I love yogurt. Josh lives on it. Josh and I make it every week, and he usually eats most of it.

There are times that I don’t always have time to make yogurt, and I usually reach for some of the higher quality yogurts on the market. One of them is Yoplait, which is pronounced yo-play. I’ve been eating Yoplait since high school, and I have been thrilled by the recent (over the past five years) new flavors and textures that they have produced. Some of the flavors and products are a little gimicky – think Gogurt – but as a business that needs to stay in business, it’s important that it recognizes what customers are seeking and provides the products. They have developed higher fiber, whipped, and even dessert-like yogurts. Now they’ve also got their own Greek-style yogurt.
Traditional Greek-style yogurt is thicker, creamier, and richer-tasting than regular yogurt. Most of the recipes I’ve seen involve making a standard yogurt and straining it to remove some of the liquid, resulting in a pleasantly thick, creamy yogurt. I don’t know how Yoplait thickens their Greek yogurt, but I’ll find out and let you know!

Yesterday, Yoplait hosted a Great Snack Break webinar, and I was invited to interview Maria Menounos afterwards. You might recognize her name as one of the hosts of Access Hollywood. She has just written her book, The Everygirl’s Guide to Life (HarperCollins 2011), and she was promoting her book and Yoplait Greek Yogurt on the show. She described some healthful snack ideas and heralded the yogurt as a great way to control hunger, meet your nutritional needs, and maintain a healthy weight. She even demonstrated a yogurt dip recipe using the plain flavor Greek yogurt and some freshly chopped herbs. She said that this was much better tasting than the packaged Ranch flavored dips, which she said she hates. While hatred may be a little strong, it’s definitely preferable to reach for a low-fat yogurt-based dip over a sour cream or fat substitute dip, like you often find in the snack dip portion of the dairy section.

The webinar also had a registered dietitian who works for General Mills, Christina Meyer-Jax. She explained that not only is Yoplait Greek a great snacking option, Yoplait yogurt is one of the leading brands that has been fortified with vitamin D, making the calcium from the milk more absorbable and thus more bioavailable for the body. This is great news! We use vitamin D fortified milk in our homemade yogurt, and it’s great to see that commercial brands also use the fortified milks for their yogurts. I haven’t checked into her claim that Yoplait is one of the only brands that has vitamin D, but when you select a yogurt, make sure it has it.

Yoplait Greek also has twice the amount of protein as normal yogurts, because it is more condensed than the thinner yogurts. It provides 14 to 17 g protein per 6-oz serving. For snackers who need some value to their foods, the protein and fat from the yogurt make for a satisfying option. When we’re just slightly hungry but a little nonspecific about what we want to eat, we usually reach for yogurt. It’s sweet enough to meet a sweet tooth’s demands and hearty enough to fill the stomach better than crackers or chips. The thicker yogurt also provides a really satisfying mouthfeel, which makes it taste more indulgent.
I had the opportunity to do a one-on-one Skype interview with Maria after the presentation. What impressed me about her is how gracious she is. Of course, we expect celebrities to have big heads and be prideful about themselves, so when you meet a celebrity who seems not to behave that way, it seems unique. Maria is confident in herself and her experience, and it is very evident that the interview she gives and the book she writes will reflect her strengths. At the same time, she is similar to all successful professionals: she worked hard to get what she got.

The interview should be posted on Yoplait’s website soon, and when it does, I’ll be sure to share the link with you. I want to send a Thank You to my Alpha Phi sister who thought of me when they needed some food writers to fill some spots. It was a great opportunity and unlike that of the other interviews I’ve done.

Maria Menounos is coming to Seattle during her book signing tour. She’ll be at the University Bookstore on Monday, April 25th.  Go to their website for details.

Here’s the Yoplait PSA about their Greek Giveaway, too. Happy snacking!

The Yoplait Greek Better Snacking Sweepstakes

This spring, it’s delicious, fun and easy to get to know the new Yoplait Greek through The Yoplait Greek Better Snacking Sweepstakes on Facebook†. From March 21 through May 31, visit the Yoplait Greek tab on Yoplait’s Facebook page to enter to win a free Yoplait Greek snack pack. The lucky winners will receive Yoplait Greek offers and fun items to improve their snack time. Full rules are available on the Facebook page.

“We are thrilled to launch the new and improved Yoplait Greek with The Yoplait Greek Better Snacking Sweepstakes,” said Allison Curran, associate marketing manager for Yoplait Greek. “Yoplait Greek is a delicious, protein-packed snack to help make snack time more satisfying and fulfilling for women.”

Each cup 6 oz. cup of Yoplait Greek is packed with 14-17 grams of protein and available nationwide starting March 2011, for a suggested retail price of $1.19 per cup. Honey Vanilla and Strawberry flavors are also now available in 4-packs of 4 oz. cups, with 9 grams of protein per cup, at a suggested retail price of $2.99.

Like all other Yoplait products, Yoplait Greek is made with milk from cows not treated with rBST**. For more information on Yoplait Greek visit www.yoplait.com and www.facebook.com/yoplait.

*Yoplait Greek 14 g protein, regular non-Greek yogurt 5g protein per 6oz.

** No significant difference has been shown betweet milk from rBST/rBGH treated and non-rBST/rBGH treated cows

†NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. MANY WILL ENTER, FEW WILL WIN. Open only to legal residents of the United States, 18 years and older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 A.M. (central time) on March 21, 2011 and ends at 11:59 P.M. (central time) on May 31, 2011. For Official Rules, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, visit www.facebook.com/yoplait. Sponsor: General Mills Sales, Inc., Once General Mills Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55440.

About General Mills

One of the world’s leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Yoplait, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2010 global net sales of US$16 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.