I have a confession. I do not like yogurt. I know, at this day and age we are all supposed to be working on our “gut health” and doing all the probiotic things, right? Yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, etc. We always had the little tubs of individually packaged yogurt with flavors that gave their best shot at being strawberry, blueberry, or vanilla. I found myself choking them down, because I felt like I had to. Thankfully, I found a new way.
One of the many ways my diet changed and compromised when I married my husband is the introduction of buying large containers of plain yogurt. He did this for the sole purpose of mixing it with peanut butter (in and of itself revolutionary to me), but I have since branched out into other flavor profiles. The simple act of flavoring my own yogurt eased years of resentment toward the fake little fruit tubs. It is now one of my favorite snacks.
There are a few things I love about buying and flavoring plain yogurt.
You can control the amount of sugar. Often, store bought yogurts have upwards of 10g of sugar per cup. I have even seen sneaky tubs with 20+ grams per cup. For a frame of reference, honey buns have 13g sugar, and that would not be my first choice for a filling, long-lasting snack.
The flavor options are endless! If you ever feel bored of your yogurt, change it up. It has helped keep my interest over the years.
Whole milk plain yogurt is filling. Typically I offer yogurt for a snack, which means the fat from whole milk yogurt keeps me and my toddler full until the next meal time. My dairy free toddler alternates between coconut milk yogurt and almond milk yogurt.
Not sure your toddler will go for plain yogurt? My favorite way to offer yogurt for kiddos is to let them decide what toppings they want on it. I put 2-4 small bowls of toppings for them to choose how much and which ones to sprinkle, dump, or spoon in.
We had a large number of toppings pictured, because we had family over and the cousins had a yogurt bar. For everyday yogurt, I would limit it to 3-4 choices for ease of execution. Here, we used (from left to right) chopped fresh strawberries, chia seeds, collagen peptides, coconut granola, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, chopped blood oranges, quartered kiwi berries, ground flax seeds, mini dairy free chocolate chips, and sliced bananas. Ella’s cousin called the chia seeds “sprinkles”, which I loved.
Why the toppings served separately? This gives the child a sense of autonomy and control over what food they are eating. Mystery ingredients, especially in a thing like yogurt, can make a child more suspicious of a new food. If they see what they are putting in, you may be surprised what they choose. I was shocked that both 3 year olds put all of the topping choices in. I would recommend rotating through toppings so that they don’t get stuck in a food jag, always wanting the same thing. If they don’t get used to having bananas in their yogurt every day, they won’t expect bananas in their yogurt every day. It’s a great way to encourage variety in their diet.
When I am including new things in her yogurt rotation, I am sure to keep at least one topping I know she’ll love. For the cousin yogurt party, I included strawberries, bananas, and mini dairy free chocolate chips to ensure at least something both kiddos liked would be put in the yogurt. Having those familiar foods will make them more likely to branch out and try new things.
Pro tip: eat yogurt with them! If you have the same yogurt bar set up, they will see what you are choosing. If you are eating the same thing in your yogurt every morning, they notice that too. They mimic almost everything we do as parents, and food is no different.
What are your favorite yogurt toppings?