricera yogurt product is God sent. He didn't complain one bit.