Get to the Greek (Yogurt!)

Greek yogurt is an ingredient that's so flexible and multi-purpose, it's on my list of staples that I always keep on hand. It's rich, creamy and filling with a decently long shelf life, plus Greek yogurt has a seemingly infinite number of ways you can use it in recipes or on its own as a satisfying snack or light breakfast.

Thanks to those fruit-on-the-bottom-or-top versions we're used to, people often think of yogurt as a sweet treat, but Greek yogurt in particular is really great in savory dishes, too.

In chilled recipes, Greek yogurt makes a simple swap for higher calorie and fat ingredients like mayonnaise or sour cream. It also lends a rich texture and creamy finish to hot dishes, which is a good swap for butter or cream. I'm such a fan, Green yogurt is on my official "happy and healthy eating secret ingredient" list; I’ve used it in everything from dips and salads to soups and sides.

Here are some tips for using Greek yogurt to boost the flavor of your dishes while making them sneakily healthier at the same time:

Mayo-Based Salads: Replace all or ½ of the mayo in tuna, egg or chicken salad recipes to slash calories and fat.

Bean Dips & Guacamole: Add a dollop of Greek yogurt to give your guac and bean dips a rich creamy mouth feel. It’s also a great flavor booster if your avocados aren’t fully ripe.

Mashed Potatoes & Other Veggie Purees: Use less butter and cream, yet still achieve silky delicious results by substituting Greek yogurt. It's amazing in everything from celery root puree to cauliflower and potato gratins, and yes, it's super yummy in mashed potatoes.

Soups, Stews & Chilis: Swap Greek yogurt for ½ or all of the heavy cream in creamy soups. Simply whisk it in at the end of cook time. Try it in all your favorites from cream of broccoli to Butternut Squash Bisque. You can also swirl it into Indian curries or use it as a cooling topper for spicy chili. 

Fresh Fruit Parfaits: Greek yogurt is a delicious, easy breakfast layered with fresh fruit, chopped nuts or granola for crunch. My girls like to sweeten theirs up with honey or vanilla flavoring syrup. Looking for those fruit flavors we all love in yogurt? Stir in a little all-fruit jam to make your own lower-sugar version at home.

Fruit Smoothies: I generally keep a variety of frozen and fresh fruit on hand for easy smoothie-making. Skip the $6 versions around town; just toss your favorite fruit in a blender with a bit of juice and Greek yogurt for a super rich and creamy smoothie exactly how you like it.

Swap the Sour Cream: Greek yogurt is a no-brainer replacement for sour cream in any salad dressing or dip. Want to test my theory? Check out my simple, super tasty Greek Tzatziki Sauce recipe below.  or in creamy sauces like this easy and tasty recipe for Greek Tzatziki Sauce.

Greek Tzatzki Sauce

Transform simple grilled chicken in a pita into something really special with just a dollop (or more!) of this tangy tzatziki dip. You can also try drizzling it over poached salmon, or use it as a dressing for chickpea chopped salad. Tzatziki's also delicious as a dip for veggies, baked pita chips, poached shrimp and more!

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 4-6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
  • 1 plum tomato seeded, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 TB chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried dill weed)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt 
  • pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste

Instructions

Whisk all ingredients together and chill to blend flavors. Keep tightly covered in fridge for up to 5 days.