Yearning for Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the most popular fermented dairy products in the world. Yogurt is made by adding cultures to milk which creates that familiar tangy, sour flavor. Because Greek yogurt is strained, it has a thicker consistency than traditional yogurt and about twice the amount of protein.  

Yogurt has been eaten for thousands of years and is frequently used as part of a meal or snack, as well as a component of sauces and desserts. Yogurt contains several nutrients that are vital to maintaining bone density, including calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Many types of yogurts contain live probiotic bacteria that are beneficial for digestive health. Yogurt is often well-tolerated by people with lactose intolerance since the bacteria in yogurt help with digesting lactose, although lactose-free yogurt is available. From traditional to Greek yogurts, low fat to full fat, plain or flavored, the nutritional content of yogurt varies greatly.

When choosing yogurt, consider the following: 

  • Decide between whole milk, low-fat, or nonfat yogurt. A full-fat yogurt will have more calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol than their lower fat counterparts. However, a full-fat yogurt may be more filling in the long run. Look for the right texture and tang for your taste buds. 
  • Consider the sweetener. Many “light” yogurts may contain artificial sweeteners, while other yogurts may receive a significant percentage of their calories from sugar. Remember, 4 grams of added sugar is the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar.  
  • Check the label for Live and Active Cultures. FDA standards require yogurt to include L bulgaricus and S thermophilus, but many yogurt products contain additional strains as well. Most yogurt brands will have a graphic that says “live and active cultures.” Some yogurts may be heat treated, a process that kills the live cultures.  
  • Look for Vitamin D. When enjoying calcium-rich yogurt, choose one that also boosts your intake of vitamin D. Some brands list 0% of the Daily Value for vitamin D; others have 20%. 

Yogurt, cool and refreshing, is perfect for many desserts.  

  • Vanilla yogurt substitutes for ice cream in this healthy twist on a Banana Split recipe. Fresh blueberries, strawberries, and banana make a tasty red, white, and blue treat. 
  • This low-fat breakfast Raspberry Yogurt Parfait is a great way to get protein into your breakfast. 
  • Watermelon Ice Pops are a healthy way to celebrate summer. They are not only easy to make, but they are also fun to eat.

With so many varieties of yogurt to choose from, it can be overwhelming. You can never go wrong with plain nonfat yogurt.  

For a thirst-quenching treat on a hot day, jazz up 6 oz. of plain yogurt with:   

  • 1/4 cup of chopped strawberries and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract to make Strawberries and Cream Yogurt. 
  • 1/8 cup crushed pineapple and a tablespoon of flaked or shredded coconut to make Pina Colada Yogurt. 
  • Add 1 tablespoon of cool espresso or extra-strong coffee and 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup to make Mochaccino Yogurt. 
  • Add 1/4 cup chopped orange segments or mandarin oranges and 1 tablespoon reduced-sugar orange marmalade to make Orange Burst Yogurt. 

While the variety of yogurts seems endless, never underestimate the power of plain yogurt. It is free of added sugars and sweeteners, making it a perfect all-purpose ingredient. Plain yogurt is used in this marinade for Lamb Kebabs; in place of mayo in this Curry Chicken Salad Wrap or in the dressing for this Broccoli Slaw. Using plain yogurt in recipes can unleash your culinary creativity and improve your health. 

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