Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trendy Bytes: Greek Yogurt

 Photo courtesy of Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

So I finally succumbed to one of the latest trends in nutrition...Greek Yogurt.  I'd heard clients, students, and others rave about it; however, I really dragged my feet when it came to trying it out myself.  While I'm much less of a food neophobic than I used to be, I guess I held off because I am admittedly pretty picky when it comes to my yogurt.  I opted to begin with a familiar brand (must be that food neophobia kicking in), and I must say that I wasn't impressed.  I could not figure out why anyone would go for it, but after a little field research, I realized I had started with the wrong brand!  That made a world of difference.  After experimenting with several different brands, kinds, and flavors of Greek-style yogurt, I have finally settled on one favorite in particular -- Fage 2%.  Now, Greek-style yogurt has won me over.  

How does it measure up nutritionally?  Although Greek yogurt can have a seriously luxurious texture and taste, keep in mind that it is basically a type of strained yogurt.  The whey portion is removed leaving behind a thicker, less watery version of yogurt.  So it's not really as mysterious as many people seem to believe.  Because it's strained, it typically contains about twice the amount of protein of regular yogurt, so if you're looking to give your meal or snack a protein boost, this could possibly help with that depending on your personal nutrition needs.  But remember that most Americans are already consuming plenty of protein. You'll also get plenty of calcium and probiotics, too.  Most brands of plain Greek yogurt also tend to be slightly lower in sodium and naturally occurring sugar than regular plain yogurt.  Two things you might miss with Greek yogurt are Vitamins A and D.  Most regular yogurts are fortified with them, and I've found that some versions of Greek yogurt are not.  The good news is that there are other ways to get enough of these nutrientsIf you're watching your calorie or fat intake, you may want to opt for the 2% or 0% versions of Greek yogurt as the whole milk versions tend to be a lot heavier in calories and fat, especially saturated fat.  Otherwise the calorie and fat profiles of low-fat Greek yogurt and low-fat regular yogurt are fairly similar.  Finally, be aware that some of the flavored versions of Greek yogurt will contain added sugar, so I recommend going with the plain kind and combining it with your own mix-ins, such as whole, fresh fruit or nuts so that you're in the driver's seat with the added ingredients. 

How to enjoy it? Use it as you would other yogurt for a snack by adding in fruit, granola, or nuts for flavor and texture.  Mix it with cereal and fruit for breakfast instead of using milk. With the plain kind, you may want to add a little sweetness with honey or fruit preserves.  In the photo above, I added about 1 tsp of fruit preserves and fresh fruit. You can also use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream or mayo in dips or on sandwiches.  Or enjoy it in a smoothie!

If you haven't tried it, give it a shot and let me know what you think.  If you have tried it, what do you think?

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