After writing an entire cookbook on Greek yogurt, my nine-year-old daughter is now obsessed with the high protein dairy delight. She was my avid taste tester for many of the recipes and now I seem to be preparing her favorites on demand! But if you think Greek yogurt is just a snack, think again. There are many other ways to enjoy it.
The Nutritional Benefits
Greek yogurt is less watery than traditional yogurt because it is strained to remove the whey. This results in a yogurt that has a thick, creamy consistency and rich flavor. Greek yogurt also has about 40% less sugar, 38% less sodium, twice the amount of protein, and less lactose than traditional yogurt. It also contains live and active cultures, many of which act as probiotics.
Incorporating Greek yogurt into your child's healthy eating plan can help them meet the USDA's recommendations to have 3 daily servings of dairy each day.
Oh, the Versatility
There are so many kid-friendly ways to enjoy Greek yogurt that go beyond the yogurt cup.
Kids love smoothies, but oftentimes they don't know how healthy the ingredients in their smoothie really are! Greek yogurt not only adds a ton of good-for-you nutrients, it also adds frothiness and a thicker texture kid's adore.
Mama's Berry Smoothie
Prep time: 5 minutes
1 ½ medium bananas, peeled and frozen
½ cup frozen raspberries
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh whole strawberries
½ cup nonfat milk
¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
Place ingredients in blender; blend until smooth.
Serving size: 6-fluid ounces
Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 116; Total Fat: 0 grams; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Protein: 3 grams; Carbohydrates: 27 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 23 milligrams
A 2013 study published in the
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that kids were more likely to eat their vegetables when they dipped them first. The study looked at pre-school aged children who told researchers that they enjoyed eating their veggies when paired with a favorite flavored dip compared to eating a veggie without a dip or with a plain dip. The results found that 31-percent of kids liked a veggie alone compared with 64% who liked a veggie when it was served with their favorite dip.
Researchers from the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University conducted a second experiment where they found that kids ate significantly more of a veggie they disliked or previously rejected when it was offered with a favorite reduced-fat herb dip compared to when it was offered without any dip.
Greek yogurt makes a delicious base for many dips, including my
Prep time: 20 minutes
2 Haas avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1 serrano chile
1 clove garlic
½ medium red onion
½ medium red bell pepper, seeded
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 mango, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
Slice the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh and place it in a medium bowl. Add the lime juice.
Halve the serrano chile lengthwise. Discard the seeds and cut the chile into 1/8-inch dice. Mince the garlic. Peel and finely dice the red onion. Slice the bell pepper in half, discard the seeds, and cut into ¼-inch dice. Add the chile, garlic, red onion, red bell pepper, cilantro, yogurt, salt, and black pepper to the avocado in the bowl, and stir to combine. Using a sharp knife, cut the avocado into a small dice. Gently stir the mango, and serve.
Serving size: ½ cup
Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 116; Total Fat: 8 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 3 grams; Total Carbohydrates: 12 grams; Sugars: 6 grams; Fiber: 4 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 154 milligrams
Better-for-you cookies, brownies, and muffins? Yes, it's possible! Greek yogurt is a healthy substitute for butter found in most baking recipes. For each stick of butter a recipe calls for, use two tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt and ½ stick of butter instead.
Trail Mix Cookies*
Makes 40 cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup seedless golden raisins
1/3 cup unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and set it aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and yogurt. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and stir until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until each one is incorporated, and then add the vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture is light brown and thoroughly combined.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, folding gently until combined. Using one ingredient at a time, fold in the oats, raisins, and sunflower seeds.
Scoop up 1 heaping tablespoon of the dough and drop it onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake until the cookies are golden brown and slightly firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serving size: 1 cookie
Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 97; Total Fat: 3 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 2 grams; Total Carbohydrates: 16 grams; Sugars: 10 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; Cholesterol: 15 milligrams; Sodium: 45 milligrams
*Recipes from "The Greek Yogurt Kitchen" by Toby Amidor. Copyright © 2014 by Toby Amidor. Used with permission by Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
What is your favorite way to infuse Greek yogurt into meals?
Image of strawberry banana smoothie via shutterstock.