After my daughter was born in 2006 I not only gained a beautiful, sweet, precious baby girl, I also gained 70 pounds that would not come off no matter what I did. I tried all of my old diet tricks, consisting of lengthy cardio workout sessions, eating fewer calories and the low-fat, high-carb diet that worked for me so well in the ’90s. But none of that worked. 1 year later I was still 70 lbs. heavier and still gaining. I decided that I needed to call in the pros….I went to go see a nutritionist. My experience with my nutritionist was eye-opening, she advised me to try a higher-protein diet, consuming 90 grams of protein daily! She gave me a list of high protein foods, including “Greek Yogurt,” which I had never heard of before.
When I first tried Greek Yogurt I hated it. The only yogurt I had before was Dannon or Yoplait, which was filled with artificial sweeteners and flavored like strawberry, blueberry or key lime pie. I thought that Greek yogurt was too plain, tangy and flavorless, compared to my sweeter, flavored versions. In fact, I remember thinking “if this is the only yogurt I can eat, I’d rather not have it at all.” But, Greek yogurt must be an acquired taste, because I actually do enjoy it quite a bit now.
This confusion over the general statement of “yogurt is healthy” leads me to my title (inspired by my favorite musical artist: Eminem) “Will the real yogurt please stand up?” Because it is confusing when you go to the grocery store and see everything in the yogurt section from the abhorrent “Trix Yogurt” for kids to the “Fage Greek Yogurt.” Is there a difference?
Oh yes! 0% Greek Yogurt has only 120 calories with a whopping 20 grams of protein! Natural greek yogurt also does not have any added sugars, artificial flavorings or food dyes. Compare that with Au Bon Pain’s large non-fat blueberry yogurt that tops out with 440 calories at 75 grams of sugar! That is more sugar than your typical dessert! Even the Dannon Fit & Light Yogurt is not the best choice, as it only has 5 grams of protein and contains three different types of sugar, food dyes and artificial flavors. A good tip is to look for the LAC label, which means that the yogurt still contains “Live Active Cultures.” The plain Dannon yogurt and Stonybrook Farms both carry yogurt with this label.
Another healthy yogurt choice is Keifer. My daughter LOVES strawberry Keifer. I discovered this gem when my daughter was two years old and refused to drink milk. She is a very picky eater and I was concerned that she was not getting enough calcium in her diet. I tried flavoring her milk with chocolate, strawberry and even vanilla, but she would not drink it. One day I saw strawberry Keifer in Trader Joes and I decided to give it a try. Now she goes through at least two bottles of Keifer a week!
This is great because yogurt and Keifer have “good” bacteria known as probiotics. The probiotics promote gut health, which is critical to preventing all types of diseases, especially chronic degenerative ones. Probiotics help control inflammation and bolster the immune system. They improve digestion, have anticancer properties, increase good cholesterol while lowering the bad kind and even increase the quantity of antibodies when we have an infection.
As I mentioned before, I did learn to love Greek yogurt. And I also lost the 70 lbs plus more, but I’ll share that story at a later time. While I can’t attribute my entire weight loss to Greek yogurt, it certainly helped.
My favorite way to enjoy it is with raspberries, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of Kashi GoLean cereal. It is like a parfait, only healthier! I use greek yogurt in place of sour cream to top my chili and tacos. Also, did you know that you can substitute Keifer or non-fat greek yogurt for butter and oil in baking recipes? I promise that no one will be able to tell a difference!
I also love to make tzatziki sauce with Greek Yogurt when I fix Greek chicken pitas. I’ll share my recipe with you:
- 0% Greek Yogurt
- Seedless cucumber
- Greek Seasoning
- Garlic cloves (minced or pressed through garlic press)
- Juice from one lemon
- Drain the greek yogurt using cheese cloth and a strainer overnight
- Peel and finely grate the seedless cucumber
- Salt the grated cucumber and place in a bowl with plastic wrap to allow the liquid to drain out of the cucumber
- Discard the liquid from the yogurt and cucumber
- Combine the drained greek yogurt with the cucumber and all remaining ingredients and mix until well combined
Have you ever tried Keifer or greek yogurt? Do you like it?