7 Unconventional Uses for Greek Yogurt

It is not very often that you find my refrigerator without a container of non-fat Greek yogurt, and for good reason.  Sure it’s become a very popular item, you’ll notice there are more commercials and yogurt brands pushing this Mediterranean variation than ever before.  Maybe YOU even indulge and like the taste or texture better than regular yogurt. If so then good for you, because what you might not be aware of is how many ways Greek yogurt beats out regular yogurt AND can replace tons of other ingredients with higher fat content. I always try to be aware of what I’m putting in my body, so I was delighted to find the positive reinforcement of so many health benefits of this food that I already love!

So here’s the skinny on one of my favs and how you can use it stick to your “New Year, New You” plans or feel a little less guilty eating food you love:

                Non-Fat Yogurt                    Plain Non-fat Greek Yogurt

regular yogurt nutrition factsgreek yogurt nutrition facts

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Greek is lower in sugar than regular yogurt – this is due to the straining process undergone to develop the thicker texture. More of the lactose, or milk sugar, is removed which also is helpful for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • High in protein – this makes it an ideal snack or added ingredient because it will keep hunger at bay for longer that regular yogurt; or any other high-carb/low-protein snack for that matter. Because of the fermentation (culturing) process in producing yogurt the protein found in this super food is also easier to digest.
  • Probiotics– yogurt contains healthy bacteria and yeast that facilitates digestion, especially in the colon. It contains Lactobacteria, which helps to fight off the harmful bacteria and keep waste from transforming into carcinogenic acids. In this way it also helps to lower the risk of colon cancer and other colon diseases. {ask dr. sears}
  • Calcium – it is high in calcium and again, the cultures make it easier for the body to absorb the mineral that aids in bone strength, healthy heart and nerve function, blood flow, and preventing excess growth of cells lining the colon.

 

So now you know how good Greek yogurt is for you, but what are you going to do about it? If you have decided to clean up your diet, or just have a lifestyle that embraces healthier variations of your favorite foods, this list of unconventional uses will help you! 

Ways you didn’t know you could use Greek Yogurt:

  • In place of sour cream – for me this means every way from topping tacos or quesadillas to mashed potatoes. The taste is very similar so it is great as a stand-alone or to replace the use of cream and/or sour cream in mashed potatoes. I don’t have a specific recipe that I follow (usually just eyeball or to taste) but if you find that your mashed potatoes are thicker than you would prefer you could also use low-sodium chicken broth along with it to take the place of milk.

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  • In place of mayo – think anything from sandwiches to tuna or chicken salad to deviled eggs. I know you may be thinking “yogurt & tuna?” and so did I at first. Because I was a little nervous I also used some spicy multigrain Dijon mustard, chopped up some red onion and celery, and my tuna salad tasted better than ever! Personally, I’m totally sold on this idea. (Side-note: you can also add siracha sometimes for a little extra kick)
  • Guacamole – if you aren’t a Trader Joe’s enthusiast like myself, you have probably never had the golden opportunity to try the reduced guilt guac, and I’m sorry for you. Now that my addiction has progressed, whenever I buy guacamole I half it with Greek yogurt (and sometimes some fresh garden salsa for added flavor). Again, I think it tastes even better with the yogurt, and by using fat-free you can reduce the fat, and the guilt!

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  • Other dips – it can also be used to cut calories ranch and you can make your own tzatziki sauce or spinach & kale dip. For ranch dressing you can buy dry ranch seasoning and mix with Greek yogurt as a base.  Also check out a couple of these simple recipes. I always use non-fat even if the recipe doesn’t call for it and skip the mayo, however it will affect the thickness.

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  • Froyo – it’s true, you can absolutely make your very own froyo at home! The key to this, as mentioned in the recipes, is the extra straining of the yogurt with a cheesecloth. I’m sure not everyone has cheesecloth handy for day to day use but you can either order some online or stop by Bed Bath & Beyond and grab one for under $5.

Pasta sauce – Don’t knock it until you try it! When this was first suggested to me I cringed, and I love Greek yogurt. But thankfully I always keep an open mind when it comes to food and was willing to give it a shot. What I found is that you can not only add it to your marinara or other jarred or canned sauce (to make something similar to a vodka sauce) but you can use the yogurt alone! Here are a few recipes that I highly recommend for you to try (I attempted to find the easiest ones).

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  • Marinade – now this one may even be more shocking than the pasta sauce. I have used Greek yogurt as a marinade for chicken and it does, in fact, keep the meat just as tender and juicy. I mixed some Greek yogurt with crushed garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and allowed the chicken to marinate for a couple of hours and was very happy with the outcome.

So now that you are equipped with this knowledge I encourage you to try one (or all) of the ways you can utilize this healthier option, and let us know how you like it or feel free to share your own recipes!

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