Food Diary: Greek Yogurt Makes Life Good

skitched-20081114-170704.jpgI 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.

Food Tip #5: Greek yogurt makes all kinds of foods yummier.

Bircher Muesli with YogurtGreek yogurt with muesli is obvious – I’ve been enjoying this the past couple days on my Bircher Muesli. Fan-freakin’-tastic. Especially with apricots.

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
  • Yoga
  • 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!

Bircher Muesli with Greek Yogurt

Refried Pinto Beans with Salad and Corn


Vegetable Tagine with Couscous and Cucumber Salad

8 thoughts on “Food Diary: Greek Yogurt Makes Life Good

  1. Liz Turtle

    You know, I can’t believe I still haven’t tried Greek yogurt. I’ve heard one person after another extol its virtues (and its tasty taste) and still manage to pass it by in the grocery store. Maybe I will find a very simple recipe that calls for its use to try it out!

  2. beadmobile

    Just got back from lunchtime yoga & am enjoying my lunch (salad w/lettuce, spinach, cukes, broccoli, black beans, avocado, roasted cauliflower & brussle sprouts & some fresh lime juice). I have been following your rss feed for about 3 months now & wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your meals and providing some great ideas about how to eat good/healthy food. Thank you! You have inspired me again today! I’ve also started adding things like walnuts & almonds & apples & peanut butter to my plain ol’ oatmeal! Going to try soaking the oats with some apple cider this weekend & mashing a banana in there too. Bircher muesli is like sewing – you can make it any way you want it! Thanks again for thought provoking & meaningful posts!

  3. Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    The real Greek yogurt–in Greece–was thick like sour cream. It was one of the tastiest foods ever, especially combined with honey.

    For vegan yogurt, you can of course do soy yogurt, but even those of us not eating soy can now get coconut milk-based yogurt! It’s not for everything, but it’s soooo nice for some things (like on fish tacos!).

  4. monica

    @Liz – world’s simplest greek yogurt recipe: eat it plain. It’s that good. Or have it with some honey… or with cereal… you’ve gotta try it!

    @bead – why thank you for the nice comment! I am glad I’ve given you some ideas… that salad sounds AWESOME. I love all of those ingredients, especially avocado and brussel sprouts. I also like your bircher/sewing metaphor. It’s so true. Let me know how the cider/banana goes!

    @lolfitness – a collage huh? That would be awesome. Maybe for the kitchen? Actually, flickr makes photo mosaics pretty easy… I will do that when I eventually get around to blogging about bircher.

    Sagan – I’ve done the yogurt with frozen blueberries. Love it. Love frozen fruit in general. Especially bananas. And I like how it makes the yogurt really cold and refreshing.

    @Sally – GREAT tips on the vegan yogurt. I was eating soy yogurt for a while (homemade) but made a bad batch once and it put me off. That coconut yogurt sounds awesome though. And you have reignited my desire to go to Greece. I bet it’s amazing.

  5. Andrea

    I love love love greek yogurt, but my budget does not! I throw a couple of Oikos containers in our cart every week, and usually do the typical fruit/honey/nuts combo. But I’ve also found that it works well in baking! It keeps banana bread really moist…

  6. Evita

    I totally relate to the yogurt story. I was a yogurt fanatic before I went vegetarian and then wanted nothing to do with the high saturated fat and some sugar (in flavored ones) and just plain dairy! But then I came across and remembered Kefir and found some of that as well as what you have similar to the Greek type of yogurt all natural and organic and I incorporate them into my days a couple times a week or so. I find the Kefir is absolutely amazing for the intestines.


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