Monday, January 24, 2011

Siggi's Icelandic Skyr

Yesterday in the mail I received some gift certificates from Siggi's yogurt. The full name is Siggi's Icelandic style skyr. I love that name, "skyr". It invokes visions of a white-grey sky over a craggy, rocky Nordic mountainscape, the harsh land below riddled with snow and melting glacial ice caps.

Of course, I'm being unreasonably poetic, since skyr translates to "strained non-fat yogurt". However, my curiosity was definitely piqued, so  the next time I saw Siggi's in Whole Foods, I used my certificates to take home a few of these skyr yogurts to sample.

I chose to try the orange and ginger, plain, and pomegranate and passion fruit flavors. Other flavors include blueberry, acai, vanilla and grapefruit (!), but unfortunately Whole Foods either wasn't carrying these flavors or they were out of them. I would love to try a grapefruit yogurt, I would imagine that it would be fairly interesting to have such a citrus flavor in yogurt, but they do make lemon yogurt, so why not?

Acai reminds me of those incessantly annoying popup ads about the acai berry phenomenon (as seen on Oprah!), so that right there is a turnoff, but it might be nice to try the acai flavor without being forced to subject oneself to a dieting scam.

The skyr that I brought home were all delicious. I opened the pomegranate and passion fruit and was surprised by its pale color. I stirred it around but there was no syrupy, gelatinous fruity glop to stir up from the bottom, what you saw was what you got:

A virtually blinding white skyr, like the blinding white sky, or whatever. Anyway, the taste was quite unusual and difficult to describe: the mouth feel was unlike any yogurt I'd ever tasted - although it was a nonfat yogurt, it had a thick, creamy and almost cheesy consistency (slightly like farmer's cheese), in a sinfully delightful way (I go for that kind of thing, sorry to say) along with a nicely tart bite. The pomegranate and passion flavor was a delicious tangy combo and quite strong considering the paleness of the yogurt. The fruit flavors sprang out at you, and they were so unusual - by golly, I can't remember the last time I had a pomegranate (or passionfruit, for that matter) yogurt! So here we have unusual texture and quite different flavor, subtle yet significant.

The next  yogurt to try was the orange-ginger skyr. With this flavor, I have to say: YUM! I like orange and ginger just fine, together in a yogurt I'd had my doubts, but this yogurt had flecks of fresh ginger throughout the container. It was a spectacular combination, I never thought I'd like orange yogurt but it was really delicious and unusual. How often do you taste fresh ginger in anything processed? The ginger flecks were tiny exclamation points in a cup of creamy, tangy yumminess.

The plain yogurt was fine but without the fruit flavoring, it was excessively tart. It still had the dense, cheesy consistency, but was too tart to eat on its own. However, most people eat plain yogurt mixed with fruit or grain because it's too tart, so this wasn't atypical. I tend to mash banana into it, from a health food breakfast recipe that my sister served me years ago. Her version included a European skim ricotta that isn't available here, into which you mashed a banana and added the juice of one lemon, then topped with ground flax seed. It was quite yummy and kept the hunger dogs away until lunchtime. I've varied this recipe with nonfat Greek yogurt, banana and occasionally wheat germ or granola sprinkled on top. I mashed a banana into the plain skyr, and it was perfectly fine.

So my review of this yogurt is that it is unique, flavorful, filling and healthful. Compared to FAGE yogurt, it has a carbohydrate of 6g with FAGE 9g, sodium is 70mg with FAGE 85mg. However, protein is lower (17g vs 20g) and so is calcium (20% vs.25%). So the gain is mostly in a lower carbohydrate and sodium content.

Siggi's skyr is also more expensive than other yogurt, roughly double what you might pay for Brown Cow or Stonyfield Farm yogurt.

Siggi's skyr has some flavor selections, however, that you won't find in any other brand of yogurt. While Siggi's does carry the usual blueberry, vanilla and plain, the other flavors are atypical. I give it a thumbs up and suggest you try it, whether you are a yogurt fan or not. You will be in for a treat with an unusual consistency and flavor, satisfying and fat free.

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