Yogurt is more than just your mom’s favorite breakfast treat; it’s one of our most versatile and nutritious foods! Nutrition-wise, yogurt is an excellent source of potassium, calcium and vitamin D. Plus, because it is derived from an animal product (milk),yogurt contains all the amino acids required for a complete protein. A cup of Greek yogurt (8 oz.), a high-protein variety of yogurt, has approximately 21 g of protein- as much as a 3 oz serving of chicken!
Another benefit of yogurt is its probiotics, which are the healthy microorganisms introduced during the fermentation process of pasteurized milk. In order to be called yogurt, the product must contain at minimum of 100 million cultures of bacteria (usually Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium or L rhamnosus GG) per gram of yogurt. Most people diagnosed with lactose intolerance are still able to tolerate a 6 oz. serving of yogurt because probiotics break down some lactose in the yogurt, making it easier to digest. Many people credit probiotics with improving their health, especially gastrointestinal and skin problems. Research is still underway into the exact benefits of probiotics.
***Remember that yogurt is a dairy product and should be kept refrigerated. If left out (>40 degrees F) for two hours or more, discard it to prevent food-borne illness.***
Convinced to give yogurt a try? Here are some different ways to add yogurt to your diet:
1. Yogurt as a replacement for mayo or sour cream!
- Plain, low-fat yogurt makes a perfect low-fat substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in cold salads like tuna, chicken, potato, or macaroni salads.
- Try adding a spoonful to tacos or burritos in place of sour cream.
- Throw yogurt into a stroganoff or pasta dish for a healthy zing!
- Recipe Idea: Waldorf Salad
6 large apples, ~6 cups chopped (red or green)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup red or green seedless grapes
1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1 ½ cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
Directions: In a mixing bowl, combine apples, celery, grapes, nuts and raisins. Add non-fat vanilla yogurt to salad ingredients and chill.
2. Yogurt as a dip!
- Need a healthy, filling snack? Dip slices of fruit into flavored yogurt, or add cinnamon to plain yogurt.
- If you love carrots and celery with ranch, try this low-fat, simple substitute: plain yogurt with a few sprinkles of powdered ranch dressing mix.
3. Yogurt in a smoothie!
- Blend up a nutrient-rich smoothie with ½ cup yogurt and ½ cup of 2-3 of your favorite fruits! This is a great way to use your soon-to-exprie fruit.
- You can also create smoothie popsicles: simply pour your smoothie mix into Dixie cups and freeze.
4. Yogurt sauces!
- Using yogurt as a sauce foundation adds creaminess without the fat. For best results, use greek yogurt.
- Here are few ideas from Food and Nutrition Magazine’s Jill Melton MS, RD*.
a. Green Goddess Salad Dressing
½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
½ cup low-fat sour cream
½ cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup each chopped parsley, basil and oregano
¼ cup minced green onion or chives
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Directions: Whisk together all ingredients. Chill. Serve with greens or vegetables. Makes 1½ cups.b. Feta Yogurt Sauce
2 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint or parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
¼ teaspoon saltDirections: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Makes 2 ¼ cups.
c. Honey-Mustard Salmon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
¾ cup feta yogurt sauce
Directions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine the garlic, mustard, honey and pepper. Brush on salmon. Bake salmon for 15 to 20 minutes or until fish just flakes with a fork. Serve each salmon fillet with three tablespoons feta yogurt sauce. Serves 4.
*Melton, Jill MS RD. Get Sauce Series: Healthy Yogurt Sauces. Food and Nutrition Magazine. 24 Feb. 2014. Accessed 28 Aug. 2014.
5. Yogurt as a dessert!
- Frozen yogurt is typically lower in fat than ice cream. Throw individual containers of greek yogurt in the freezer for an easy, pre-portioned treat.
- Layering yogurt with fruit or granola into a parfait makes for an easy, gorgeous, and well-balanced dessert. Yogurt parfaits can also be served for breakfast!
- Recipe Idea: Breakfast Parfaits
1 c yogurt, any flavor (Greek is best!)
Fresh, Canned, or Dried Fruit (pick 1 or 2… examples: bananas, peaches, grapes, apples, raisins, or dried cranberries)
3/4 c granola or crunchy cereal
Directions: Add 3 spoonfuls of yogurt to the bottom of the cup. Cut up fresh or canned fruit into bite-sized pieces and put on top of yogurt. Sprinkle 1/4 c granola on top. Repeat to make 2 layers.
Hopefully, at least some of these tips and recipes have sparked ideas for you. Make today a yogurt day!