By Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN
What It Is
As if from Zeus' thunderbolts, Greek yogurt has been exploding in the dairy case of every market in America, and with good reason. The secret to making Greek yogurt is the straining process, which removes most of the whey (liquid) attached to the milk and leaves a thicker, tangier and more nutritious yogurt than the kind you used to drag around in your lunchbox.
The Dirty Deets
Mediterranean countries are famous for their healthful and delicious eats, but the Greeks win when it comes to knowing what to do with yogurt cultures. Their yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar and sodium than traditional yogurt. (Some varieties do contain a lot of sugar; stick to plain, low-fat Greek yogurt if that's a concern.) Calorie-wise, Greek and regular yogurt balance out pretty evenly on Themis' scales (she's the Greek goddess of justice -- I looked that one up), but there are good reasons to favor the flavor of Greek yogurt:
- You want to pack protein into your breakfasts and snacks because protein-rich foods keep you sated longer. You want to be sated. Being hungry stinks. Regular yogurt has more carbohydrates and less protein, so it digests faster. Greek yogurt will keep you fuller longer, and that makes the gods of your belly happy.
- Our fermented Greek friend supplies a healthy dose of bone-building and immunity-strengthening vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamins A, B12 and D. You could climb Mount Olympus with the nutrition packed into one 6-ounce bowl.
How To Chow Down
Eat Greek yogurt for breakfast with a tablespoon of flax meal and a half-cup of berries. It's easy, portable, satisfying and delish, and you may have been doing it for years already. Wondering what else you can do with it? Recipes abound.
- The rich, creamy texture makes Greek yogurt a perfect baking substitute in place of sour cream or oil. That means you can use it in your quick breads, cakes, muffins, pancakes, sweets and other baked goods.
- Yogurt also makes a great marinade for meat. It tenderizes the meat and adds a ton of flavor. The acids in the yogurt are like little massaging fingers that help to get all of the beautiful spices into the meat.
- If you're looking for an amazing dessert that will keep your bod in toga-shape, try dipping blueberries into Greek yogurt and freezing them. You could even puree the yogurt and the berries together and freeze them into popsicle molds for a healthier popsicle.
In The Know
If you haven't jumped on the "Greek is chic" bandwagon yet, it's definitely time to grab a spoon and hop on board. The best part is that you can stay loyal to your favorite brands from childhood, as they've all birthed a version of Greek yogurt. Just keep in mind that you're better off going for plain varieties and adding your own vanilla, honey or fruit. Those already-added flavors take up valuable nutrition space, and you need every bit of that Herculean fuel.