By Tami Weiser
Chock full of protein, loaded with calcium and potassium, Greek yogurt is, without a doubt, a great way to get dairy into your diet. Sure, you can have a cup of plain yogurt, but for nutritional bang for the buck, Greek yogurt soars to the top of the list. Most brands of Greek yogurt contain twice the protein of traditional yogurt, half the sodium, and half the carbohydrates of regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also is rich in probiotics, having been soured and thickened by these healthy, lactic acid-producing cultures. Probiotics can help maintain the balance of bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system and boost the immune system.
If you can’t tolerate dairy, Greek yogurt may be worth a try. It contains one of the lowest amounts of lactose in all dairy products. The lactose in yogurt is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial cultures, which may make it an option for some lactose-intolerant folks.
Frozen Yogurt Buttons, Nuggets and Barks
This popular technique is well-loved by home cooks, for good reason. You can put your favorite Greek yogurt into a bag to squeeze into dots to freeze, like food blogger Lady Behind the Curtain (I use a pastry bag to keep it neat, but she doesn’t and you don’t have to!). You can tuck spoonfuls of Greek yogurt into fun-shaped ice trays, like The Gracious Pantry, cut into neat squares with a swirl of with pomegranate seeds for taste and texture like May I Have That Recipe or simply smooth into a lined sheet pan, the base of a healthier bark, sprinkling it with your favorite dried fruits, seeds and nuts, like The Kitchn.
Yogurt and Fresh Herb Pies
Greek doyenne of healthy cooking Agalia Kremezi, shared this Greek island classic, which is a flavor-forward mini pie or patty. Other chefs, like David Tanis, suggest using chard leaves, which is a marvelously successful substitution, but feel free to sub any medium-textured leafy green with a little give, like savoy cabbage, lacinato kale, bitter dandelion greens or beet greens. Very tough leaved greens, like collards, take a bit too long to cook, and spinach falls apart. Though you could precook them and use them very successfully.
Dips, Dips and More Dips
The two mainstays of American dips are mayo and sour cream. Traditional yogurt is simply too liquidy to make a scoopable dip. Greek Yogurt to the rescue. For most dips, you can omit half of the sour cream or mayo, with delicious results, but the culinary minds at Kayln’s Kitchen, Pinch of Wellness and So Lets Hangout offer up tasty dips geared to showcase the tartness of Greek yogurt from the get-go.
Egg or Chicken Salad
Greek yogurt can be a healthy substitute for mayo in egg, chicken or tuna salad, but I find that recipes that take advantage of the tang are really the best tasting of all. For a better tasting turn on traditional versions, substitute no more than ⅓ of the mayo amount. It creates a better-balanced taste and texture than Greek yogurt alone. Two Peas & Their Pod combined the healthy value of Greek yogurt with both eggs and avocados, making one delicious egg salad. It Bakes Me Happy takes chicken salad a level up by matching the complexity of curry with the simplicity of chicken for a well rounded, satisfying meal. The Kitchn offers a fun take on deviled eggs, showcasing the power of smoked paprika but feel free to amp it up if your diet allows, by adding a pinch of a ground smoky, dried pepper, to taste ( think: aleppo or New Mexico chili powder), for a zesty addition.
Calling al Greek yogurt lovers! Did you know you can whip Greek yogurt into a fluffy mountain of yum,? Project Meal Plan has a great recipe that shows you how. With the addition of some heavy cream, Serious Eats’ Stella Parks offers up the most stable and most consistent version, with a gentle, if less tangy, edge. Both us small amounts of healthier sugars, (which successfully can be skipped over, if you aren’t having a sugary moment), making it a real win-win.
Creamy Sauce Alternatives
Chefs and home cooks alike love their creamy sauces, and the addition of Greek yogurt makes a vibrant, chilled sauce. From Gooseberry Mooseberry, here’s a smart take on hollandaise is a fun option for an eggs benedict over salmon, served atop a toasty slice of bread (if that is one your plan). Try it set on a slice of roasted sweet potato or a gluten-free buckwheat blini for an appetizer that will delight your taste buds and company. The US Dairy Council shares a tasty as all get out NOLA- inspired, Cajun Yogurt remoulade ready to top avocado stuffed with crabmeat.
Fun Takes on Salads
Yogurt in dressing really isn’t anything new and dips already live on this list, but sometimes in some salads, Greek yogurt makes the tastes and textures sing like no other ingredient. This recipe from Saveur is a summer and fall stunner, with layers of flavor that make it memorable. If you don’t have sumac, or cannot use it, a squeeze of lemon will do the trick nicely.
Drinks, Sweet and Savory
Somewhere between dessert and savory, yogurt-based sweet drinks, especially from South East Asian and Indian cuisines, are a health-packed, all-natural kitchen wonder. You may be familiar with classic mango lassi from Indian restaurants, but when Greek yogurt is subbed for thin yogurt, like in this clean recipe from Skinnytaste the result is in essence, a crazily healthy milkshake. There is a vast world of lassi’s and yogurt-based beverages common in this part of the world, most without any sugar added (not all). Spice Up The Curry has a terrific version of Masala Chaas, a spiced tangy buttermilk-ish milkshake, that is particularly satisfying during a mid-summer heatwave. This recipe for Kela-ka-raita from Saveur is yet another version, is full of fresh bananas and grated coconut, yet leans more toward savory, with a few black mustard seeds and plenty fresh cilantro.