Monday, May 16, 2011

Ode to Plain Yogurt

Just like my new dog, I too am a mutt. I grew up eating plain yogurt, and have it for breakfast a few times a week. It is a great breakfast item for a number of reasons. One, it is delicious! But not only for its yummy factor, plain yogurt should be enjoyed for is benefits to your body. Those include: yogurt is easier to digest than milk, yogurt contributes to colon health, yogurt improves the bio availability of other nutrients, yogurt boosts your immunity, yogurt aids healing intestinal infections, yogurt decreases yeast infections, yogurt is a rich source of protein and calcium, yogurt can lower cholesterol, and yogurt improves your skin. Need I say more?

Not all yogurt is created equal, however. There are a list of things you should look out for, but eating plain (Greek or Mediterranean is the best) yogurt is a safe bet to acquiring the benefits above. For more information on yogurt and what kinds to not eat, check out Yogurt.

There are a number of ways to eat yogurt. My favorite is with a drizzle of honey. This gives you that tart, sweet factor that so many of us look for.

The pictured is me breakfast this morning: 3/4 a cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds (no salt) and 1 table spoon of honey. Easy enough to do right? For those of you looking to watch your weight/fat content/carbs, these kinds of plain yogurt meals are a GREAT solution to breakfast food. Plus, with nonfat Greek yogurt, you can eat a lot of it for little calories, keeping you full.
*Of course, the honey adds sugar. I felt like something sweet this morning, so this was a great way to beat my craving. You can of course eliminate the honey.*

Just as an example, here  is the nutrition information for the above meal:
                                                                           Calories     Carbs      Fat      Protein     Sugar      Fiber
Yogurt (Fage)                                                       65            5              0          11            5            0
Almonds                                                               90            3              8           4             1            2
Honey                                                                  64            17             0           0             17         0
                                                       TOTAL:      219           25            8           15            23         2

There are other variations on this meal. Try adding almonds and fresh fruit. Or swirl in some unsweetened apple sauce for a sweet bite in the yogurt along with the almonds. Play with dried fruits and different kinds of nuts. Plain yogurt is really a blank canvas.

Just another example of a how your yogurt can be jazzed up at breakfast: Fruit salad, pistachios, honey.

Other Ways to Use Plain Yogurt

Anytime you can use mayonnaise or sour cream in something, you can use plain yogurt. This includes tuna salad, balsamic dressing, potato salad, a side to potato latkes, on top of tacos, in chili, on sandwiches, as a dressing for salad, as a marinade... the possibilities are endless. It just takes you being a little creative. However, there are time where you can use plain yogurt where you aren't substituting "white with white" persay. One of my favorite ways to use it is in baking. If you have heard about the old applesauce trick instead of oil, this works similarly. It keeps whatever you are baking moist and delicious, while minimizing the unhealthy elements of the dish.

Blueberry muffins are one of my favorite guilty breakfast items. Next time you go to make them, try this recipe instead if you are looking for something more healthy:

1 cup flour (you can use whole wheat)
3/4 cups oat bran hot cereal, uncooked
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder 
8 oz. plain low fat Greek yogurt                *we use low fat milk and yogurt instead of nonfat because
2 egg whites, slightly beaten                                 that little bit of fat will keep the muffin moist*
1/4 cup skim milk 
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or butter
1 tsp. fresh grated lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line 12 medium muffin cups with paper baking cups. 
2. Combine flour, oat bran, brown sugar and baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg whites, skim milk, honey, oil and lemon peel. 
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in blueberries. 
5. Fill muffin cups almost full. Bake 18-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
And there you have it. Not as guilty Blueberry muffins using our secret ingredient, plain yogurt. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Erica said...

you know what else is really good? Greek yogurt on oatmeal with some brown sugar (or honey) and frozen raspberries. yummmmm!

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