Yogurt is great on its own or as a healthy substitute

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
lienhart@purdue.edu

Eating yogurt as a part of your everyday healthy eating is a way of life for many.

When milk is held for several hours at a temperature of 110 degrees, lactic acid-producing bacteria grows and causes the milk to coagulate. The result is yogurt, a fermented milk product with a thick, creamy texture and a tangy flavor.

In the last 20 years, yogurt’s acceptance has grown in America. Yogurt can be eaten at breakfast, as a quick lunch or snack, or as a dessert with fruit. I suggest you substitute yogurt as a healthier alternative for sour cream, mayonnaise-style salad dressing, dips, spreads, soup garnishes, baked potato topping and in baking.

Yogurt is available in plain and flavored styles, and is made with whole milk, low fat milk or nonfat milk. Many of the flavored versions are fruit-based. Some fruit yogurts have the fruit on the bottom of the container; others have the fruit dispersed throughout. Other flavors such as chocolate, vanilla and key lime pie are increasingly popular as well.

Caloric content of yogurt will vary among flavors and brands, and sweeteners such as sugar and fruit preserves add calories but have no nutritional contribution.

If reducing calories and losing weight is a goal, use plain or vanilla yogurt. You can add fresh, frozen or canned fruit, which will add fewer calories and more nutrition than many other desserts.

When you look at a container of yogurt, you’ll find important information. The ingredients for a container with fruit might read: cultured low fat milk, sugar, corn syrup, red raspberry preserves and nonfat dry milk. You will also find special purpose ingredients listed. These are safe and suitable substances, which serve to give a firmer texture, sweeten, and prevent whey or liquid separation.

When you are making a dip or the dressing for a salad like chicken salad, use half plain or vanilla yogurt and half salad dressing or mayonnaise. Here is an easy way to make a light tuna or chicken salad.

Tuna-Apple Salad
Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 6½ to 7 oz. tuna in water
  • 1 unpeeled apple, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Lettuce as desired

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain tuna. In small to medium-sized bowl, mix tuna and other ingredients except lettuce.
  2. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.

Incorporate yogurt into your everyday meal planning. Also, substitute yogurt when preparing food so you can reduce the calories and increase your dairy intake. So often, the recipe is lighter and fresher-tasting and most people don’t even taste the yogurt.

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.
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