Quick: when I say, "Low-Carb" what is the first thing that comes to mind?
No potatoes? No pasta? No bread? No fruit? No yogurt? Right?
That's what I thought. We need to talk. First of all, let's breakdown Low-Carb.
Based on Atkins' original plan, Low-Carb dieting to lose weight and Low-Carbing to maintain weight loss are two different things. To lose weight you start by putting your system on notice that something new is coming with a very low daily carb count and then you proceed to the ongoing weight loss period (OWL) as determined by the amount of weight you want to lose.
Yes, during this phase, you leave go the potatoes, pasta, bread, most fruits and regrettably good things like high carb yogurt. More importantly you give up refined, processed, pre-boxed food and sugar.
In exchange you are allowed to eat good fat, lean meats, fresh green vegetables and other foods that have little or no carbs. This keeps you from being hungry while your body draws against the stored fat for energy. Glucose equals energy. Stay away from the foods that instantly turn to glucose forces the body to redirect its search to stored energy, i.e., those saddlebags on our hips.
It is far too easy to go nuts and think that giving up some carbs could be improved by giving up all carbs but that is faulty and dangerous thought processing. Complex carbohydrates are vital to good health. The problem is that we don't know the difference between the good carbs and the bad ones. But then, in our defense, we've been brainwashed by decades of advertising.
Once you reach your weight loss goal, you can then add good "whole" (not refined) carbs back into your daily diet until you reach your own personal ceiling.
There is a good rule of thumb that works on average: count 1/2 gram of carb per pound of body weight. So, at 150 pounds one should be able to consume 75 grams of carbs per day and not gain weight.
This is not written in stone, of course, and everyone having different metabolisms and lifestyles, will need to experiment and find his/her own number.
At this point you will now be in the ongoing Low-Carb WOE (way of eating) known as Controlled Carbs. This is where we should all be, actually, eating modest satisfying meals made of whole nutritious foods, including lean meats, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. The fact that we have been derailed by refined and processed, sugar-laden foods is why we have to go the drastic route of Low-Carb in the first place. The good news is, once back on track, we should be able to eat what we should have been eating all along.
So, what is whole food? The answer is pretty simple. Whole food is that which hasn't been stripped, via processing, of the vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes that make the body function properly.
Food is more than fuel, or merely to satisfy hunger. In fact, food is really a complex science and the ingestion of certain types of food in combination with each other has been the subject of many ongoing studies.
I won't bore you with those statistics because I'd like to cut to the chase and get right to the focus of this article - the virtues of yogurt in a healthy diet and how to reconcile the carb count.
Three words: make it yourself.
Don't think I didn't hear that collective groan. You think you don't have time. I challenge you with this - you find time for everything you really want to do, now don't you?
You see one of the reasons we have come to the place where we have to choose a diet and suffer through it is because we are spoiled to the convenience of - grab it off the shelf, who cares what's in it? This is the root of why, in spite of billions of dollars thrown at the problem, America gets fatter every year.
I submit that we don't have to take it anymore. We can rediscover what our mothers and grandmothers instinctively knew about food. It's always better made from scratch. Over the last five years, I have been diligently trying to find work arounds for those foods that I loved and have missed on the Low-Carb Woe.
OJ was pretty easy to circumvent but I confess I have really missed yogurt. Frankly, I never made my own yogurt before nor, I admit, did it occur to me that I could. But one day, doing research for another article, I typed in "homemade yogurt" in a search engine and came up with dozens of websites to explore.
And explore I did. After extensive reading, I weeded down to four or five different processes and gleaned out of them the similar basics and then dived into my own experiments using the supplies and equipment I already had. It took about four tries before I had fined-tuned the process to the point I felt I could live with and that produced consistently successful results.
Now I make my own yogurt, eight 1-cup jars at a time, once a week. From beginning to end, the first part takes about 40 minutes and then the incubation period takes ten hours, while I am off doing other things. I usually try to get my yogurt in the incubator by 9:00 a.m., while I'm in the kitchen cleaning up after breakfast, so that I can put it in the refrigerator by 6:00 p.m. that night while I am in the kitchen cooking dinner. But I could just as easily get it going in the evening while I'm in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner and let it do it's thing all night while I am sleeping.
Eight hours seems to be the minimum time required, but I discovered, quite happily, that even 20 hours in the incubator will not ruin it. That's the longest period I have tested it to date.
One of the reasons that yogurt is relatively high in carbs is, early on, as yogurt became synonymous with "diet" or "health" food, it was never produced to be marketed as anything but "low-fat." The lower the fat, the higher the carb count because the carbs are in the whey or the liquid remaining after the cream is removed.
I'd like to insert here, however, that the first yogurt, created by accident, was made from high-fat whole goat's milk.
Yogurt, Health and Carb Counts
The advantages of yogurt to the digestive system nearly outweigh the carb count anyway. The bacilli in yogurt not only helps digestion it has been attributed to over-all good health for the intestinal track, and has been credited as a contributor to the resistance of colon cancer.
Interestingly, there now are some studies that question whether or not the carbs in fermented food, like yogurt, even count at all.
In a nutshell, the bacilli consume the whey in the milk, the by-product of which is lactic acid. This is what makes the yogurt set up and gives it the tang. But if the bacilli consume the whey, just as yeast consumes sugar to grow, then the question is begged, does the by-product effect glucose?
The jury is still out. In the meantime, I make whole yogurt and everyone who has ever tasted my yogurt nearly passes out from joy. It is both full bodied and creamy, not too tart and as rich as ice cream.
Using my recipe, even if the carbs do count, they are very low anyway. After the first bite you don't really care what's in it. It's win/win for Low-Carbers who love yogurt, though. If you, as I, are serious about staying the course and you have missed your yogurt, then read my process and recipe, adapt it to your own utensils and rediscover for yourself just how good yogurt can be. Follow the links below to get started.
April S Fields is a retired photo stylist and confessed sweetaholic. She lives in a small lake community in