Diet and Nutrition

Surprising Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

Surprising Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained to remove most of its whey. This is what provides its classically thick consistency and sharp, tart taste. This unique quality makes Greek yogurt perfect for both sweet and savory applications. There isn't really anything "Greek" about it, so if you see strained yogurt sold as "Greek-style" yogurt, it's the same exact type of product.  Strained yogurt appears in many different cuisines, including Central and South Asian.

Using Greek yogurt to replace heavy cream in soups and sauces cuts calories and increases thickness and protein. Use it as a replacement for dishes that call for sour cream for a lower-calorie version of the recipe. 

Greek yogurt nutrition facts

If you eat yogurt to reap the benefits of probiotics and protein, ditch the sugar. And go full-fat. No, full-fat won't make you gain weight, but full-fat yogurts are much more filling and typically include far fewer sugars and other additives. If you're eating Greek yogurt as a meal, the best option is to eat one cup of full-fat yogurt topped with nuts and honey, or fruit.

One 8oz serving of Chobani plain full-fat yogurt contains:

  • 190 calories (80 from fat)
  • 20g protein (the average recommended amount of protein to be consumed per day is between 40 and 60 grams depending on weight and activity level, so 20g averages at 40% of your daily recommended value)
  • 6g sugar (many flavored yogurts can pack as many as 20g of sugar--almost as much as a can of soda)
  • 9g total fat
  • 6g saturated fat (30% daily recommended value)
  • 45mg cholesterol
  • 31mg potassium (8% daily recommended value)
  • 85mg sodium (4% daily recommended value)
  • 0g dietary fiber
  • 25% daily recommended calcium intake
  • 4% daily recommended vitamin A intake

One 8oz serving of Chobani plain fat-free yogurt contains 15 grams of protein, less than the full-fat version. So, full-fat will keep you fuller longer. And if you're cooking with it, it will provide a creamier texture that can stand up to many different flavors.

Cooking with Greek yogurt

Here are several simple recipes that celebrate Greek yogurt. We'll start with a simple yogurt sauce.

Simple Greek yogurt sauce

You can modify this sauce in a million different ways! Try it on turkey burgers, as a vegetable sauce, or even as a salad dressing.

You'll need:

  • 1 Cup - full-fat Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 T finely chopped dill
  • 1 T  finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 T good quality olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T water
  • 1 grated garlic clove

To make the sauce:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, dill, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, and water. 
  2. Grate the garlic clove, then add to the bowl.
  3. Taste, then add salt, pepper, or more lemon as needed.

Greek yogurt sauce variations

  1. Cucumber Tzatziki-style sauce: You've seen this sauce atop gyros and alongside Greek chicken and fish dishes. Did you know it's easy to make at home? Simply follow the recipe above, but also add 1/2-3/4 C finely diced cucumber and 1 T finely chopped cilantro. If it's too thick, add some water, If it's too thin, add some yogurt.
  2. Raita: This common sauce is served with many Indian dishes. Here, it is used more like a condiment than a sauce. To make raita, you'll need 1 C full-fat Greek yogurt, 1/4 C chopped red onion, 1/8 C chopped cilantro, 1 T fresh lime juice, 1/8 t each ground coriander and cumin, and salt to taste. If you'd like, you can add a dash of ground cinnamon. Serve this with curries or as a dip for breads.

Using a Greek yogurt sauce really makes it the star of the show. Here are additional ways to rely on the creaminess and of Greek yogurt to support the main flavors of the rest of the dish.

Greek yogurt guacamole

Greek yogurt is not used as a substitute for anything in this guacamole recipe. Instead, it provides a burst of flavor, protein, and probiotics. With the avocado, onion, and tomato, pair this with some carrot sticks and you have yourself a filling and nutritious lunch.

Watch this video to learn how to make Greek yogurt guacamole. Find the recipe below.

You'll need:

  • 2 ripe avocados (a perfectly ripe avocado will be soft but not mushy, and will be darker green in color)
  • 1-2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 C finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 C chopped tomatoes (don't chop these too small. You could also use quartered cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/3 C full-fat Greek yogurt, adding more if desired
  • 1 T finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt, to taste

To make the guacamole:

  1. Halve the avocados: With a chef's knife and a steady hand, cut each avocado lengthwise around the seed. Then, separate the halves. Either scoop the seed out with a spoon or jab and twist it with your knife. It should come out cleanly. Scoop the flesh from the avocados into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add lime juice, onion, tomatoes, yogurt, and cilantro. Mix thoroughly.
  3. If you added extra yogurt, you may need to add water. Do so by tablespoon increments.
  4. If the guacamole is too thin, add some more yogurt.
  5. Once you've reached the desired consistency, add salt to taste. 

Serve this guacamole as a dip, on a sandwich with roasted red peppers and raw veggies, or serve a healthy dollop on a slice of toast with red pepper flakes. The uses of guacamole really are endless!

For a super-protein-packed lunch, prepare a turkey burger with the above greek yogurt guacamole, then top with feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with a spinach salad.

Curry and yogurt chicken

This dish is not spicy, but has a warm spice profile that welcomes a tart, yogurty flavor without being overwhelmed by it. Serve this with a cooked vegetable and naan bread.

You'll need:

  • Cooking oil such as vegetable or canola
  • 1 1/2-2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 T fresh ginger, minced finely
  • 1 garlic clove, minced finely
  • 1 chile pepper such as jalapeno or serrano, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1/3 C full-fat Greek yogurt

To make curry and yogurt chicken:

  1. Heat 1/3 C oil over medium-high in a large, 2-3" deep skillet, plenty big enough for the chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in skillet, cooking until outside is browned and flipping once, around 5 minutes. Remove chicken and place to the side.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, and chile to the skillet. Cook until very fragrant and slightly soft, 2-3 minutes. Add curry powder and cook until fragrant, just shy of 1 minute. Add yogurt, tomatoes, and 1/3 C water. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Put chicken back in the pan. Include the juices. Bring this to a boil. Simmer, covered, on low until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and broth has thickened slightly, about 15-20 minutes. 

Serve the above dish with rice, naan, and/or a salad.