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5 Yogurt Buying Tips

collage of yogurts
May 3, 2015
Ingredients + Products + Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the items that gets a lot of ingredient list and label reading.  And for good reason.  I compiled these top tips for you to use the next time you go grocery shopping.

  1. Don’t assume plain or organic yogurts do not contain food additives : Analysis of 60% of the plain yogurts in US grocery stores today contained Pectin, including pricey organic varieties.
  2. Watch out for fortification tricks: Yogurt manufacturers game recommended daily % values with fortification.  Yogurt is no exception.  35% of the yogurts were fortified with Vitamin A or D.
  3. Avoid yogurts with emulsifiers: 25% of plain yogurts in US grocery stores contained guar gum, xanthan, locust gum or corn starch.  These emulsifiers are unnecessary and usually are accompanied by longer ingredient lists as well as other food additives.
  4. Make sure the dairy yogurt you are buying has milk: 5% of the yogurts in US grocery stores do not list milk on their ingredient lists.  Instead they contain whey, milk powder, or other powered products in place of milk.
  5. Make sure you’re not just buying water.  Some yogurts are more water than milk.   yogurt listed Water as its first ingredient, sugar as its second and milk as its 6th ingredient


Interested in learning more?

Plain yogurts analysis here

Flavored yogurts analysis here

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7 Common Sugar Synonyms

sugar synonyms
May 2, 2015

Sugar is sugar, but it doesn’t always go by the name sugar on food labels.  This is on purpose.

Food companies have gotten smart and developed a range of ways to mask the presence of sugar in processed foods.

When looking at ingredient lists, make sure to search for these top 7 sugar synonyms:

  1. Agave
  2. Fruit Sugar
  3. Honey
  4. Maple Syrup
  5. Molasses
  6. High Fructose Corn Syrup
  7. Rice Syrup
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What I learned from Analyzing 832 Wheat Bread Products

April 30, 2015
Bread + Products

“Wheat’s” in a name?  Turns out a lot of nuance.


Adjectives are important

Whole Wheat has a strong association with healthiness. However, the adjectives used to describe Wheat -100%, Cracked, Whole, Stoneground, etc.- can mislead us into thinking the product has more health punch than it does.


Naming rules exist, but there are loopholes.  For example, Stoneground Whole Wheat means the product includes the whole grain, while simply saying the bread is Stoneground does not.


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With 22.5 ingredients on average, do you know what’s in your bread?

April 26, 2015
Bread + Products

Bread at the grocery store is full of ingredients that make it softer, prettier and live longer on the shelf.


What’s in Bread?

Whether you love it or avoid it, bread is a diet staple around the world. However, the majority of bread in US grocery stores includes many ingredients manufacturers include to keep its softness and extend its shelf life.


Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.22.24 PM




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What I learned from analyzing 1858 Flavored Yogurts

April 20, 2015
Ingredients + Yogurt

Yogurt has a millennial-long association with healthiness, but in the US, flavors challenge yogurt’s true healthiness.


Yogurt’s Healthy History

Yogurt is often described as the oldest processed food because its origin traces back to The Neolithic Era of The Stone Age.

  • Genghis Khan reportedly gave his warriors yogurt to instill strength and bravery in the 12th C
  • Suleiman the Magnificent his friend Francois I, the King of France, a doctor in 1542 who prescribed yogurt to successfully cure Francois of digestion ails


In US, Yogurt is for Breakfast AND Dessert

Despite yogurt’s long history, it didn’t become popular in the US until the mid-20th Century when Dannon experienced commercial success with its fruit on the bottom line.

Dannon’s  fruit on the bottom product aligned with US consumers’ tastes and preferences.  Americans like yogurt “thicker, sweeter and milder,” summarized Dannon USA President Patrick Gurney in 1992.



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Does Pectin in Yogurt Matter?

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 2.24.22 PM
April 18, 2015
Ingredients + Yogurt

Half and Half

You have almost a 50/50 chance of buying yogurt with Pectin in it. And, just because you buy “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean your yogurt is “pectin-free.”


Analysis of ~ 1600 yogurts turned up this breakdown of yogurts with and without Pectin:


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Why I love Whole Foods 365’s Almond Butter

whole foods
April 15, 2015
Ingredients + Nut butter + Products + Tips

I fell into a marketing trap

Confession. I completely and totally succumbed to the packaging and marketing of Justin’s, a very successful boutique nut butter brand about two years ago.

As our son was getting older and more open to protein choices, and as I started making more smoothies, I was buying a lot of almond butter. I’m not sure if the price point of this boutique brand, work on Foodwise, or something else prompted me to take a look at the ingredient list again, but one day, last year, I did.



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Is Greek Yogurt Really Better?

greek yogurts
April 12, 2015

Why Greek is synonymous with a Healthy Diet

  • Greek yogurt has done a good job of marketing itself as a “super food.”
  • It also fits in nicely with the US populations’ affinity for protein and Paleo diets due to its high protein, low sugar perception.


Greek’s Commercial Success is Insane

Greek yogurt’s success is most evident in the 2500% growth figures of the category from 2006-2011.  So it shouldn’t surprise, today, a third of yogurt sold in the US is Greek style. (Source: NPD Group)


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Why I rarely buy chocolate at the grocery store

dark chcolate stack
April 10, 2015

Even dark chocolate isn’t free of this ingredient

One of my go to desserts is a chocolate mousse recipe by Aussie chef Bill Granger that calls for melting dark chocolate as a prominent component of the recipe.

Up until several years ago, I simply bought whatever 70%+ dark chocolate bar or chips were on sale without giving it much thought.  After all, I prided myself, it’s not just any chocolate I’m using, it’s dark chocolate.

dark chocolate shaving



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