In the past few years, Greek yogurt has become the unofficial ruling breakfast of workout champions. Barre-class lovers to professional triathletes sing its protein-and-probiotic praises, packing their fridges with it, and stopping by yogurt bars to refuel. But can a Nordic rival upset its reign, Vikings-style?
Skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt that’s been around since the 9th century, is showing up more and more in the United States, and its nutrition profile is fit to do battle with (and in some cases beat) its warmer-weather counterpart.
“A lot of Icelanders eat it at least once a day,” says Smári Ásmundsson, the founder of the newest skyr on the scene, Smari, who moved to California from Iceland 20 years ago. “This was the food I missed the most.”
For good reason, since skyr is ridiculously delicious. Its thick, creamy texture lies somewhere between yogurt and custard. It’s tart, but slightly less so than Green yogurt.
And Ásmundsson’s made his yogurt even more appealing to health-conscious types by upping the nutrition ante.
Smari’s plain skyr, which he spent 10 years tweaking and perfecting, is made with just skim milk and live cultures. A six-ounce cup contains an amazing 20 grams of protein with just 100 calories and 0 grams of fat. For comparison, Siggi’s plain cup has 14-15 grams of protein; Skyr.is contains 19. (All of the brands also sell flavored versions that have slightly varied nutrition profiles.)
What’s really novel about Smari is that it’s the first skyr to be USDA-certified organic. It’s made with milk from “grass-fed, happy cows that live on a farm in Wisconsin,” which Ásmundsson says he hand-picked.
This fact alone will have it competing not just with other skyrs, we suspect, but with Greek yogurt, since so few companies making that popular breakfast food are organic. And so many more people seem to be noticing. —Lisa Elaine Held