Looking for something that’s versatile, easy to use, and can improve your health while saving you money? Sound impossible? It’s not when you have Greek Yogurt and recipes on your side! Forget about spending lots of money on those less-healthy pre-prepared yogurt cups when you can use a container of plain Greek yogurt and your own recipes. This fermented dairy product has beneficial probiotic bacteria, is lower in sugar, and provides protein for energy… but it does have a ‘tart’ flavor that’s not for everyone. That’s where recipes come in, because this creamy white food is your blank canvas for flavor and nutrition.
What is Greek Yogurt?
It’s the generic term for yogurt prepared by straining out most of the whey which makes it thicker and preserves the ‘sour’ or ‘tart’ taste. It is naturally lower in sugar than regular yogurt, and is made with beneficial live culture probiotic bacteria.
What type of Greek Yogurt should you look for?
Save money by selecting larger containers (not single-serve) of plain, unsweetened yogurt. You can scoop out however much you need for your recipe or serving. Any brand will work, but look for ‘live cultures’ for maximum benefit. Avoid “Greek-Style” because that can indicate added artificial thickeners, and avoid ‘no fat’ because the healthy fats in the regular yogurt help you absorb nutrients. This sets up your ideal clean slate for recipes.
You need recipes.
Greek yogurt lives up to its reputation for being ‘sour’ or ‘tart’. Plain Greek isn’t for everyone, (maybe you’ve tried it before) and kids especially aren’t going to choose it. With easy recipes, you’ll be surprised at how versatile it is. You can blend it in and make it undetectable, or have it as the star of the show from sweet to savory to frozen and more. Most containers don’t give much further hints than mixing in some ‘favorite fruit’, but that’s what articles are for: good ideas to get you started.
How about when the recipes are so easy, you can get an entire one in just a single sentence? If you’re meal prepping you can try this one on for size. Leave the peel on, and dice 1 sweet apple then, add it to ¼ cup water, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon raisins (golden or regular), 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 pinch of nutmeg & simmer on the stove for 8 minutes.
That’s it, that was the entire recipe & its instructions. Your yogurt topping is ready in 10 minutes and is much better for you because it is packed with fiber (apple peel & chia seeds) free from preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar, and you can change the taste simply by changing the type of apple. Since it’s make-ahead, this makes 2 servings you can keep in the fridge so breakfast (or snack) is at your fingertips when you put it on your Greek yogurt. (Add nuts for crunch!)
Yogurt for health
Of course, there’s the usual calcium for bone health, and protein for energy, but everybody knows about those. But how about boosting metabolism? “MedicalNewsToday” cites a study that suggests a higher protein diet may increase the amount of calories you might burn in a day. Probiotics are also on the list, they’re the beneficial bacteria that help you digest foods, stamp out invaders (like bad bacteria and viruses), and some of them even encourage your gut to produce serotonin, the chemical with the ability to reduce anxiety. Forget about side-effects, it’s time for side-benefits.
What doesn’t it have?
Fiber. Greek Yogurt is a fiber free food, and many people don’t get enough fiber in their diet… so what can you do? Have a consistent mix-in. Whenever you reach for the Greek, reach for the chia seeds. Unlike this yogurt they have zero flavor. Nobody can dislike them, and they’re packed with two kinds of fiber, plus their own protein, calcium and omega-3 oils. The seeds are also really tiny, they’re not going to get in the way of your soup, sauce, popsicle, smoothie, overnight oats, or spread. Cooked, raw or frozen, when you team up this yogurt and chia seeds, you’ll really be on track for healthy eating. Yet another benefit is knowing what probiotic bacteria eat to thrive and continue helping you… that’s right, it’s fiber! You can’t digest insoluble & soluble fiber, but these little helpers can. When you consume both at once, it’s a one-two-shot of nutritional power.
Because it isn’t flavor free like chia seeds, you do have to work with Greek Yogurt before you eat it. Fortunately it’s easy enough to play around with as you discover what you like best. It can go in pasta sauce for a touch of added creaminess (and the same thing in soups), you can use it in salad dressings (with the added benefit of healthy fats you’ll absorb more nutrients from the leafy greens-forget no-fat dressings!), and simply scooping a tablespoon or two into a smoothie is so easy.
However, it isn’t usually enough to simply ‘throw some fruit in’ and try to eat it. It isn’t regular yogurt, and you’re not going to convince any kids that way either. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to become a cook to be able to go beyond scooping and smoothies. If you’ve got a blender (of any type) you’re well on your way because you can add it to almost any home made popsicle recipe to make them creamy. (Like a banana, this yogurt doesn’t freeze solid very well, which yields the creamy texture) Overnight oats are also a smooth-textured creamy treat that’s ready for any busy morning.
This seems too simple to taste as amazing as it does but give this a ‘whirl’ in the blender jar: ¼ cup oats, ¼ cup almond milk, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, ½ cup Greek Yogurt, 1 frozen or fresh banana, 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional ½ teaspoon cinnamon and let sit over night, blend in the morning and enjoy. Of course, the mixture can also be frozen in pop-molds to be enjoyed later as well. If you’re interested in those pastel-colored smoothie bowls that are so popular on Instagram, Greek yogurt is a great way to achieve the hue you’re after, as well as the consistency to hold up the fancy toppings.
Where Greek Yogurt is thoroughly mixed in, is usually the best place for it. If you’re adding fruit, it’s better as a prepared somewhat-liquid topping, or all blended together like the recipe examples. This prevents too much of the tart flavor from ending up in a single bite. The best way to combat tart or ‘sour’ flavors is with natural sugars in fruits like bananas, raisins, pineapple & berries. In fact, you can have a tasty breakfast or snack if you mix ¼ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup pineapple slices (Fresh or frozen), about 4 fresh or frozen strawberries & a splash of plant milk in the blender. Going DIY with fresh or frozen fruit at home saves you from the really unhealthy levels of sweeteners companies add to their ‘fruit yogurt cups’. These days, what’s left out of the recipe can be as important as what you put in… when it comes to better health. With the guidelines & tips in place from this article, let the internet be your gold mine for ideas that suit your taste preferences. When you know ahead of time what’s likely to work/taste good, you can pick & collect winners to try in the kitchen at any time.