Why and How to Incorporate Greek Yogurt into Your Diet
You wouldn’t expect it, but Greek yogurt has become one of the biggest trends in health food. Between 2008-2012, the industry quadrupled, and in 2018, the Greek yogurt industry brought in $5.6 billion in revenue. It’s expected to nearly triple again in another four years. So what’s all of the hype, and why are people buying Greek yogurt?
Greek yogurt is made similarly to regular yogurt. While regular yogurt is still an incredibly healthy choice, Greek yogurt is typically a step up in quality and nutrition from your standard creamy treat. The secret is that there’s an extra step to the process where water, lactose, and minerals are carefully siphoned out. The result is a delectable, velvety milk product containing less sugar, more fat, and a naturally tart taste that’s often well-complemented by lemon.
Plain Greek yogurt is nutrient-dense and can be added to a variety of different recipes! Today we’re going to look at the benefits of Greek yogurt and a variety of different ideas of how you can incorporate it into your daily weight loss regimen.
Nutritional Benefits of Greek Yogurt
Protein is everywhere in our bodies; Our hair, nails, skin, and bones all start with a small amount of protein. Every day, protein aids your body in several vital functions. It helps your body transport molecules like oxygen between cells. Protein helps repair damaged cells and make new ones, protects the body from viruses, and promotes healthy growth in children and teenagers.
When you don’t eat enough protein, it’s referred to as a “protein deficiency.” Because protein is abundant in so many foods, such a deficiency is usually only observed in poverty-stricken communities. Symptoms of protein deficiency might include delayed growth in children, loss of muscle, and thinning or patchy hair.
Out of all of the macronutrients, protein is the only one that can’t be stored in the body, so it’s essential to get it through dietary sources every day. Working enough protein into your diet can be incredibly easy with Greek yogurt, especially if meat’s off of your protein menu. Add two tablespoons of either chia seeds or hemp hearts to your Greek yogurt for a fiber boost.
Greek yogurt is incredibly rich in probiotics – the healthy bacteria found in your gut. In recent years, the demand for probiotic foods has gone up as scientists continue to study and publish new information on the microscopic life in our gut.
Currently, probiotics are known to relieve digestive problems, including constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. It also improves your overall digestion and regulates weight. But the benefits of probiotics don’t stop with digestion. Probiotics make you feel happier, support brain health, protect your heart, and boost your immune system.
Not every Greek yogurt contains probiotics, so be sure to check the label. Sometimes a finished yogurt doesn’t contain any of the live bacteria anymore, and L.Acidophilus and L.casei are added to ensure a healthier gut.
Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, is an essential nutrient that serves an almost endless number of roles in your body. Primarily, it supports your nervous system, red blood cell formation, and the synthesis of DNA.
Eating vitamin B12 rich foods comes with quite a long list of benefits. It helps form blood cells, prevents congenital disabilities, improves bone health, keeps your eyes healthy, regulates your mood, and protects your brain.
According to experts, approximately one serving of Greek yogurt contains 21.3 percent of your entire daily intake of vitamin B12. Regular incorporation of Greek yogurt into your diet is a surefire way to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.
Something you may have sacrificed in a weight loss diet is a handful of high sodium foods. Cutting out high amounts of sodium is necessary, but did you know that potassium helps your body regulate its sodium levels?
Potassium is another essential nutrient in your body that helps lower blood pressure and balance out your body’s sodium levels. One serving of Greek yogurt contains up to 6.8 percent of your daily potassium intake. So if you have high sodium levels, Greek yogurt is an excellent solution to help tame your sodium intake issues.
Greek yogurt is full of one nutrient that is absolutely essential to healthy weight loss and your overall health – every serving of Greek yogurt is rich in calcium.
Did you know that calcium plays a role in weight loss? In a recent study, researchers found that calcium lowers the total level of the stress hormone, cortisol, by blocking its production. Higher levels of cortisol cause your body to store fat, ultimately preventing you from losing the weight that you need to.
Because of its calcium content, incorporating a bit of extra Greek yogurt into your diet might be a great idea to slim your waistline.
Your mental health should always be of the utmost importance. Greek yogurt happens to be a natural way to help alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety. As already mentioned, Greek yogurt is absolutely rich in probiotics.
