Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Greek System

If you’ve been paying attention to the dairy case, you’ve noticed that it has expanded considerably in recent years. Alongside traditional blended and fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, Greek yogurt is taking up an ever-expanding share of the dairy section… and of the market. But what is Greek yogurt, and why is it so popular? what's so great about greek yogurt?

Traditional yogurt is made by fermenting milk with bacteria called yogurt cultures. These bacteria give yogurt its characteristic tart flavor and also give it some gastrointestinal benefits. During the fermentation process, liquid whey separates from the solid milk proteins and is strained away using cheesecloth. Traditional yogurt is strained twice, while Greek yogurt (also called strained yogurt) is strained three times. This extra straining gives Greek yogurt its thick consistency and extra protein: almost double that of traditional yogurt.

Strained yogurt has been a staple in the Middle East and Mediterranean for thousands of years, but it didn’t take off in the United States until the late 2000s when entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya founded Chobani in upstate New York. Chobani’s strained Greek yogurt soon became a staple in grocery stores, and by 2012, traditional yogurt brands like Dannon and Yoplait launched their own Greek lines. Now yogurt lovers can choose from among hundreds of Greek-style options, including full-fat, nonfat, low-fat, artificially sweetened, naturally sweetened, unsweetened, fruit-on-the bottom, blended, etc.

Chobani has added new products in recent years including a line that contains steel-cut oats—adding fiber and whole grains to an already healthy yogurt. They also have an indulgent line of dessert-style yogurts that include added toppings like chocolate sauce or white chocolate chips. Of course, it’s important to note that eating anything with chocolate sauce or other added sugars and fats can reduce the healthfulness of the food; this is as true for Greek yogurt as it is for anything else. It’s not a problem, however, as long as you avoid consuming excessive sugar on a regular basis.

Greek yogurt’s popularity has skyrocketed for a reason; the extra protein punch, the good gut bacteria, and the reduced carbohydrates all combine to make it a healthy addition to your breakfast, lunch, snack, or even dessert. Look for Greek yogurt in US Connect’s vending machines and Bistro To Go kiosks; it’s a Right Choice for a Healthier You™!

Going Gluten-Free

Of all the food trends of the decade, gluten sensitivity is one of the most controversial and misunderstood. Read on to get the facts about gluten sensitivity and how US Connect can meet these and other dietary needs.

going gluten free

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It is what gives bread its chewy texture.

Why Do Some People Have Issues with Gluten?

People with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, experience a severe disruption of the digestive process of the small intestine when they consume even a small amount of gluten. For celiac patients, gluten not only causes extreme gastric distress but can also lead to long-term damage of the intestine. Celiac disease is serious, but still relatively rare; only one percent of Americans has it (about three million people). Far more common—although studies have yet to show how common—is gluten sensitivity. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity causes a stress response, resulting in gastric distress. Many people with gluten sensitivity are self-diagnosed, and researchers have yet to prove the existence of the sensitivity. The diagnosis is often given as part of a process of elimination when all other possibilities have been ruled out. Nonetheless, many people report feeling better after eliminating gluten, so gluten-free diets have exploded in popularity.

What Does the Law Say?

In August of 2014, the FDA started requiring that foods which carry the “Gluten-Free” (GF) label adhere to a standard of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This helps people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity manage their diets with confidence.

How Does US Connect Help?

US Connect vending machines and Bistro To Go! kiosks offer a wide variety of fresh and packaged foods, many of which are gluten free. Note that while reducing gluten does not necessarily reduce carbohydrates (white rice, for instance, is gluten-free), many gluten-free options are also healthier for everyone, not just people following a gluten-free diet.