Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What's The Deal With Greek Yogurt?

(This article is part of Cooking Up a Sale's April series, Spring Clean Your Eating Habits.  If you'd like to read more on this topic, you can click over to the Monthly Themes page to find the rest of the articles in this series.)

We eat a lot of yogurt around here.  More recently, we've been eating more Greek yogurt.  (Chobani, Oikos, and store brand...we're not picky!)  We don't eat the Greek stuff exclusively, but we have included more of it in our diet.  Depending on your definition of "healthy", it's considered better for you than regular yogurt.  (Check out this article for more information on how it stacks up against the regular stuff.)  Basically, it's thicker, and has more protein than regular yogurt, which helps keep you full and satisfied longer.  

Not all Greek yogurt is created equal, so make sure to read the labels.  You can find many flavors and fat "levels" of Greek yogurt, so which one you'll purchase all depends on your dietary preferences and tastebuds.  Here's what we've found so far:
  • The full-fat versions of Greek yogurt have, well, quite a bit of fat.  But the "light" or "0%" versions are still thick and tasty.
  • Our kids love the fruit-flavored versions.  And sometimes I buy them.  But those fruit-flavored versions have ingredients that end in "ose".  You know, fructose, sucralose...all code for sugar.  In fact, one 6 oz container of "light" (0% fat) raspberry Greek yogurt has 19g of sugar.  If I'm doing my math correctly, that means the kids are eating about 1.5 tablespoons of sugar every time they eat a container of raspberry Greek yogurt.  Ouch.  
  • The containers of vanilla-flavored, light, (or 0%) Greek yogurt in my fridge right now have only 7g of sugar.  They still include some "ose" ingredients, but apparently not as much sugar as the fruit-flavored kinds.  Topped with fresh or frozen berries, this makes an acceptable (and still plenty sweet) snack.
  • Plain, light/fat-free Greek yogurt makes a fabulous base for homemade ranch dip (and homemade apple dip!).  If you just need a little more traditional creaminess in your Ranch dip than the yogurt provides, try substituting the yogurt for half of the sour cream instead of all of it.
  • We just can't get used to the tanginess of plain yogurt topped with fruit.  We still prefer vanilla-flavored yogurt (whether Greek or regular) for parfaits.  Something I've tried with the plain yogurt which has helped:  mixing the berries with a tiny bit of sugar and letting them set for a few minutes (before adding them to the yogurt) will create a sweet juice, which helps off-set the tang of the plain yogurt.  Yes, it's still sugar.  But it's certainly not 1.5 tablespoons.
  • Did you know that you can substitute fat-free/light, plain Greek yogurt for a variety of things in baking?  I haven't tried it yet, but I hope to soon.  Here is a chart with all the information you need.  The chart refers to Chobani, but you can use any brand of plain, Greek yogurt.
  • If you'd like to include more Greek yogurt in your diet but don't care for the texture, try using it as a base for a smoothie instead of eating it plain.

Do you eat Greek yogurt?  Do you use it in baking?  If so, I'd love to hear about it :)


  1. I recently discovered store brand Greek Yogurt at $3.98 for a 32 oz container. I love to blend a cup of it with a scoop of whey protein powder. For me it solves the sweetness issue with much less sugar than flavored yogurt varieties as a scoop of my preferred brand has 2g of sugar, and my typical "serving" of the concoction is 1/4 cup. I've tried chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, and I just bought a chocolate peanut butter flavor I'm excited to try :) Thanks for the informative and insightful post!

  2. I've recently started making my own greek yogurt. It's really good and way cheaper than buying it. It's a little time consuming but really easy.

    1. Hi Michelle - what is your process? Or is there a recipe that you follow?

    2. I take 1 gallon of milk, any kind, and heat it in a pot until it reaches 195 degrees. Stir it regulary or it will get skin on top and brown on the bottom.
      Then let it cool between 115 and 120 degrees. Preheat your oven until 250 degrees. Add a half a cup of yogurt to your milk.
      I heat mine up in a cast iron dutch oven so I just wrap it in a bath towel, otherwise use your crockpot crock. You need something thick. Wrap it in a towel and place it in the oven.
      Turn the oven off, shut the door and leave it over night. I usually put it in the oven about 8 or 9 and pull it out 12 hours later. It should be thick, it might have some watery stuff on top.
      Cover a strainer with paper towel or a thin tea towel. Put the strainer over a pot and pour your yogurt in. Cover with a lid or something. Plastic wrap would work too. Strain for a couple hours, 3-4.
      You will have a bunch of whey in the bottom of your pot. I then pour the yogurt in a bowl and whisk it pretty good, to get the lumps out. If it's really lumpy you can blend it in your blender for a few seconds or use a electric hand beater. Refrigerate.
      I originally got the recipe from Melskitchencafe.com and then changed a few things as I made it and found out this works really well. She does have a yummy fruit syrup recipe to mix in it.
      Sometimes I add 3tbsp of vanilla extract and 1 cup powdered sugar before I mix the yogurt in, to make vanilla yogurt. Sometimes we mix flavored jello powder in too when we eat it, it gives it a yummy flavor.

    3. Thanks so much! I've tried making yogurt before - I used a heating pad and it worked pretty well - but I've been wanting to try an oven method. As well, I've never tried straining it to make it more "Greek". This is going on the "to try" list :) Thanks again for the information!

    4. I also use Mel's Kitchen Cafe's recipe. She has very detailed instructions and pictures. The longer it processes the thicker it gets and the less whey that you need to drain.
      I usually add some vanilla and a little powder sugar when making it.
      And I am looking into using the whey when baking bread as a substitute for water. It is supposed to add more protein to your breads.

  3. The Greek yogurt recipe from above looks really good, I plan on trying that as well! I just wanted to say that I shared a recipe on my blog today that uses Greek yogurt. Here is the link. http://favoritefamilyfoods.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/greek-yogurt-pancakes/. I really am interested to hear how other people use Greek yogurt, as I am JUST learning to use/enjoy it. Thanks for a GREAT post!