Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk, Blueberry

One-word verdict: Decent!

The backstory: I guess they can ferment anything these days! This dairy-free, soy-free product is made with cultured coconut milk, of all things. I'm going to call it cocogurt.

Now, I like me some coconut milk. In curries, in coconut rice, in ice cream. But I also think that coconut milk tastes even less like dairy milk than soy milk does. I sure wouldn't drink it straight. And I've been burned by interesting-sounding, nondairy, nonsoy yogurt before. So when I found myself out of homemade yogurt and this stuff on sale at Whole Foods, I bought a cup of the blueberry flavor...skeptically.

Nutrition: In a 6-ounce cup, the blueberry cocogurt has 140 calories, 20 grams sugar (the other flavors range from 12-22 grams sugar—not too bad), and 6 grams saturated fat (in fact, all the fat is saturated). That may sound high, but remember that it's coming from a plant source (the coconut), so may not be as bad for you as sat fat from animal sources (though the jury's still out on this). There's also a good amount of fiber (2 grams) but not much protein (1 gram). It's also kosher, soy-free, dairy-free, certified vegan, and gluten-free.

Well, how is it? I peeled back the plastic on top and was greeted with a deep purple color and definite blueberry-like scent. Stuck in a spoon to find that the texture was blessedly not-too-thick—in fact, it would be pretty easily pourable if one chose to do so. Hm, potential!

Took a taste and my first thought was "Hm…not bad!" It didn't have an extremely yogurty taste, the blueberry flavor wasn't extremely strong, and it doesn't taste like coconut at all; but it also didn't taste weird and, while sweet, it wasn't offensively sugary. Things fell off a little over my next few bites, as I soon realized that there were only tiny bits of berry skin mixed in, not even close to a whole berry. Then, on my third bite, I got a piece of stem. Oops! And when a took a break a few bites later, I noticed a curious aftereffect in my mouth—if I held my lips closed and breathed out my nose, it tasted in my mouth a little bit like I'd been drinking an alcoholic beverage! (You may remember that I tried this trick with the Trader Joe's Green Tea yogurt, but the aftertaste there was green tea, not, um, beer.) Hm, what happens when you culture coconut milk, anyway??

The effect faded after a few moments, and I went back to eating. In fact, I polished off the cup.

Where's it made? "Distributed by Turtle Mountain, LLC," Eugene, OR, 3,004 miles from NYC.

Ingredient notes: Fruit comes before sugar in the ingredients list—usually a good sign. Then again, I can't pretend that this product isn't loaded up with a lot of ingredients, just about as many as that other one.

The list starts innocently enough with water, coconut milk, blueberries, and evaporated cane juice. But then we've got a slew of thickeners (pectin, chicory root extract, algin [kelp extract], rice starch, locust bean gum, agar, carrageenan, AND guar gum—and it's not even that thick!), the vitamins and minerals (magnesium phosphate, tricalcium phosphate, vitamin B12), and some natural flavors and dipotassium phosphate (mineral? preservative? both?) thrown in for fun. Whew. Oh yeah, and six yogurt cultures.

Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: The container is your standard #5 plastic with a thin plastic lid. The ingredients are vegan and pretty natural-sounding, but nothing appears to be organic.

Price: I got the cocogurt on sale for less than $1.00 this week, but I think that it usually sells for $1.00 a cup at my Whole Foods.

The bottom line: One of the most surprising things about the cocogurt is that it didn't taste like coconut at all—and that among the six flavors offered by So Delicious, none of them are coconut! (If you are looking for a coconut flavored 'gurt and eat dairy, Ronnybrook makes a good one.)

That, and it's long ingredients list aside, I think that this product is still leaps and bounds better than that other nondairy, nonsoy yogurt, which I have taken a lot of flack for on this blog for detesting. Anyway, if you can't eat dairy or soy, I'd say definitely give the cocogurt a whirl.


So Delicious Made With Coconut Milk Cultured Coconut Milk, Blueberry:
taste: 3.5; texture: 2.5; sugar: 1; price: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; processing/earth-/animal-friendliness: 1


Link: So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Top Yogurts of 2007

Faithful yogurt-lovers, I know that the posts have been a bit thin on the ground for this blog over the past few months. I'm definitely planning to make 2008 a more yogurty year, with more regular reviews of new products. So to kick things off, I thought that I would post a list of my five favorite yogurts of 2007.

I ate a lot of yogurt last year…some excellent, some not so great, but these five really were a cut above the rest. Don't put too much faith in the order, which is somewhat arbitrary—I'll really take any of these pretty much anytime, and hope you'll give them a try, too. So without further ado:

The YogBlog's Top 5 Yogurts of 2007

1) Ronnybrook Drinkable Yogurt, peach and blackberry flavors (YogBlog score: 15/20)

2) Old Chatham Sheephearding Company Sheep's Milk Yogurt, maple and ginger flavors (YogBlog scores: 14/20 and 15/20)

3) Traders Point Creamery Organic Grassfed Yogurt, wildberry and orchard trio flavors (review forthcoming!)

4) Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Lowfat Yogurt (YogBlog score: 14/20)

5) Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt with honey (review forthcoming!)

I chose these top yogurts on taste alone, but you may notice that they have some other key similarities. Short list of ingredients. Much lower in added sugar than typical commercial yogurts. Contain some fat instead of a bunch of added thickeners. The top three are produced by single herds on small farms. The top two are produced within 150 miles of where I live. Coincidence that these generally earth- and health-friendly factors also produce the best-tasting products?

What were your favorite products last year? What yogurts should I check out in 2008?