You might say I have a “thing” for Greek Yogurt! My love affair with this fresh and creamy delight began a couple of years ago when tried it with some frozen blueberries (OH MY! Sooooo good!) and hasn’t stopped yet!
When my daughter-in-law Kaitlyn said she wanted to do a post about the many benefits and uses of Greek Yogurt I couldn’t believe I hadn’t ever thought to do that before! I’m so glad SHE did because this stuff is amazing! Who knew there were so many great ways to use Greek Yogurt? Definitely not me! But I do NOW!
I was introduced to Greek yogurt a couple of years ago when Jill fell head over heels in love with it. It was hard not to notice the SEVEN different posts she’s done on this delicious food:
Honey Lemon Greek Yogurt
Foolproof Crockpot Greek Yogurt
Crockpot Greek Yogurt
Frozen Peach Greek Yogurt
Frozen Blueberries and Greek Yogurt
Blueberry Greek Yogurt Kabobs
Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberry Bites
Most of the time I use it in the traditional way – in a parfait with granola and fruit or mixed into a smoothie for a morning protein boost. But over the last year or so I’ve read more and more about all the wonderful uses for Greek yogurt.
I told my husband I was working on this post and he asked, “So what’s the real difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?” All I could tell him was, “Ummm…more protein?” I decided to do a bit a research and find out what the differences are and if Greek is really the healthier yogurt.
So before we get into its uses, here is a little Greek yogurt primer…
Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt
First of all…Greek yogurt isn’t necessarily made in Greece. It’s actually the method of making the yogurt that originated in Greece.
All basic yogurt is made by adding streptococcus thermophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria to milk. Try saying those names 5 times fast! ;) The bacteria causes the milk to ferment which is why yogurt has a slightly tangy flavor that is usually associated with alcoholic beverages or other fermented foods like sauerkraut.
I couldn’t find a definitive answer about the next step in the process so if anyone reading is a professional yogurt maker feel free to chime in. Some sources I read said that after fermentation regular yogurt is strained twice to remove some of the liquid whey. Other sources said that regular yogurt is not strained at all. But just about everything I read said that Greek yogurt is strained at least three times to remove almost all the liquid whey.
This extra straining makes Greek yogurt more concentrated than regular yogurt, which accounts for its tangy taste, thick, creamy texture and also its nutritional differences.
Greek yogurt has nearly twice the amount of protein of regular yogurt. A 6-ounce serving usually contains about 15-20 grams! It also has about half the sugar, carbs, and sodium of regular yogurt. Much of regular yogurts’ calcium content is removed in the straining process, but a six-ounce serving of the Greek variety still contains about 20% of your daily recommended intake. Full-fat Greek yogurt contains more saturated fat than regular yogurt. If you are trying to avoid saturated fats go for the fat-free Greek yogurt.
The only real downside I see to Greek yogurt is the cost. It’s typically twice the price of the regular stuff. I use Deals to Meals to find the best price on my yogurt. I usually price match it for about $1 but I’ve seen it go on sale for much less than that. Watch the ads and stock up when you see a good sale!
What to Look for When Buying Greek Yogurt
The FDA does not have guidelines or regulations to determine what yogurt is labeled “Greek.” Real Greek yogurt should be thickened by straining. Some manufacturers label their yogurt “Greek” but they really just use cornstarch or milk-protein to thicken regular yogurt. So make sure to read your labels! The only ingredients in real Greek yogurt should be milk and live active cultures.
I would also steer clear of the flavored varieties because they often come with lots of added sugar. Buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit, nuts, granola, honey, etc. to create much healthier flavored yogurt.
Ways to Use Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is great to cook with because it doesn’t curdle as easily when heated. That makes it a great substitute for less-healthy ingredients in a variety of recipes:
- The next time you reach for the sour cream, opt for Greek yogurt instead. Use it to dress your tacos and chili for the same tangy taste.
- Add it to your guacamole. It helps add a smooth, creamy texture plus a boost of protein and calcium.
- Swap it for the mayo in chicken, tuna, and egg salads to cut down on calories and saturated fat.
- Add chopped cucumbers, dill, and a pinch of sea salt to Greek yogurt for a quick and easy Tzatziki sauce.
- Combine with Dijon mustard, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for a healthy salad dressing.
- Mix Greek yogurt with lemon juice and capers to create a sublime sauce for salmon.
- Mix it with skim milk and use instead of buttermilk for pancakes.
- Marinate meat and seafood with seasoning and Greek yogurt instead of oil. You’ll cut fat, add flavor, and keep your dish moist and tender.
- Whip up moist mashed potatoes by swapping in nonfat yogurt for a portion of the butter in your favorite recipes.
- Heat shredded cheese and Greek yogurt over medium-low heat for a slimmed-down cheese sauce.
- Use it as a frosting for cake or cupcakes. Just add vanilla or almond extract and a bit of sweetener.
- Stir in vanilla extract, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips for a simple, delicious dessert.
- Make your own FroYo. Mix 6 ounces plain Greek Yogurt, 2 Tbls unsweetened baking cocoa, and Stevia to taste, until smooth. Pop in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.
- For every cup of butter you use in recipes for baked goods, use half and substitute the rest for a quarter cup of Greek yogurt. This handy conversion chart shows how much yogurt you can use to make your favorite recipes healthier.
At the bottom of this post you’ll find links to a bunch of mouth-watering Greek yogurt recipes, but I wanted to share one of my favorite untraditional ways to use it.
I love creamy tomato sauce on pasta but I have a finicky stomach that can’t handle rich sauces. I was thrilled when I found out you can add Greek yogurt to tomato sauce to create a delicious, creamy pasta dish.
Creamy Tomato Sauce with Greek Yogurt
(1) 16 oz jar roasted red bell peppers
(1) 15 oz jar pizza sauce
(2-3) 5.3 oz containers of Greek yogurt
Put bell peppers and pizza sauce in blender and blend until well mixed.
Heat sauce on stove over low heat.
Mix with your favorite pasta and toppings. I used about ¾ of a box of whole wheat rotini, 2 small sliced zucchini, and 3 Aidell’s chicken sausages.
Add the Greek yogurt, mix and turn off the heat.
Serve with some fresh mozzarella sprinkled on top and crusty French bread.
What are your favorite ways to use Greek yogurt?
Recipes with Greek Yogurt:
Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Creamy Lemon-Yogurt Sauce
100+ Greek Yogurt Recipes
Key Lime Greek Yogurt Pie
Strawberry Pineapple Greek Yogurt Cupcakes
Greek Yogurt Carrot Cake Pancakes
Greek Marinated Chicken
Pea Shoot, Pomegranate and Chevre Salad with Greek Yogurt Vinaigrette
Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Greek Yogurt Pops
Garlic Cheese Knots
Hot & Skinny Spinach Dip
Egg Salad Sandwich
Greek Yogurt Brownies
Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt Biscuits
CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE WITH GREEK YOGURT
- 1 16 oz jar roasted red bell peppers
- 1 15 oz jar pizza sauce
- 2-3 5.3 oz containers of Greek yogurt
- Put bell peppers and pizza sauce in blender and blend until well mixed.
- Heat sauce on stove over low heat.
- Mix with your favorite pasta and toppings. I used about ¾ of a box of whole wheat rotini, 2 small sliced zucchini, and 3 Aidell’s chicken sausages.
- Add the Greek yogurt, mix and turn off the heat.
- Serve with some fresh mozzarella sprinkled on top and crusty French bread.