There are plenty of reasons to incorporate plain, lowfat Greek yogurt into your diet. Ounce-for-ounce, it has more than twice as much protein as regular yogurt, with a fraction of the carbs and sugar. It is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, and a 6-ounce carton has the potassium equivalent of a banana. Greek yogurt is also rich in probiotics and relatively low in lactose, making it suitable for some people with lactose intolerance.
Not everyone loves the tart and densely creamy stuff, though, even dressed up with the typical parfait-style toppings like fresh fruit, nuts and granola. Fortunately, Greek yogurt is incredibly versatile, so there’s sure to be at least a few ways it will please even the pickiest of eaters. Here are 15 easy and creative ways to enjoy Greek yogurt.
Popsicles. Blend plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. Add a bit of your sweetener of choice (optional), and experiment with add-ins like herbs and spices. Some of my favorites include mango with chipotle, blueberries with basil, and pineapple with cilantro. Nut butter with cocoa powder is always a crowd pleaser, or keep it simple with a little honey and cinnamon. Fill ice pop molds with your creation, and you've got a low-sugar, protein-rich summertime treat. (Tip: Lowfat Greek yogurt tends to have a better texture when frozen, compared to fat-free).
Creme Brulee. Greek yogurt can be used in place of heavy cream in this luxurious treat. Really.
Cheese sauce. I had to try this one to believe it. But seriously, melt equal amounts of shredded reduced-fat cheese and plain Greek yogurt over low heat, and you've got a deliciously savory cheese sauce that pairs perfectly with veggies, grilled fish or a low-carb side dish like whipped cauliflower.
Soup. Add a creamy consistency with a few spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt. Just wait until the soup is removed from the heat, to avoid curdling.
Deviled eggs. This one is super simple. Just use Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise in your favorite deviled egg recipe for fewer calories, less fat and more protein.
Dips. Use plain Greek yogurt (I prefer the texture of lowfat yogurt in dips, not fat-free) in place of mayo and/or sour cream in your favorite savory dip recipes. Think spinach dip, crawfish dip, even plain old ranch dip. I promise no one will even know the difference and the options are limitless!
Sour cream swap-out. Use a dollop of Greek yogurt to top lean chili, tacos or a taco salad. Same tart creaminess, for a fraction of the calories.
Chicken salad. Or tuna salad, egg salad, whole wheat pasta salad, you name it.
Salad dressing. This is another you-really-can't-mess-it-up idea. Simply blend plain Greek yogurt, a bit of milk and herbs or spices of choice, and you've got a low-cal, flavor-packed homemade salad dressing. One variation that I really love: Greek yogurt, minced garlic, cilantro and a splash each of olive oil and milk.
Party platter with fresh fruit. This easy, tasty dip goes great with fresh fruit. Blend lowfat Greek yogurt, sweetened of your choice, a dab of vanilla extract and nut butter until it’s thoroughly whipped and creamy. Want to make it richer and thicken? Add in some reduced-fat cream cheese.
Smoothies. See our popsicle combos above, and repeat for a smoothie that's perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or a breakfast on the run. Think of Greek yogurt as your protein-powder replacer.
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Butter substitute. Use plain, low-fat Greek yogurt in place of half the amount of butter called for in a recipe. For example, instead of one cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and half a cup of Greek yogurt, and save 725 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat.
Oatmeal protein booster. Greek yogurt may not be a conventional oatmeal ingredient, but it'll add a tanginess, along with a hefty dose of protein and probiotics to your morning bowl.
Add nut butter. Or powdered nut butter. Stirring in a spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter or any other nut butter to impact the taste and texture enough to make Greek yogurt palatable for even the strongest haters. And now powdered nut butters like PB2 are becoming more widely available, adding the same peanut-y flavor for about 75 percent fewer calories.
Add protein powder. It may seem odd to add more protein to an already protein-rich product, but many of my friends and clients really love a scoop of their favorite protein powder (usually chocolate), stirred into a carton of lowfat Greek yogurt.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner’s Eat Fit nonprofit initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s columns + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com.