My Favorite: Greek Yogurt!

Meet my favorite cooking staple: Greek Yogurt.

I like to think of Greek yogurt as "yogurt for grown-ups." Or at least, grown-ups who like to eat lovely things. Just try one spoonful, and I bet you'll be a convert for life. And don't get me started on Labne -- basically the yogurt version of cream cheese. It's to die for.

Let's Yo!
For cooking, the plain full-fat and 2% Greek yogurt versions work well. A bowl of it is a lovely way to start the day, but yogurt isn't just for breakfast -- it's also terrific for lunch, dinner...even dessert.

Here are a few ideas for making the most of your Greek yogurt experience:

  • Top plain, vanilla, or honey Greek yogurt with sliced bananas, berries, a drizzle of honey, pinch of cinnamon, and a tablespoon of chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans for a morning treat that will keep you satisfied until lunch.
  • Brighten your morning routine: stir in a handful of blueberries, raspberries and/or sliced peaches and few leaves of fresh mint (minced) into plain, vanilla, or honey low-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Grab and Go: Blend 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup of orange or pineapple juice, 2 teaspoons of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon and about 11/2 cups of nonfat plain (or vanilla) Greek yogurt for a healthy, tasty smoothie.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to top your famous chili, baked potatoes, tacos, enchiladas, goulash and more.
  • Stir a dollop of plain yogurt into stews, soups and sauces for a tart, creamy finish. You can substitute Greek yogurt for heavy cream or milk -- just stir it in at the end (off the heat) so it doesn't curdle.
  • Replace sour cream with plain low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt in your favorite dips. Labne is even better.
  • Ditch the mayo in your tuna, chicken, egg, potato and macaroni salad recipes. Try it with plain low-fat Greek yogurt instead. Just add an extra pinch of seasonings to balance it out.
  • Make your own salad dressings? Try plain Greek yogurt in your next batch of Caesar or Ranch.
  • Or try this: Top a salad of greens, pecans, sliced grapes, and cubed chicken breast with a mixture of a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a few tablespoons of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, a pinch of salt, black pepper and fresh tarragon.
  • Reduce the amount of butter in your favorite cookie recipes by cutting the amount of butter in half and replacing about a quarter of the original portion of the butter with plain full-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup butter, change that to 1/2 cup butter and then add 1/4 cup of yogurt. 
  • If you must use boxed cake or muffin mixes (sigh), omit the eggs and oil and use plain yogurt and water instead, 1 cup each.
  • Love the decadent cream cheese frosting on carrot cake and red velvet cupcakes? Make it with yogurt (or Labne!) instead of butter, using a 1:1 ratio of cream cheese to yogurt and you can have an extra slice. Whip up this quick version: 4 oz light cream cheese, 4 oz low-fat or full-fat plain Greek yogurt, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg.)
  • Mix 1-2 teaspoons of honey and 1 TBS of chopped crystallized ginger with 1 cup of low-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt and use in place of whipped cream on top of your favorite gingerbread or pound cake recipes.
  • Top shortcakes with a dollop of low-fat plain, strawberry, or vanilla Greek yogurt mixed with macerated strawberries. 
Don't get me wrong -- I love cooking with butter and eggs and mayo and heavy cream. It's just that sometimes, it's a good idea to shake things up. Because then you can shake it in your skinny jeans, too. (Wink.)