Scientists believe that the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects of Greek yogurt come from the boost of healthy bacteria in the gut. Supposedly, having healthy microflora might be able to increase the amount of serotonin your body produces naturally. A study in 2016 found that its participants who ate Greek yogurt or took a probiotic every day were happier and less anxious.
Tailoring a diet to your diabetes can be quite a challenge. Type 2 diabetes happens when your body becomes resistant to insulin or when your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone made by your body that utilizes and helps break down sugar. Without it, blood sugar becomes unregulated.
An incredibly interesting study found that people who consume at least a hundred grams of Greek yogurt per day were found to have lower naturally regulated blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
Currently, it’s believed that the probiotics might have a direct impact on these facts, but it can’t be said with total certainty.
If you want to take advantage of these effects, you should aim to buy Greek yogurt with a wide variety of probiotics.
Incorporating Greek Yogurt into Your Diet
It’s time to kick-start your diet with the all too popular super-food, Greek yogurt. Next up, we’re going to take a look at a handful of easy hacks and recipes to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet.
In a few easy steps and less than five minutes, you can make a low-calorie, protein-dense Greek yogurt chip dip. If you’re on your way to a potluck and you’re fresh out of ideas, making this quick dip might be the answer to your problem.
In a bowl, mix together non-fat Greek yogurt, dried onion flakes, and Worcestershire sauce, then add salt and pepper to taste. This should turn out tasting like your favorite store-bought French onion dip. If the consistency isn’t quite where it needs to be, consider eating a few extra calories and add some mayonnaise.
Sour Cream Substitute
When you’ve run out of sour cream and your baked potatoes or taco dinner are already cooked, you can always use Greek yogurt in a pinch. Plain Greek yogurt is a close cousin to sour cream with a thicker texture and a tangier taste.
Try incorporating sour cream into any dip, dressing, or topping that you would usually use sour cream for a healthy alternative.
Trying to lose weight doesn’t necessarily mean giving up dessert. In this classic yogurt hack, you can use either flavored Greek yogurt or flavored gelatin to reach a delicious taste without the calories. If you use unflavored of both, you can always add your favorite fruit juice to the recipe.
Add one cup of juice to a saucepan and bring it to a simmering temperature. Next, add 2 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin (1 packet of Knox Gelatin). Whisk in the gelatin until it’s fully dissolved.
Pour the juice mixture into two cups of plain Greek yogurt. Now that they’re combined, finish it off by pouring your batter into lightly oiled muffin tins. Chill for four hours or until they’ve set.
Skip the Mayo
Are you a mayo lover? Instead of using mayonnaise on a sandwich, consider replacing it with plain Greek yogurt. You’ll end up having less fat and more flavor through this simple hack.
Nutritious Smoothie Boost
Any healthy diet combined with exercise is going to create a demand for more protein. Commonly people enjoy using powdered protein alternatives, but you can load up your smoothie with Greek yogurt to get that added protein punch with more flavor.
Mashed potatoes will never be the same with this hack. Instead of using heavy cream, substitute it with Greek yogurt. The result is the creamiest possible mashed potato.
You’ve probably visited a frozen yogurt establishment at some point over the years, but the price tag attached to the frozen yogurt can way too high. Luckily, you can make a variety of different frozen treats using Greek yogurt. It’s inexpensive, low-calorie, and delicious.
The simplest treat to make a frozen treat takes two ingredients: strawberries and Greek yogurt. You can use any fruit and any flavor of Greek yogurt.
Take your pack of strawberries and coat them one at a time in Greek yogurt. Lay each coated berry down on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until they’re frozen. When you sink your teeth into your yogurt covered berries, you’ll instantly be brought back to the flavor you might’ve experienced at a shop.hAn Easy Pancake Topping
Pancakes wouldn’t be the same without using a sweet topping. If you can’t part with maple syrup, you can try thinning it out with a bit of Greek yogurt. Maybe try a simple icing with Greek yogurt and a light amount of sugar. Regardless of how you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, Greek yogurt gives you a lot of options.
For something a little bit more original, you can make a honey-yogurt pancake sauce. In one easy step, you can have a sweet topping without packing in the calories. Just combine two cups of low-fat Greek yogurt with half a cup of honey.
