More than 50 years ago, you would have had a hard time finding yogurt, any kind of yogurt, in the average American supermarket. The only people who bought it regularly were immigrants from yogurt-eating cultures and health-food store customers.
That was then.
Today, yogurt is found in nearly every refrigerator in the US. What’s more, yogurt’s growing sales have mostly been driven by people in their 20s. Greek yogurt is one of the hottest-selling varieties: It’s rich, almost decadent creaminess has made it a favorite among snackers and chefs alike.
Health Upsides of Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is made by simply straining off most of the liquid found in regular yogurt. This eliminates a lot of the carbohydrates and lactose (milk sugar), which makes the Greek variety a favorite staple for people on low-carb diets.
In addition to a reduced carb count, Greek yogurt offers more protein per cup than its standard cousin (along with minerals, including trace minerals such as zinc and iodine). If you get the whole-milk version (as opposed to low-fat or non-fat), you get a higher fat count, which helps stifle hunger.
Like all dairy products, yogurt provides calcium. What's more, as a fermented food yogurt also provides friendly microbes known as probiotics.
Greek Yogurt in the Kitchen
As convenient as it is for out-of-hand eating, Greek yogurt offers so much more to the dedicated foodie. According to nutritionist and food blogger Lauren Kelly, it “works wonderfully in many recipes, both sweet and savory.”
Be careful when reading labels in the store, advises Kelly, author of The Greek Yogurt Cookbook (Adams Media).
“It should say ‘Greek Yogurt’ and not ‘Greek-Style Yogurt,’” she notes. The latter “may be regular-style yogurt with added thickening agents such as gelatin” and other un-yogurt things. Kelly adds, “True Greek yogurt will not contain any of these thickening agents.”
Adding Greek yogurt to shakes is a common kitchen usage, as is adding fruit, nuts or granola to yogurt. You can also use yogurt in place of sour cream, mayo, cream cheese or crème fraîche in a cup-to-cup ratio, says Kelly.
Other substitutions, such as swapping yogurt for milk or buttermilk, require some thinning down; experiment as you go.
One common use of Greek yogurt is as a tenderizing marinade for meats—its thickness ensures it will stick to the food instead of forming a puddle in the bottom of the container. You should note that the yogurt will thin a bit if you leave it out of the fridge for any length of time (but you should always marinate meat in the refrigerator anyway, for safety’s sake).
Yogurt’s clinginess is also an advantage when it is used as a coating for baked salmon. Mix it with herbs beforehand to create a crispy crust that keeps the fish from drying out. (Don’t bake yogurt-covered fish in aluminum foil, however, to avoid having the acids react with the metal.)
You will want to thin Greek yogurt when adding it to baked goods; just don’t heat the yogurt too quickly, or the solids will separate out. For the same reason, always add Greek yogurt to a warm dish right at the end of the cooking time.
Greek yogurt can be a party planner’s best friend. Throw most of a packet of onion soup mix into a bowl of yogurt for a quick onion dip, or put yogurt along with roasted red pepper, onions and olive oil into a blender to create a flatbread topping.
Avocado Egg Salad
7 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1" pieces
2 tbsp low-fat, plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Source: The Greek Yogurt Cookbook by Lauren Kelly, CN. Copyright © 2013 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.