Now Reading
Going Greek



— September 15, 2018

Going Greek

  • More people are reaching for this thick, creamy form of yogurt.

More than 50 years ago, you would have had a hard time finding yogurt, any kind of yogurt, in the average American supermarket. The only people who bought it regularly were immigrants from yogurt-eating cultures and health-food store customers. That was then. Today, yogurt is found in nearly every refrigerator in the US: We consumed nearly $9 billion worth of the stuff last year, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts. What’s more, yogurt’s growing sales have mostly been driven by people in their 20s. Greek yogurt is one of the hottest-selling varieties. It’s rich, almost decadent creaminess has made it a favorite among snackers and chefs alike.

Greek Yogurt Nutrition, By the Numbers
In one half-cup of whole-milk Greek yogurt, you get:
10 grams Protein
5.5 grams Fat
11.5% Daily Value Calcium

Health Upsides

Greek yogurt is made by simply straining off most of the liquid found in regular yogurt. This eliminates a lot of the carbohydrates and lactose (milk sugar), which makes the Greek variety a favorite staple for people on low-carb diets. In addition to a reduced carb count, Greek yogurt offers more protein per cup than its standard cousin. If you get the whole-milk version (as opposed to low-fat or non-fat), you get a higher fat count, which helps stifle hunger. And like all dairy products, yogurt provides calcium, which not only helps build bone but is also crucial to proper muscle function.

The health benefits of yogurt, kefir, traditionally made pickles, kimchi, and other fermented foods is that they all provide probiotics. These friendly intestinal microbes not only help you digest your food but also help to keep the bowel wall healthy so that foreign matter doesn’t pass through into your bloodstream, a situation you definitely don’t want.

Greek in the Kitchen

For a lot of people, their involvement with yogurt begins and ends with throwing a store-bought container into a backpack before heading out the door. That’s fine as far as it goes, but Greek yogurt offers so much more to the dedicated foodie. According to nutritionist and food blogger Lauren Kelly, it “works wonderfully in many recipes, both sweet and savory.” Be careful when reading labels in the store, advises Kelly, author of The Greek Yogurt Cookbook (Adams Media). “It should say ‘Greek Yogurt’ and not ‘Greek-Style Yogurt,’” she notes. The latter “may be regular-style yogurt with added thickening agents such as gelatin” and other un-yogurt things. She adds, “True Greek yogurt will not contain any of these thickening agents.” Adding Greek yogurt to shakes is a common kitchen usage, as is adding fruit, nuts or granola to yogurt. You can also use yogurt in place of sour cream, mayo, cream cheese or crème fraîche in a cup-to-cup ratio, says Kelly.

Other substitutions, such as swapping yogurt for milk or buttermilk, require some thinning down; experiment as you go. One common use of Greek yogurt is as a tenderizing marinade for meats— its thickness ensures it will stick to the food instead of forming a puddle in the bottom of the container. You should note that the yogurt will thin a bit if you leave it out of the fridge for any length of time (but you should always marinate meat in the refrigerator anyway, for safety’s sake). Yogurt’s clinginess is also an advantage when it is used as a coating for baked salmon. Mix it with herbs beforehand to create a crispy crust that keeps the fish from drying out. (Don’t bake yogurt-covered fish in aluminum foil, however, to avoid having the acids react with the metal.) You will want to thin Greek yogurt when adding it to baked goods; just don’t heat the yogurt too quickly, or the solids will separate out.

Who needs expensive facial masks made with who-knows-what ingredients? This simple recipe from the blog Hello Glow ( raids the fridge for a mask that serves as a gentle scrubbing agent and natural cleanser.
> 2 tbsp whole-milk Greek yogurt (organic preferable)
> 1–2 tbsp honey
> squeeze of lemon
> a few blueberries
Blend all ingredients into a creamy paste; apply liberally to face and neck with fingers or a brush. Leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Apply moisturizer afterward

For the same reason, always add Greek yogurt to a warm dish right at the end of the cooking time. Greek yogurt can be a party planner’s best friend. Throw most of a packet of onion soup mix into a bowl of yogurt for a quick onion dip, or put yogurt along with roasted red pepper, onions and olive oil into a blender to create a flatbread topping. If sales figures are any guide, Greek yogurt is here to stay. How fortunate that there are a ton of creative ways you can put it to good use.

Avocado Egg Salad
In addition to the silky texture of the yogurt, Lauren Kelly says the avocado “not only adds to the creamy texture but also contains heart-healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.”

7 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cooled 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1″ pieces 2 tbsp low-fat, plain Greek yogurt 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 green onion, finely chopped 1 celery stalk, finely chopped 1 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper

1. Separate the whites and the yolks of the eggs. Set aside 3 yolks for another use. Dice the whites.
2. In a large bowl, combine the avocado, egg yolks and yogurt. Mash until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
3. Mix in the lemon juice, onion, celery, paprika, salt, and pepper.
4. Gently add the chopped egg whites and fold to combine. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

© Copyright 2020 Discover Life Magazine. All rights reserved.