First, the nutritional stats: When compared to most regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has 2 times the amount of protein. In fact, 1 cup has as much protein as 3 ounces of chicken. It’s also rich in calcium (important for strong bones and teeth and a healthy heart and nervous system). Lastly, Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics, which improve digestive health by maintaining levels of “good” bacteria in the gut (make sure the label says “active cultures”).
Because 1 cup of fat-free Greek yogurt has just 120 calories and 0 grams of fat, it offers an excellent way to slim down recipes while adding tang. Even whole-milk Greek yogurt has just 190 calories and 9 grams of fat per cup (compare that to 1 cup of regular sour cream with 492 calories and 48 grams of fat).
Here are 16 healthy ways to make the most of it.
• Use instead of sour cream in macaroni and cheese and other baked pasta dishes.
• Mash with boiled potatoes for creamy mashed potatoes.
• Use to replace all of the milk and half of the fat (butter or oil) in quick breads, muffins, biscuits, cakes and coffee cakes.
• Jazz up plain Greek yogurt by pureeing with canned pumpkin; sprinkle cinnamon on top.
• Use in cheesecake recipes instead of sour cream.
• Blend with ricotta cheese and fresh herbs to create a healthy dip or sandwich spread.
• Place a dollop on thick stews and chili; fold in a little chili powder or ground cumin for added flavor.
• Use as a base for creamy salad dressings (add fresh herbs, lemon juice or vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper).
• Use between layers of angel food cake and fresh berries for the ultimate trifle.
• Puree with fresh avocado, lime, garlic, and cilantro for creamy and healthy guacamole.
• Use as a base for fruit smoothies instead of milk or juice.
• Use to marinate chicken, fish and pork; simply use Greek yogurt instead of oil.
• Add a little vanilla extract and use as a topping for angel food cake, quick breads, coffee cake and oatmeal.
• Create Greek yogurt sherbet by adding a little lemon juice, lemon zest and honey; freeze until firm. If desired, puree in a food processor before serving.
• Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and use as a glaze for breakfast muffins (banana, blueberry, bran), quick breads, pancakes and waffles.
• Use to replace half of the mayo in pasta salad, coleslaw, chicken salad and spinach dip.
Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.