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Let's Eat: Rediscovering Frozen Yogurt

Yoforia store manager, Michael Guthrie, shared his thoughts on the renewed interest in frozen yogurt during my visit to the Sandy Springs location at Perimeter Pointe shopping center.

“Everything old is new again,” so the saying goes. Fashion, hairdos, music, movies and even frozen yogurt.

A new-breed of fun hip frozen yogurt stores, offering a myriad of creative flavors and toppings, have spawned a yogurt “culture club” revival - minus British rocker Boy George.

store manager, Michael Guthrie, shared his thoughts on the renewed interest in frozen yogurt during my visit to the Sandy Springs location at Perimeter Pointe shopping center. “Everybody wants to get in shape and eat healthier”, he said. “Frozen yogurt has less sugar and fat than ice cream. We use top quality ingredients and Stoneyfield organic yogurt in our products setting our stores apart from the rest.” 

Another thing that sets Yoforia apart is their generous help-your-self free sampling policy. “We believe in having folks try flavors themselves to see what they like”, Guthrie added. That works for me!

Frozen yogurt was invented in the 1970’s by H.P. Hood, a New England dairy products company. It gained popularity in the 80’s and early 90’s as a healthier alternative to ice cream.

It slipped into a deep freeze, for over a decade, until a recent resurgence in popularity fueled by trend-setting Pinkberry and Red Mango frozen yogurt franchises. Red Mango has two area stores - one in nearby Dunwoody, and Pinkberry has three metro Atlanta locations.

Just What is Frozen Yogurt?

Whether you call it fro-yo, Super Fro-yo, frogurt or frozen yogurt, the production process involves turning cultured milk into a frozen confection enhanced with fruit, flavoring, sugar or sweetener, stabilizers and milk. The culturing process creates the live and active healthy bacteria in frozen yogurt. 

An interesting fact on the National Yogurt Association’s website states, “The freezing process does not kill any significant amount of the cultures—in fact, during the freezing process the cultures go into a dormant state, but when eaten and returned to a warm temperature within the body, they again become active and are capable of providing all the benefits of cultures in a refrigerated yogurt product.“  

Those benefits include being a nutrient dense food, boosting the immune system and an easier to digest treat for the lactose intolerant. 

Health bonuses aside, the proof is in the tasting, or why bother?  

Frozen yogurt fans tend to fall into two camps, those preferring their flavors either sweet or tart. I side with the tart camp enjoying a subtle tanginess or pucker-power finish to my frozen yogurt, while my family prefers sweet flavors akin to ice cream.

Fortunately, the new wave frozen yogurt shops allow you to create your own combinations so you don’t have to settle for one or the other. in Sandy Springs offers 16 flavors that change every few weeks, plus over 40 tempting toppings to customize your treat.   

The two stores in Sandy Springs keep things fresh by rotating their flavors as well. They have a staple of 12 flavors and 32 different toppings to choose from including fruit, nuts, candy, cereals and Japanese mochi.

The two C's of Frozen Yogurt

The only down-side to going out for frozen yogurt can be the two C’s -  cost and calories.

With the over-sized self-serve cups just begging you to play fro-yotender, it’s hard not to get carried away mixing and matching fun flavors and exotic toppings. Most stores charge 39 cents to 49 cents an ounce. Once you add a sprinkling of toppings, the cost can easily add up to $3-4 dollars per visit.

One way to satisfy your inner frozen yogurt mix-ologist is by creating your own flavors at home. Here are a few tip and recipes to get you started.  Dig-in and enjoy going-with-the-fro!

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Tips:

- Plain non-fat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt is denser, resulting in a creamier texture, though often an acquired taste. Some brands are more tart tasting similar to sour cream. Try ones with vanilla or honey added, if you prefer a sweeter flavor.

- If substituting agave for sugar, use less since it’s sweeter and too much of the liquid thins your base. You may need more or less sweetener depending on the tartness of the yogurt.

-Good flavoring agents include spices, citrus zest, all-fruit jams, chopped nuts, coffee and cocoa powder.

-Make the yogurt base a little stronger than you like since freezing weakens the flavor.

-Let frozen yogurt sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften before serving.

Limóncello Gingersnap Frozen Yogurt                                       Makes about 1.5 qts.

4 cups non-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

1 large lemon, zest whole lemon and juice of  ½ lemon

1 tsp. Limóncello liquor (non-alcoholic version: omit liquor and use juice of whole lemon)

½ cup sugar

2/3 cup crushed gingersnaps

Chopped crystallized candied ginger, chopped (optional topping when serving)

Combine yogurt, lemon zest, juice, Limóncello and sugar in a blender. Process until smooth; refrigerate for 1hr to chill. Process in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.  Stir-in crushed gingersnaps before packing mixture into containers. Cover top with plastic wrap, seal and freeze.

Mocha Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt                                                    makes about 1.5 qts.

2 c.  non-fat or reduced fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

2 c. light Chocolate Silk or Chocolate Milk

1 Tbsp. instant coffee

1 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c.  sugar

Mix ingredients in a blender and refrigerate for 1hr. to chill base.  Process according to ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.  Pack into a container and cover top with plastic wrap before freezing.

Pistachio Pomegranate Swirl Frozen Yogurt                                           makes about 1.5 qts.

4 cups non-fat vanilla or reduced fat plain   Greek yogurt

½ cup finely chopped pistachios, plus 2 Tbsp. for topping

 5 Tbsp. honey or 1/3 c. sugar

3 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses, at room temperature

Mix all but pomegranate molasses in a blender. Process until smooth and pistachios well-blended; mixture should be light green.  Refrigerate 1hr. to chill base before following ice cream manufacturer’s instructions to process.  Pack frozen yogurt into containers, drizzle lines of pomegranate molasses on top. Use a knife to run deep zigzags between lines to swirl pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle top with reserved pistachios and cover with plastic wrap before placing in the freezer.

Marilyn Baron July 12, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Beci, I'm not a big yogurt fan but your homemade yogurts look delicious, especially the cinnamon and pistachio flavors. My daughters love yogurt and have been to the stores you mention in your article. If I eat frozen yogurt it has to have a lot of toppings. But I might give these stores a try.
Beci Falkenberg July 13, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Thanks, Marilyn. I hope you will give these frozen yogurt stores a try since they have such a large selections of great flavors...some more like ice cream that you might enjoy.
Kathy Powell July 18, 2011 at 12:44 PM
The Yoforia at Perimeter Mall has a $1 coupon good until this Thursday, the 21st. http://couponclipper.com/loc/YOFORIA1

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