Going Greek?

4 04 2014

If you haven’t been in the yogurt section of the dairy isle lately, you are missing out. Yogurt can be a great way to get high quality protein as well as calcium, and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. In 2008 Greek yogurt made up only 4% of US yogurt sales, but today makes up 44% and accounts for almost all of the product growth in the dairy isle.

Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw

What is it?

“Greek” yogurt is a thicker yogurt product, made by taking regular yogurt and straining it to remove most of the liquid whey.

Nutrition Facts:

Greek yogurt is more concentrated, so contains more protein and saturated fat, and less carbohydrate (some of the carbohydrate is strained out). Buying non fat Greek will eliminate the saturated fat issue, and still leave you with a thick, velvety yogurt that seems indulgent even without the fat. A 6oz serving of Greek has about 17 grams of protein compared to about 8 grams in conventional yogurt. Be aware that Greek also has less calcium per serving, as about half of the calcium is lost during straining. Regular non fat yogurt has about 300mg per serving, whereas Greek will have about 150mg. As with other yogurts, Greek is made from milk that has not been fortified with Vitamin D. You can look for brands that have added D to their products for a better source of this vitamin. Greek yogurt also contains probiotic bacteria indicated by “live” or “active” cultures on the label.

What to look for:

The term “Greek Yogurt” is not regulated by the FDA, so anyone can make a thicker yogurt and call it Greek. Many add pectin, cornstarch or gelatin to make their products thicker, rather than straining it traditionally. Not that these are a problem, but if you are looking for a traditional product, check the ingredient list. As with other yogurts, look for low or non fat varieties without added sugars. When checking sugar content, remember that makers do not have to separate added sugars from naturally occurring sugars in their product on the label. Check the ingredient list for sugars added to the product, and remember that “organic” sugars (like organic cane juice) and seemingly “natural” additions (like honey) are still added sugars. Try unsweetened non fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts- ingredients you can control yourself.

Ways to use Greek yogurt:

This yogurt is not just for snacking! Its thickness and tang make it a perfect substitute for sour cream in your favorite dips, or to top your baked potato. It is acidic and can be used in place of buttermilk, and can be used in marinades. It can even work well to boost the leavening in quick breads and muffins.

Source: Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter April 2014

So if you haven’t tried it, see what you think. I love Greek yogurt as the thick texture and the high protein content give me a satisfying snack that is a great bridge to my next meal, and it gives me a calcium boost at the same time. I also love the fact that I can use it in my recipes to give them great flavor and make them nutrient rich. Here are some ways you can go Greek today!

Tzatziki is a great traditional Greek topping/dip that can be used with just about any dish. Try it along with grilled flank steak, chicken or fish, or used as a dip with whole wheat pita or whole grain baked tortilla chips: http://www.chobani.com/culture/recipes/tzatziki/


Greek Yogurt Peanut Butter Fruit Dip 

(From Family Fresh Meals) 

6 servings

6 oz plain Greek yogurt (use non fat for less calories and fat per serving)

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy with fresh fruit.

Nutrition facts: 61 calories, 4g fat, 2g saturated fat, 5g Carbohydrate, 2g protein, 29mg sodium



Apple and Greek Yogurt Pancakes

(From Daniela @FoodRecipesHQ)

6 pancakes


4 apples

1 egg

3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 Tablespoon honey

2 Tablespoons oil to cook

Powdered sugar (optional)


Cook the apples in boiling water for about 5 minutes. The pot must be large to contain enough water to cover the apples. Cool down the apples, then peel, coarsely grate them. For a thicker consistency you can cut one apple in slices.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and honey together.

Combine the egg, the yogurt and stir in the apples.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Drop large spoonful of batter into the pan and flatten it out a little. Cook until golden golden underneath, flip the pancake and cook them for an additional two minutes.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

(Feel free to use non fat Greek yogurt if you like, and try whole wheat flour or a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour )


Nutrition Facts per pancake: 177 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 28g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 87mg sodium






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