My New Favorite Dairy Products

September 17, 2015 at 8:45 pm

When I was living with my mom between the ages of eight and eleven, I had one primary complaint about going with her to the grocery store. It took for-ev-er. My mom moves at a slow pace in general, but what made these trips exceptionally long was that she looked at the label on ev-ry-thing. At the time I was impatient and annoyed, but now (as we often do) I’ve become that mom myself. The more health-conscious I’ve become, the more I care about just what the manufacturers put in that “sour cream.” Thank you, Daisy brand, for limiting the ingredient(s) to just one.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’d wager that if you’re reading my blog you probably have similar concerns about what’s in your food. Last year I took those concerns to a crazy-intense obsessive-compulsive level, so I have had to make an effort to consciously avoid looking at every label for the past year. But as much as I try not to be obsessive about it, I do still care about what’s in our food.

I like to buy organic, but it’s not always available or affordable for us. So the next best thing, in my mind, is to find the products with the least number of ingredients… preferably all things I can pronounce and recognize as “safe.” For years I bought Breyers “natural” vanilla ice cream for this reason. Among the varieties available at our local grocer it had the fewest and least suspect components. Then I tried Haagen-dazs vanilla. So not cheap, but oh my gosh it tasted light-years better than Breyers and had even fewer ingredients (cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract). It’s really creamy and delicious, but I always kind of feel a little guilty supporting a Nestle product. My dad swears Tillamook “old-fashioned” vanilla is the absolute best vanilla on the planet, but I can’t get past the label. At least they’re working on transitioning to a recipe without Carageenan, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, and Polysorbate 80 early next year.

Anyway… the point of this blogpost is really to tell you about my new favorite source for yogurt and ice cream. In case you’re suspicious, nobody asked me to write this post and nobody is paying me for it. Truly I get nothing from sharing this other than the satisfaction of knowing that maybe a few other moms will rejoice as much as I have over the company’s impeccable ingredients.

Maybe I’m behind the times, and you’re already a fan, but I am thrilled to have discovered Straus Family Creamery.

IMG_20150917_115853126

Guys. First of all… full-fat Greek yogurt is hard to come by. Costco, I love you, but your yogurt selection needs help. In case you’re wondering why I’m such a fan of whole-milk dairy products, here’s just one reason:

Saturated fats are known to be antiviral (caprylic acid), antifungal (lauric acid), and antiplaque. But the benefits of these fats don’t end there. . . . It doesn’t matter how many vitamins you pop in pill form if you’re not consuming the fat it needs to be absorbed into your body. Vitamins A and D (essential for dental health), E (skin health), and K (skeletal and heart health) in particular call for fat in the diet (Source).

In addition to looking for products with the fewest ingredients, I also generally try to get foods as close as I can to their “natural” state. Milk coming out of a cow isn’t “skim” or low-fat. The fat is there for a reason. Granted, it’s not pasteurized either, but raw milk isn’t widely available for most of us. I know some of you avoid all dairy for a variety of reasons, but I love dairy in all its forms, and my body is totally OK with that. Yay.

So Straus’s plain greek yogurt is made with only organic whole milk and live active cultures (L. Acidophilus, L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, and Bifibacterium). That’s it. And it tastes like heaven. As soon as I took my first bite, my body screamed, “YES.” If the company’s claims can be trusted, their cows graze on pastures in northern California, so their products likely have IMG_20150917_130229the added health benefits of grass-fed dairy as well. Beth Terry actually visited Straus dairy farm to find out for herself what their practices were, and it appears they are what they claim to be. Cool.

I’ll also add that we have moved to exclusively Kerrygold butter (made with grass-fed cream, in bulk from Costco). It tastes ridiculously superior to “regular” butter, and since making the switch our family’s skin health has never been better.  Vitamin A (retinol) and healthy fats for the win! [One of these days I’m going to do a whole blogpost about how I kicked a horrible case of pompholyx eczema primarily through vitamin A from grass-fed butter and cod liver oil.]

Straus’s vanilla ice cream is also made with simple organic ingredients (Pasteurized Organic Cream and Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Egg Yolk, Organic Vanilla Extract, Organic Ground Vanilla Bean).

A couple of downsides…

  • Straus dairy products aren’t widely available. I have purchased mine at Sprouts here in Phoenix. They are also available at Whole Foods and other healthfood stores, but most regular grocery stores won’t carry these products. Bummer. If Costco started carrying them I would do a seriously excited happy dance in the aisle.
  • Also… they are pricey. I have never spent so much on a container of yogurt in my life, but I will do it as long as I am able because it really is worth the extra cash to me. Also the ice cream is expensive but not really much worse than what I was spending on Haagen-dazs. The way I see it… there are times when you really do get what you pay for, and I’m willing to pay more to support a great company producing high-quality products, especially when my family’s health is directly affected.

Some more info you might find interesting

Why Grass-Fed Butter Is One of the Healthiest Fats on the Planet
The Benefits of Saturated Fat
A Field Trip to Straus Dairy Farm

strauscow