Tastespotting: What is up with the Frozen Yogurt Craze?

Tastespotting: What is up with the Frozen Yogurt Craze?

What is Tastespotting?

Every chef needs inspiration. But everyone finds it in different ways. One of my favorite sources of inspiration is the sides, flourishes, and accompaniments on a dish at a killer restaurant.

Sure, those lamb chops may be perfectly cooked, silky, grade-A New Zealand meat, but I can about the chickpeas in mint sauce underneath. (I’m talking to you Casa Mono. What is in that sauce??)

Instead of waiting until I find the perfect recipe to insert these babies into, I want to introduce you to these revelations as I find them.

Some of these items may be old news, and I apologize if I am occasionally woefully behind the times. But I hope you are able to find some new inspiration as well!

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Even Epicurious is Intrigued

A recent poll provides readers this fill-in-the blank:

I eat frozen yogurt (dairy or non-dairy) because:

  • It’s lower in fat and calories.
  • I like its taste better than ice cream.
  • I’m lactose intolerant.

Surprisingly only 20% of respondents said they liked the taste better. A whopping 68% eat frozen yogurt because it’s lower in fat and calories, while the remaining 12% of respondents said they were lactose intolerant.

Conspiracy Theories

I have heard a few other theories, most of a somewhat controversial nature, floating around in friendly conversation.

It’s green. Everyone knows the “green” food movement is huge right now, and the frozen yogurt chains certainly play this up.

Red Mango has a massive poster on the wall proclaiming how their yogurts use fresh (neven frozen) berries and that they are full of probiotics. Be still my secretly crunchy-granola heat!

The Asians love it. This theory comes from a friend of mine, so I really can’t take the super non-PC credit.

However, the theory goes that yogurt in general has always been a larger part of Asian diets than the typical American diet. Americans by and large only eat flavored yogurt and aren’t raised to appreciate the natural flavor of yogurt.

As places like Silicon Valley are flooded with foreign engineers, their favorite foods are not far behind. Think I am totally making this up? The number of Indian restaurants in the Bay Area is off the map compared to five years ago. There’s no reason the same forces couldn’t play into the yogurt craze.

More people are lactose sensitive. There has been a lot of news coverage in recent years of the rise of food sensitivities and the possible links between fast food and ADD and a variety of other maladies.

Along with the very large gluten-free movement, there are a lot more people going on lactose-free diets. However, not all of the people on either of these diets are actually, medically intolerant. Many have a sensitivity which is not a tagged genetic condition, but still causes them to be ill to one degree or another when ingesting either of these compounds.

Frozen yogurt is much easier on the system than ice cream (the probiotics certainly help). Many people who aren’t completely lactose intolerant find frozen yogurt to be a comfortable way to eat ice cream without the heavy cream.

How to Make Homemade Frozen Yogurt

Chain yogurt places like Pinkberry and Red Mango run at nearly five bucks for a cup with toppings. Chi chi boutique shops are just as unreasonable.

With the new wave of frozen yogurt stores being a real drain on the wallet, a lot of people are looking to get their fix at home.

Bay Area Bites has a very complete guide, including a three tasty recipes (peach, peanut butter, and banana).

The most interesting take-aways were:

  • whole fat and greek yogurts freeze better
  • straining yogurt for four to six hours results in a thicker, creamier finished product

Most importantly, Denise says:

It’s also worth noting that even when I used the more expensive organic and local yogurt varieties, the cost of a batch of homemade frozen yogurt still never exceeded $5

Have you been eating more frozen yogurt this summer than in the past? Do you make it at home or is there a new Pinkberry or Red Mango near you?

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