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Did you know that eating well and delicious dishes can go hand in hand!? All it takes is some intelligent eating, an interest in culinary adventures, and the use of this webpage! Let me introduce myself. I am Katie Paige Haarala, and I am here to discuss how healthy eating can be delicious eating and how different foods can benefit your overall health and wellness! I look forward to discussing specific health foods and how you can incorporate them into your daily menu! For as La Rochefoucauld said, “To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” So, here is to eating intelligently, friends!

Enter Yogurt. The food that is ALIVE! Sound scary? It shouldn’t be! Yogurt is one of those superfoods that should be a staple in your daily dish and has been around since, well, before Bob Barker had even contemplated being on Price is Right. Actually, this fermented dairy product can be dated to the cuisine of Middle Eastern civilizations as far back as 2,000 B.C!

The benefits of this luscious treat are insurmountable and pack a 1-2 punch for your immune system! And of course, during the winter months (at least here in Minn-e-sota) our immunities always seem to be taking a hit. We’re cold. So we eat to warm up; then, we gain weight because we eat too much; then, we get stressed out because we are quite certain our right thigh has a mind of its own and has increased an inch or five overnight; then, we eat because we are stressed out about our increasing right thigh issue; then, less than healthy habits definitely catch up to us: the stress, the weight, and the lack of sleep are a recipe for a shot immune system. Shoot.

The immune benefits of yogurt actually stem from the fermentation process itself where the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are allowed to marry with the milk and produce lactic acid; this production equates to yogurt’s delectable tangy flavor and velvety texture. Of course, coupling this creamy delicacy with your favorite berry and some walnuts is a perfect way to kick-start your day (mmmmm! I saw you drooling. Don’t even deny it).

Proper selection of yogurt in your local grocer is crucial; the container must contain the stamp LAC (live and active cultures) from the National Yogurt Association stating there is at least 10 million live cultures per gram to ensure an adequate culture count. May I suggest sticking with plain yogurt as there are no artificial sweeteners, fillers, or added sugar? Simply delicious healthful probiotics in a container, and let me tell you, we love probiotics. 

Simply put, probiotics recreate a healthy balance in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract by introducing a plethora of “friendly” bacteria into your gut. The role of the microflora in our GI tract is immense; these guys help us breakdown and absorb the nutrients and energy from our food.  A double whammy is the fact that these microflora play a vital role in our immune system; it is speculated about 70% of our immune system is in our gut alone! 

Prebiotics have also been an area of interest. A prebiotic is basically a substrate or food for those probiotics found in the yogurt. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that are not readily digested by our bodies. The components of prebiotics are inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS).  These components can be found in bananas, whole grains, garlic, asparagus, honey, onions, and leeks.  So eat up and enjoy the nutritional and immunologic benefits!

Here are a couple ways to incorporate yogurt into your daily dish:

  • Use it as a base for your favorite fruit smoothie
  • Substitute plain yogurt for sour cream in any vegetable dips
  • Make a fruit and yogurt parfait with your choice or berries, walnuts, and a dash of cinnamon
  • Toss plain yogurt in with vinaigrette dressing to make a creamy substitute.
  • Yogurt can become a healthy alternative to many of your creamy dishes using mayonnaise or sour cream. 

There is no better time than right now to begin implementing yogurt into your daily menu. 

Enjoy Health! Enjoy Flavor!


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About Katie Paige Haarala

Kate Paige Haarala is a registered dietitian (R.D.) from Minnesota who has an undying passion for nutrition education and helping others incorporate healthy dishes into their daily menu.  She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Exercise Science. You can catch more of Katie on her blog by clicking here.