The first time I ate Greek yogurt, it didn’t seem like a diet food at all. I had paired it with strawberries on a hot early summer afternoon, and I remember thinking that that combination wasn’t so bad. In its creaminess, I found the texture of ice cream again, and while the acidity of the fat-free version made me nauseous compared to the sugary yogurts I was used to eating, that quickly passed. Today, having eaten Greek yogurt almost every day for over three years, I know that there’s no reason to associate Greek yogurt with deprivation and sourness. Those that snub it are missing out on its multitude of health benefits—and enjoying it as a yummy snack to look forward to during the day.
What are the different types of Greek yogurt?
In the fermentation process of turning milk into yogurt, Greek yogurt faces one more fermentation step and one more filtration step than regular yogurt, which is why it is thicker and creamier. In fact, more milk is required to produce it, and it contains less water but more nutrients. In the original, less-filtered version, whole Greek yogurt is the highest in fat, containing about 9 grams per 100, for higher calorie intake but also a greater sense of satiety over time (due to the balanced fat-to-protein ratio) and a rounder taste, which is lost in the 5% or 2% skimmed versions along with the calories that go down. Greek yogurt 0%, on the other hand, which is the most popular, is clearly lighter in calories given the absence of fat but consequently tastes more like cream cheese than soft yogurt.
What are the benefits of Greek yogurt?
The beneficial effects of Greek yogurt are mainly associated with its high content of bioavailable, i.e., ready-to-eat protein for maintaining lean body mass, but also with a low (if not absent) sugar and lactose content, which is why it can also be consumed by those who are diabetic and allergic to dairy products. The probiotics, also known as lactic acid bacteria, within it contribute to the balance of intestinal flora, facilitate the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body, balance metabolism, and also reduce abdominal bloating. Greek yogurt has a high concentration of minerals, including calcium, but also water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin A (retinol), also the amino acid leucine, which increases the sense of satiety and decreases the need for continuous snacking, a feature that makes this yogurt suitable in diets to lose weight but also for those who have busy lives and want to feel full for a long time.
Why does Greek yogurt at breakfast decrease hunger pangs?
Greek yogurt eaten in the morning ensures protein intake right from the start of the day and keeps blood sugar levels at bay. The metabolism starts differently when you have breakfast with Greek yogurt as opposed to, say, a traditional Italian breakfast of cappuccino and pastry, which can make the body more sluggish. Greek yogurt is the key to a balanced breakfast because you get the creaminess of cappuccino or decadent pastry, but you cut out the sugars that cause the post-fasting nighttime glycemic spike. Personally, since I stopped dieting and kept trying new combinations by mixing cereals, fruits, and fats like natural nut butter, even adding a few cookies here and there, a little bit for gluttony, a little bit for decoration, I am no longer hungry an hour after breakfast. I finally understand what is meant when we talk about bioavailable foods that are easily digestible by the body right away.
What are the best Greek yogurt recipes, and why?
Many people snub Greek yogurt because of its supposed acidity. As seen above, this varies according to the amount of fat contained within the food: the less there is, the closer the taste is to that of cream cheese, but Greek yogurt was not born as acidic. Greek yogurt was born as a rich and extremely versatile food, which is why it must be experienced, tested, and tasted in all its versions before understanding how much it can be utilized in cooking without making dishes too acidic.
On the sweet side, one combination for fully appreciating Greek yogurt is drizzled with honey and a few nuts; it’s a true dessert without too much sugar and a welcoming taste. Combining jam, chocolate, and of course, fruit of all kinds, from seasonal to tropical fruits, such as mango and papaya, is a great idea for a winning sweet combination. Or prepare a mouthwatering smoothie with all the elements mentioned above.
On the other hand, for savory recipes, Greek yogurt is the perfect base for creating sauces with fresh or spicy spices, as illustrated by famous yogurt sauces from Middle Eastern countries created with yogurt (also Greek), salt, mint, lemon, and oil. There are also classic dips to be made by mixing Greek yogurt, chopped spinach, garlic, lemon, and saffron for a mouthwatering appetizer. Greek yogurt is also a great ingredient to add in baked preparations, such as omelets, to make them more creamy and protein-rich. It can also be used for sweet and savory doughs by substituting a part of butter and eggs to create a lighter version that doesn’t sacrifice fluffiness in the dough.
This article first appeared on www.vogue.it