Even as New Year resolutions fade, incorporating healthier choices into meals has become part of the daily routine. Various cookbooks, health advocates and chefs have been touting the benefits of Greek yogurt. While a bowl of your favorite Greek yogurt with fruit is a delicious breakfast option, Greek yogurt can be used in many applications.
Greek cooking enthusiast and author of IKARIA: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die, Diane Kochilas has developed a list of her top 10 favorite uses of Greek yogurt. Regardless of the variety used, Greek yogurt has the versatility beyond the simple breakfast food.
1) Instead of mayonnaise. Greek yogurt can easily swap out higher-fat mayonnaise as a sandwich spread. Diane likes to mix it into canned tuna to make a lighter salad (with carrots, celery, scallions, a touch of turmeric, capers, dill). She also whisks Greek yogurt with egg yolks and spices to make a lighter version of deviled eggs. For a healthy, creamy salad dressing that’s perfect for coleslaw, try whisking Greek yogurt with a little extra virgin olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice.
2) In place of heavy cream. Use Greek yogurt to thicken and flavor pureed carrot, celery root, spinach, pumpkin and other types of vegetable-based soups. In the past, Diane always garnished her soups with a dollop of heavy cream or butter, but now uses Greek yogurt and olive oil exclusively.
3) Greek yogurt for dinner. Having a light meal consisting of a cup of yogurt, typically full fat, with some bread was how Greeks a generation ago dined for dinner. Today, in many parts of Greece, particularly on the islands, lunch – rather than dinner – remains as the main meal of the day.
4) Lighten up desserts. Replace at least half the amount of cream cheese in cheesecake recipes with Greek yogurt, or swap out any sour cream called for in recipes with Greek yogurt. You won’t miss the calories.
5) Toppings with a Greek twist. Instead of sour cream, top baked potatoes with Greek yogurt. Forget the butter too – drizzle your tots with extra virgin Greek olive oil, sea salt, and Greek dried oregano.
6) Rethink pasta sauce. One of Diane’s favorite recipes from her IKARIA cookbook is a super-quick and flavorful pasta dish with a simple sauce of yogurt, garlic, fresh herbs and lemon zest. You can use this tasty sauce in other ways, too – over roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, grilled vegetables, and more.
7) Better-for-you béchamel. Less heavy and just as delicious, replace the butter and flour in traditional béchamel sauces by whisking Greek yogurt – preferably full-fat or 2 percent – with eggs or egg yolks for all types of baked casseroles, such as two favorites from Greece – moussaka and pastitsio.
8) Dip like a Greek. Creamy and thick Greek yogurt is a natural substitute for sour cream in an endless range of dips and spreads. Greek yogurt can even replace some of the high-fat avocado in guacamole for a tangy and less caloric version.
9) Break eggs, not plates! Try whisking Greek yogurt into eggs to reduce the amount of cheese used in a cheese omelet. End result – a fluffier, richer omelet with fewer calories.
10) Greek-style weekend brunch. Spread Greek yogurt on toast or a bagel next time you hanker for cream cheese and lox.