I used to be a yogurt fiend, but this has sort of died down since I’ve drifted towards a mostly animal-free diet. During my yogurt phase, I was still under the impression that I needed less fat in my diet, so my yogurt consumption was restricted to the fat-free kind. Not anymore. I recently purchased a container of Greek yogurt so I could make Heidi’s awesome-sounding Cumin-Spiked Tofu (I was not disappointed – it was awesome-tasting!).
After cooking the tofu, I was left with half a container of Greek yogurt to finish, so I’ve been adding it to a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory, to see how it works. Dude. This stuff is phenomenal. I know lots of you already enjoy your fair share of yogurt with fruit and honey but there are SO many more ways to enjoy Greek yogurt.
Less obvious is Greek yogurt with savory dishes. Here’s an example: for lunch I heated up a tin of refried beans, adding a little pan-fried onion and green chili, then topped it with some Greek yogurt and a pinch of smoked paprika. Holy wow was this good. Just a spoonful of Greek yogurt turned plain refried beans into something quite decadent. And it took less than 10 minutes to make!
Here are some other suggestions for Greek yogurt:
- Add a dollop of Greek yogurt to soups, especially lentil and split pea soups.
- Use it as a dip for fruit
- Add it to a smoothie
- Combine it with lemon and herbs for a delicious vegetable dip
“But Monica, Greek yogurt is a fat bomb.”
To that I say: so? Fatty food can be healthy too. Don’t believe me? What about Dr. Perricone, doctor, author and best friend of Oprah? On her website, he calls yogurt a “superfood” and explains how yogurt may actually help people maintain lean muscle mass and lose fat from their waistlines (again with the waistlines!):
Research shows that calcium helps reduce weight gain. Even small changes in the calcium levels of fat cells can change signals within the cell that control the making and burning of fat.
The authors of a 2003 study at the University of Tennessee placed 34 obese people on a low-calorie diet. Sixteen of them were given 400 to 500 mg of calcium in the form of a daily supplement. The other 18 people ate a diet higher in calcium— 1,100 mg per day—in the form of yogurt. After 12 weeks, both groups lost fat. The supplement-taking group had six pounds less fat, but the yogurt group lost about 10 pounds of fat. And, those who ate yogurt discovered that their waists shrank by more than an inch and a half. In comparison, the supplement-taking subjects lost only about a quarter of an inch in waist size. Finally, a whopping 60 percent of the yogurt eaters’ weight loss was belly fat, while only 26 percent of the supplement group’s loss was belly fat.
This is very exciting news as belly fat—which doctors call visceral or intra-abdominal fat—is linked to high cholesterol, high insulin, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and other problems. Visceral fat may also secrete more disease-linked inflammatory molecules than other types of fat.
The study also reported that in addition to helping the participants lose more weight, the group that ate yogurt was about twice as effective at maintaining lean muscle mass.
Any other Greek yogurt fans out there? How do you eat it?
Speaking of eating, here’s what I ate on Thursday:
- Morning Tea: Lemon and Honey
- Breakfast: Bircher Muesli with Greek Yogurt and Rooibos Tea.
- Lunch: Refried Pinto Beans with Greek Yogurt, Corn on the Cob and Salad. Corn was a little dry and unsweet. The season for corn has passed. Boo.
- Snack: Kiwi fruit.
- Dinner: Vegetable tagine with chickpea couscous and cucumber salad. I bet Greek yogurt would have been great with this, but the tagine was filling enough, maybe too filling. I can only take so much stodgy food in one sitting!