Greek yogurt is everywhere these days. It is incredibly popular and has been for quite awhile. Why? Because it boasts health food benefits while maintaing an incredibly thick, decadent texture. But what exactly is greek yogurt, how does it differ from other yogurts and what do we do with it?
What is Greek yogurt and how is it different?
Greek yogurt is essentially yogurt that has been strained so that much of the whey, lactose and consequently, sugar has been removed. The taste is tangier and quite a bit less sweet. The texture, is rich, creamy and thick.
Nutritionists herald greek yogurt over regular because while it still contains all those beneficial probiotics that people love to talk about these days, it has nearly half the amount of sugar but twice as much protein. And is lower in carbohydrates as well!
Regular yogurt will give you about 9 grams of protein in a 6 ounces whereas greek yogurt boasts 15-20 grams for the same serving. That is the equivalent of 2-3 ounces of meat.
Choosing your yogurt
With the fast rise in popularity of this Mediterranean favorite, it’s important to do a quick scan of the back of the label before you toss it into your grocery cart.
Look for the products that contain only milk and live active cultures. There’s no need for added sugars and stabilizers. Keep it simple.
Greek yogurt does have quite a bit of saturated fat, so if this is a concern you can go for the low-fat or non-fat varieties. But again, read the label carefully. If they have to add in a bunch of unrecognizable ingredients in place of the fat it’s just not worth it.
What do we do with it?
Now here’s the fun part. What do we do with our greek yogurt?
1. Well, just to start I’ll often use it as a replacement for mayonnaise, sour cream or creme fraiche.
2. It sits on top of soups or gets stirred into them to become creamy and thick.
3. Egg salad and chicken salad get a healthy boost when I use greek yogurt instead of the gobs and gobs of mayonnaise that one would normally have to use.
4. For salad dressings it does wonders to add a creamy texture without all that, well, cream. Homemade ranch dressing is as simple as a cup or so of greek yogurt along with 1/4 cup of freshly chopped herbs (mint, dill, parsley, chives, etc.) with 1/2 clove of garlic finely minced, a good squeeze of lemon and a bit of salt and pepper. You can drizzle in some olive oil to thin it out a bit or add a couple of tablespoons of water or milk. I’ve also made an incredible Caesar salad dressing using greek yogurt as the foundation.
5. You can bake with yogurt in the same way you use sour cream.
6. Or drain the yogurt in cheesecloth overnight to make labneh, which is essentially cream cheese and use that in your baking as well or as the base for a tangy frosting.
7. There’s a new shop in Pike Place Market that is selling greek yogurt in much the same way as you see gelato. Rectangular stainless tubs filled with all sorts of variety. Here greek yogurt is the base and topped with everything from passion fruit to salted caramel. And it’s not all sweet.
8. What about a bit of greek yogurt topped with smoked salmon and dill. I saw that combination recently at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival where Chobani showed off many ways to serve yogurt.
9. In much the same way you would set up a ice cream sundae bar you could sub out the ice cream for yogurt at a breakfast or brunch gathering. Just have bowls of toppings available for your guests to customize their breakfast.
Drizzled with a bit of honey and topped with pistachios, cocoa nibs and dried cherries
Topped with avocado and mango
- Fresh fruit
- Cocoa nibs
- Smoked salmon
- Fresh herbs
- Dried fruit
11. For a quick yet decadent dessert try mixing yogurt with honey to taste then freezing in your ice cream machine. This frozen yogurt will rival any of those popular chains that are everywhere.