Saturday, September 16, 2006

Banana "Lassi"

I enjoy the taste of yogurt but I'm actually not all that keen on eating it. There's something about the gloopy texture that doesn't sit well with me. I also know that there are a lot of health benefits to eating it that make it a desirable thing to include in one's diet.

The yogurt pictured above is bifidus yogurt and is found in almost all Japanese supermarkets. This particular type has no sugar and tends to be relatively cheap. A 500 gram container costs about 160 yen on sale and around 200-250 yen regularly. You can get 3-5 servings from one container depending on how hungry you are.

Bifidus yogurt contains beneficial bacteria which are supposed to aid in digestion. There is also evidence that it lowers cholesterol. However, this particular brand is not low fat. It lists 3% under fat in the nutrition information. Being yogurt though, it's not exactly calorie-packed. The entire container is 325 calories.

In order to avoid having to eat yogurt in its normal state, I mix it up with my Braun multiquick hand mixer into a lassi-style drink. A lassi, for those who haven't had much Indian food, is a yogurt drink traditionally made with water and spices such as cumin or turmeric. Mango is sometimes used in such drinks but I prefer bananas because they are easier to get, cheaper, and far quicker to prepare.

Here's the recipe:

1 medium banana
3-4 heaping tablespoons yogurt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash or two of vanilla essence
1 cup low fat or skim milk (use more or less to taste)
1-2 packets of artificial sweetener (optional)

Blend with a hand mixer or blender until smooth.

The Morinaga bifidus yogurt comes with a little packet of sugar which you can choose to use to sweeten it. The crystals are large and look like small pellets. They resemble the confetti that you put on top of cupcakes. I'm not sure what is done to sugar to make it look like this but it's got to have some sort of funky artificial enhancement going on.

I've never actually used these packets because the reason I go out of my way to find sugar-free yogurt is to, well, avoid the sugar.

This drink makes an excellent, fast and cheap breakfast. Throwing one together takes about 5 minutes and the cost is about 100 yen per serving. At the very least, you can drink it with a piece of toast for breakfast to increase the nutritional value of your morning meal.

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