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When I was in my teens, and still retained some element of 'pester power', I always made my Mum buy Muller Light Vanilla yogurts. She'd bought them once on a whim and I fell in love with them; the perfect way to round off dinner (although I will ward off the temptation to review my Mum's cooking - I'm a good boy like that).
Of course, over time, as we try new things and grow out of old routines, I forgot all about them. I was still aware of Muller as a product, but the innocence was lost. I descended into the seductive and fattening world of profiteroles, tiramisu, banoffee pie, New York cheesecake… death by chocolate. I turned into a bad boy. The sort of dessert eater you wouldn't want your daughter to bring home.
Now, happily engaged and settled down, I find myself eating Muller Light Vanilla yogurt again. And this is what I think of it.
Muller - The Company
Muller produces a vast range of desserts, the most famous being the Muller Light, Crunch and Fruit Corner ranges. Their website, www.muller.co.uk, is crammed with information about the company; its roots (which go back as far as 1896), its values, and has nutritional information on each one of its products.
Something I admire about this company is its commitment to healthy eating and nutrition, particularly for children. In a world where food is often packaged and marketed with youngsters in mind, it is important that food manufacturers take their responsibilities seriously. The site has many booklets available, giving advice to parents about how to come up with new ideas and treats for kids, in spite of the pester power, and also has online tips about how much exercise people of all ages should be taking, and what their diet should and could be like.
That is not to say that the company does not produce desserts that can add a lifetime to the hips. Its Amore range includes a Cherry Indulgent Yogurt that contains 7.3g of fat in every 100g. Its Chocolate Digestive Crunch Corner contains 8.3g of fat per serving. But crucially, this is a producer that offers a choice. And for those seeking the healthier option, Muller Light fits the bill.
Each pot contains 200 grams. The information below is based on typical values per 100 grams.
Energy - 211 kJ (50kcal) Protein - 4.3g Carbohydrates 7.2g (of which total sugars) - 6.8g (sugars naturally from milk) - 4.4g Fat - 0.1g (of which saturates) - 0.1g Fibre - Trace Sodium - 0.1g Calcium - 135mg
So even without reading the advertising blurb, you can tell that this is a healthier dessert than most. Fat free, with only 100 calories in each pot and low in salt content, it is also full of calcium (apparently containing 33% of ones recommended daily allowance). It also contains no artificial colourings or preservatives.
The pot describes its ingredients as follows:
Fat free yogurt with sugar and sweetener. Ingredients: yogurt, water, fructose, modified maize starch, gelatine, flavourings, colours: carotens, curcumin; stabilisers: pectins; sweetener: aspartame; acidity regulators: citric acid, sodium citrates, contains milk. Contains a source of Phenylalanine.
Of course, one should always read the label if one suffers from any allergies or intolerances.
Price and Availability
Individually these pots cost 54p each at time of writing, although they are often on bulk offers (we recently bought 5 for £1 as Asda). Even at 54p each though, they are fantastically good value, especially for those seeking a healthy but delicious alternative at dessert time.
Naturally, they can be found in all supermarkets and good convenience stores. They have a good lifespan too, as the best before dates are usually well over 2 weeks after the date of purchase.
It is important to note that there are many other flavours in this Muller Light range, including strawberry, raspberry, toffee and cherry. Vanilla just happens to be the one I like the most.
Like all good products the packaging is simple but stylish. It comes in a plastic pot with a foil lid. The lid is predominantly white, with the red Muller logo at the top. Underneath the logo, the word "light" is stylised to look handwritten in blue and the flavour is written is dark brown. These colours are joined together by the picture of a vanilla flower still on its stalk, cast from the left of the lid to the bottom. It is the most striking feature of the packaging and helps with the natural feel of the product. The plastic pot is also mostly white, but the colours of the lettering remain the same as the lid; red for the logo, blue for the "light", brown for the rest of the type, which is set against a vanilla backdrop with a dark brown trim.
The circular pot is easy and light to hold, and the bottom narrows to about two-thirds the circumference of the top.
The dilemma with any taste test is how to describe it without coming over all Jilly Goolden. "Hmm, I'm getting vanilla, I'm getting creaminess, I'm getting yogurt…" Factually correct, but intensely irritating. So, let's peel back the lid and see what it's like.
The lid has a flap that is simple enough to hold and open. The foil top peels back and very rarely tears or leaves behind a residue on the plastic pot (perhaps it's only me that finds that annoying?). The top comes off very cleanly.
I suppose there are those who lick the lid first and those who lick it afterwards, like those who put milk into tea before the water and vice versa. I personally cannot resist licking the lid immediately.
The diameter of the pot is more big enough to accommodate a tablespoon, but I use a teaspoon to make it last longer. I then use the tip of the spoon to scrape round the dimpled rim of the pot to make sure I don't miss any of the yogurt. Then, I take the plunge.
My first sensation on tasting it, no matter what I've been eating previously, is tanginess. It is sweet, vibrant and rich. It is tangy in a good way, although this does dissipate as you eat on and get used to it. Thick without being chunky, creamy without being sickly, it glides off the spoon and seems to coat every part of your tongue, filling your mouth with the glorious vanilla flavour.
It is almost impossible to describe just how perfect the consistency of the yogurt is. There is no runniness, no watery dregs at the bottom of the pot, no skin on the top. It is constantly smooth and never loses its flavour. Each mouthful tastes as fresh as the first one. Some vanilla yogurts that I have tried in the past have tasted quite artificial, like yogurt with the essence of vanilla ice cream. There is something delightfully naturalistic about this yogurt. The blend of milk and vanilla here somehow finds the ideal balance.
When I say it constantly tastes fresh, it also has a wonderful aroma. I find the taste and smell really infuses my senses so that I am enjoying the yogurt for what it is, rather than judging it on what it adds to the rest of the lunchtime or evening meal. Sometimes, after a big meal, you just want something else to taste rather than fill you up again and this fits the bill exactly. It is light and airy and tops off a meal nicely. I have also had them at breakfast too, just as a light way to start the day if I don't fancy anything too heavy first thing in the morning, or just as an accompaniment to toast.
If, like me, you love the taste then the pot will not last you long at all! I would not recommend this for someone looking for a hearty afters - it generally doesn't last me two minutes! Those with greater restraint than me will probably get double that out of it.
Giving away secrets of yet more bad habits, after finishing I find myself licking the pot too. The recent adverts for Muller use the metaphor of licking the lid of life, as though licking the lid means you are the sort of person who likes to get the most out of everything. Does this mean that by licking the pot I am somehow 'hardcore'? Perhaps I've not quite reverted back to being a good boy just yet…
This light and 'good for you' dessert is the ideal way to finish off any meal. Full of zest and flavour, with a smooth texture that glides over the taste buds, it will leave a fresh after taste in your mouth whatever you have just eaten.
Ideal for children and grown ups alike, whether you want to give your kids a tasty, but healthy treat, or if you yourself are trying to cut back on the calorie intake, I have yet to find another yogurt on the market that manages to achieve that most desirable or blends - healthy, and so delicious you can't believe it's not naughtier than it really is.