When It Comes to Greek Yogurt, Thinking Outside the Bowl

greek yogurt

Cookbook author  Toby Amidor is a registered dietitian, a mother of three and a regular contributor to  Healthy Eats -- which might just be some kind of nutrition intelligence trifecta. She has long been a fan of Greek yogurt, not only for the flavor but also for the numerous dietary benefits it bestows. Her passion for the tangy ingredient inspired a compilation of over 130 delectable recipes, The Greek Yogurt Kitchen , out this week. Here, she talks about why Greek yogurt has a range that exceeds the usual parfaits and smoothies -- although those, of course, are always great too.

Greek yogurt has become a snacking staple, but as your cookbook shows, there turn out to be are so many other ways to use it.

When I tell people that I use Greek yogurt to lighten up brownies or Alfredo sauce, they are pretty surprised. But the versatility of this superstar ingredient goes far beyond that -- you really need to think outside the culinary box. Greek yogurt can be used to lighten up a hollandaise sauce for a lighter eggs Benedict, to replace most or all of the mayo in deviled eggs, or in lieu of buttermilk or mayo in dressings. Greek yogurt not only replaces higher fat ingredients, but it also boosts the nutrition in recipes. For example, I add Greek yogurt to my mango guacamole for a calcium and protein boost.

Is it true that Greek yogurt is a better option for those who are lactose intolerant?

Absolutely! Those with lactose intolerance can better tolerate dairy foods that are lower in lactose, a milk sugar. Greek yogurt is a lower lactose food.  Both the National Institutes of Health and the National Medical Association recommend that folks with lactose intolerance keep milk and dairy foods in their diet. Six ounces of nonfat plain Greek yogurt contain 4 grams of lactose, while 1 cup of milk contains 12 grams of lactose. Greek yogurt also contains live and active cultures, which help break down the lactose as well.

Not everyone is a huge fan of Greek yogurt's super-tangy flavor. Any tips for someone who still wants to take advantage of the health benefits?

There are many brands of Greek yogurt on the market, some more tangy than others. Taste-test brands to see which you prefer. Another suggestion is to flavor up your plain Greek yogurt with natural, nutritious add-ins. In my book I created 10 do-it-yourself snacks for 250 calories or less. For example, my peanut butter and jelly snack mixes 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 2 teaspoons jam with ¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

salmon croquettes

Photo by: Allan Penn

Allan Penn

Sesame-Ginger Salmon Croquettes with Sriracha Cream

Serves 6
For the croquettes:
1 scallion
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh salmon
¾ cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
For the Sriracha cream:
¾  cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil

Prepare the croquettes: Chop the scallion, both white and green parts. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, yogurt, chopped scallion, egg, egg white, mustard, ginger, salt and pepper. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the salmon; then dice the flesh into 1-inch cubes. Add the salmon to the yogurt mixture, along with the panko breadcrumbs. Toss gently to coat and combine. Transfer the fish mixture to a blender or food processor, and pulse 10 to 12 times, just until the fish is finely minced and the mixture is well combined.

Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the fish mixture, and using clean hands, form it into a patty. Place it on a large plate or a platter, gently pressing down with the palm of your hand to flatten it slightly. Repeat to make 12 small patties. Cover the platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the Sriracha cream:  Stir the yogurt, mayonnaise, and Sriracha together in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Cook the croquettes: In a large pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add 6 croquettes, leaving about 1 inch all around each. Saute until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the croquettes to a plate or platter. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining patties. Spoon 1 tablespoon Sriracha cream over each finished croquette, and serve warm.

SERVING SIZE: 2 croquettes and 2 tablespoons Sriracha cream

NUTRITION INFORMATION (PER SERVING): Calories: 333; Total Fat: 24 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Protein: 21 grams; Total Carbohydrates: 9 grams; Sugars: 2 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 76 milligrams; Sodium: 346 milligrams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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