Katie's Healthy Bites: Loving Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt's texture tastes like a decadent dessert, but no need to stress, this dairy favorite is actually healthy for you.

When it comes to healthy foods, yogurt makes most folks' favorite lists. It's a great source of calcium, good for a healthy snack or a star ingredient in many dishes all around the world. I was disappointed to see my market was stocking its cold case with yogurts filled with artificial sweeteners or sugar. Then, in the sea of fake ingredients and sugar overload, Greek yogurt appeared!

Before I even get into the nutrition benefits, can we talk about how creamy and thick it is? The texture tastes like a decadent dessert -- it makes it hard not to feel guilty of overindulging when you eat it. But no need to stress, this dairy favorite is actually good for you.

Greek yogurts have double the protein of traditional American yogurts and less sugar. The extra protein also makes them very filling. But don’t be fooled -- all Greek yogurts are not created equal. The full-fat varieties can be loaded with calories, so look for a low-fat or fat-free versions (brands I like: Oikos, Trader Joe's and Fage).

Better yet, lighten up on your calories and your wallet by making your own. To do this, start with some organic, plain, low-fat yogurt and a cheese cloth (or two). Put the yogurt in the cheese cloth and start squeezing to get the extra water and moisture out -- this will give you the thick, creamy texture of Greek yogurt. Once strained of the water, the remaining yogurt is ready to eat. It's just that simple!

I enjoy Greek yogurt for breakfast along with a cup of organic berries, a teaspoon of agave nectar and a tablespoon of sliced organic almonds. It’s the perfect start to any morning.

Yogurt is also good for adding texture to smoothies. Below are two of my tried-and-true recipes.

Berry B Smoothie
2 servings
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup organic orange juice with pulp
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)
1 firm ripe banana, peeled and sliced
1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

Place all ingredients in blender, blend and serve.

Nutrition Info: Calories: 220, Total Fat: 4 grams, Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams, Total Carbohydrate: 42 grams, Protein: 6 grams, Cholesterol: 16 milligrams, Sodium: 60 milligrams, Fiber 3.5 grams

* analyzed with full-fat yogurt
Peachy Keen
2 servings
2 cups frozen, organic sliced peaches
1/4 cup low-fat milk or soy milk
1 cup blackberries
3/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)

Place all ingredients in blender, blend and serve.

Nutrition Info: Calories: 191, Total Fat: 3.5 grams, Saturated Fat: 2 grams, Total Carbohydrate: 35 grams, Protein: 6 grams, Cholesterol: 14 milligrams, Sodium: 60 milligrams, Fiber: 4.5 grams

* analyzed with full-fat yogurt

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, owns HealthyBites, LLC and is a finalist on The Next Food Network Star, which airs Sundays on Food Network.

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