Packed with high-quality protein and bone-building calcium, yogurt is one of the healthiest foods. You can read about the health benefits of yogurt, and why Lark recommends eating yogurt, here. When you are ready to get more yogurt in your regular routine, or you are just wondering about how to make it more interesting, here are some healthy ways to try plain yogurt.
1. Yogurt Parfait
In a tall glass, layer yogurt, fruit, and oats, then repeat. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and most other kinds of fruit work well. The oats can be fresh or toasted. You could even use homemade granola made by tossing oats, seeds, and sliced almonds with orange juice and canola oil, and baking it.
2. Topping instead of sour cream. Chili, burritos, tacos, soup
Greek yogurt is thick and acidic like sour cream, but it has only one-quarter of the calories that sour cream does. It makes an excellent topping for chili, burritos, tacos, fresh fruit, and anything else that you might top with sour cream.
3. Green Goddess Dressing
Using regular instead of Greek yogurt keeps this dressing from being too thick. Blend yogurt with garlic, parsley, chives, lemon juice, and olive oil, then serve on a salad. Skip the lemon juice and parsley, and add chopped dill, to make ranch dressing instead.
4. Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Yogurt can substitute for half the sour cream or cream cheese in dips such as ranch and onion. To make red pepper dip, puree yogurt with fresh roasted red peppers or peppers from a jar, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, and olive oil.
5. Sun-Dried Tomato Walnut Dip
Puree sun-dried tomatoes and blend with garlic, Greek yogurt, sliced green onions, fresh basil, and salt and pepper. You can add walnuts for a crunch.
6. Yogurt Guacamole
It is easy to blend mashed avocado, lime juice, diced tomatoes, Greek yogurt, diced onion, garlic, and cilantro to make creamy, healthy guacamole.
This traditional Greek sauce has yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, grated cucumber, and fresh dill. You can serve it as a dip, or as a spread on whole-wheat pita with chicken or falafel.
8. Roasted Salmon
Salmon goes quickly in and out of a yogurt-based marinade before being baked. The marinade has yogurt, crushed garlic, diced onion, turmeric, red pepper flakes, cumin, and ginger.
9. PB&J Yogurt
Stir peanut butter or almond butter and your favorite fruit into yogurt, and enjoy the classic taste of a PB&J sandwich with more protein and fewer carbs.
10. Overnight Apple Pie Oatmeal
Running out of time is no excuse for skipping breakfast or opting for an unhealthy one. Overnight oatmeal takes a couple of minutes to throw together the night before so it is ready for you in the busy morning. Stir together chopped apples, oats, yogurt, and cinnamon, and refrigerate overnight. You can also add walnuts or pecans if you like.
11. Fruit Yogurt Pops
You can use whole strawberries or chunks of fruit, such as bananas, kiwi, and peaches. Place a popsicle stick in the fruit. Use plain yogurt or mix the yogurt with cinnamon or cocoa and your favorite sweetener. Then dip the fruit into the yogurt. You can sprinkle on chopped peanuts, seeds, oats, or crushed whole-grain cereal. Then freeze and enjoy.
12. Creamed Spinach
Saute fresh spinach with olive oil, garlic, and diced onion, then mix with Greek yogurt. You are done! Parmesan can add extra flavor and calcium, and if you want to make your creamed spinach a main course, just add cooked chicken or fish.
13. Cream of Mushroom Soup
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, then add mushrooms, salt, rosemary, and pepper. Cook, then add white wine, let it boil away, and add non-fat plain Greek yogurt and low-sodium broth. Simmer until everything is well-cooked.
14. Cheesy Stuffed Butternut Squash
Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil, and bake. Then scoop out the insides, mix them with a blend of yogurt, cheddar or another cheese, cooked chopped broccoli florets, and black pepper, and bake it until the cheese melts.
15. Black Bean Soup
Cook onions, garlic, celery, and carrots with olive oil. Add cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and (optional) red pepper flakes. Add low-sodium broth and cooked black beans. Stir in yogurt just before serving to make it creamy.