When the cold autumn and winter seasons roll around, instead of using heavy cream in your soups, Greek yogurt can take its place. Let’s take a look at an easy soup recipe:
Greek Yogurt Soup Ingredients
- One tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- One tablespoon butter
- Six cups bone broth or chicken stock
- Six cut russet potatoes
- Two thinly sliced leeks
- One shallot
- Two stalks of chopped celery
- One bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
- 1/4 cup of white wine
- Salt and pepper
- One pinch of saffron
- One pinch of cayenne
- One cup fat-free Greek yogurt
In a large stockpot, add your olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. After the butter has melted down and has passed its foaming phase, add your leek, shallots, and celery. Sauté the vegetables until they’ve softened
Increase the heat to high and add white wine. Cook until it’s evaporated. After the wine’s evaporated, add the chicken stock, potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme.
When the potatoes are soft, add the Greek yogurt, then pour the entire mixture into a blender.
Easy Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is incredibly expensive and often comes in small quantities. Did you know you can just turn your plain Greek yogurt into cream cheese? In three easy steps, you can make a large batch of cream cheese from plain Greek yogurt using a strainer, cheesecloth, and a large bowl.
In a large bowl or dish, set a strainer across its top and add two layers of cheesecloth. The cheesecloth should cover the holes in the strainer and make a fine mesh between the two layers. There should also be enough cloth for it to drape over either side of your bowl.
Open your container of Greek yogurt and pour off any excess liquid that’s formed on the top. Next, empty the entirety of your Greek yogurt container onto your cheesecloth. Fold the corners of the cheesecloth over the yogurt to cover it up.
Find any heavy household object, maybe a small bowl or jar, place it on top of the cheesecloth, and set your cream cheese in progress in the refrigerator. In two to three days, drain any liquid that’s formed in the bowl below until you’ve reached a desirable consistency. When it’s finally finished, you can store it in an airtight container for up to a week. You could even mix it up with some herbs and spices for a simple cream-cheese dip.
More Greek Yogurt Dessert
You can never have too much of a healthy dessert; can you? Next up is a simple sugar-free chocolate pudding using plain Greek yogurt.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 3/4 cup of milk, and your sweetener of choice.
Whip a teaspoon of vanilla extract into 1 1/2 cups of plain Greek yogurt, then combine it with the chocolate mixture. Cover it up and chill for a minimum of two hours.
It’s thought that, when Greek yogurt was invented, Greece supposedly overproduced it to the point they had to get creative with it. The name Tzatziki comes from the Persian word zhazh, which means herb mixture. There are a ton of recipes quite similar to Tzatziki across the middle east. Let’s take a look at an authentic Greek Tzatziki recipe:
Greek Tzatziki Ingredients
- 1/2 of a large Cucumber
- 1 1/2 cups of plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
- Two cloves of Garlic
- One tablespoon of white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- One tablespoon of minced fresh dill
- Take the cumber and shred it by using a grate, and then let it drain off by using a fine-mesh steel sieve. Keep it chilled while it drains overnight.
- In a bowl, mix the yogurt along with some garlic, standard vinegar, some oil, and a pinch of salt. Chill it overnight while your cucumber drains.
- In the morning, mix the drained, grated cucumber into the yogurt. You now have a delicious, authentic Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce. Serve with pita.
Mac and Cheese
An easy and delicious spin on a classic is a mac and cheese prepared with a Greek yogurt sauce. The recipe below will make an incredibly thick and creamy macaroni sauce without using a conventional recipe. If you plan on using this recipe for weight loss, substitute your noodles for something all-grain or less dense in calories.
Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese Ingredients
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- One to two cups of shredded cheese to taste
- 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup of skim milk
- Seasonings of your choice
- Begin by whisking together your skim milk and Greek yogurt. After they’re blended, add your cheese and mix until melted.
- Adding small amounts at a time, slowly add 1/4 cup of flour. Be careful not to dump it in all at once, as it will end up clumping in your sauce. You should only add flour until the sauce is thickened.
- Add salt and the seasonings of your choice. Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg are all recommended. Carefully add small amounts to taste.
Greek Yogurt and a Healthy Diet
Greek yogurt is an incredibly versatile super-food that can be incorporated into almost any dish. When you’re dieting to lose weight, running into a shortage of healthy recipes is terribly common. Hopefully, this post inspires you to come up with some great new ideas for your healthy lifestyle.
If you’ve decided to add Greek yogurt to your daily diet, you should be able to cut calories without losing the nutritional value of most meals.