19 Jun

A User’s Guide to Greek Yogurt

Sorry for the delay in posting. I am in the midst of updating my blog and finding a new design, so the more I post the more I will need to update. But hopefully in a few short weeks I’ll get back to my weekly posts.

I could talk about Greek yogurt for well, hours. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I can definitely talk about it for at least a few minutes.  And since I’m a Nutritionist, I have the perfect excuse to talk about it for minutes.

It’s no news that it’s healthy. It’s extensively strained, removing some of the liquid and lactose, leaving double the amount of protein with less carbs/lactose. So with Greek, you get more nutrition for the calories, or in other words, more nutritional bang for your buck.  Depending on the brand, 6 ounce serving can have 14-20 grams of protein, which is not only the amount in 2-3 ounces of chicken, but also a heck of a lot more compared to just 6-9 grams in traditional yogurt. It’s a bit pricier than regular yogurt, but it will keep you full for longer. It’s also a bit richer, creamier, tangier and less sweet than it’s traditional cousin.

Now for the aha moment – not all Greek yogurt is created equally.  Different brands, flavors and fat contents make all the difference. 

Buyer’s Bible

1. Go fat-free or low fat – look for 0-1% fat. Full fat, classic Fage brand can have up 10 gm of saturated fat in 7 ounces.

2. Buy plain, flavor it yourself.

3. Read the ingredient list. All  you should see is milk (skim)and probiotics, or live cultures.

4. Vanilla or fruit flavors does not just mean vanilla or fruit flavors. You’ll see vanilla = vanilla extract + sugar or cane juice. Fruit = fruit flavors + sugar or cane juice + “natural flavors” – whatever that means.  See below a’la Chobani’s label for fat-free vanilla and strawberry yogurts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

All yogurt has some sugar because of lactose, which is the natural sugar in all milk products. So why add more? One small sugar packet has 4 grams of sugar. So whenever I read labels, I take the grams of sugar and break it up into sugar packets. Would I ever pour in 4 sugar packets into a 6 ounce yogurt; so why would I allow food companies to? 

Buy plain and add your own flavorings like vanilla and fresh fruit. If you like sweet, try honey, maple syrup or jelly. Even if you want to add refined sugar, it’s still better for you to be the one controlling the amount. Adding 1 teaspoon honey will add only 20 calories and ~5 grams of sugar. Whereas if you buy yogurt with pre-added honey, it can load on an extra 50 calories and 13 grams of sugar. My personal fav is plain non-fat Fage mixed well with a teaspoon of vanilla extract and fresh berries.

Brand Comparison

Let’s compare some popular brands and flavors. Not to confuse ya even more, but food companies love manipulating portion sizes to make their nutrition labels more appealing. So remember, some of these brands are based on slightly different portions. Trader Joe’s and Oikos (Stonyfield) makes a smaller 5.3 ounces container, so it may seem like they have less calories and sugar than other brands’ 6 ounce containers.

Alternate Uses 

You don’t just have to eat Greek yo for breakfast or snacks. It can be a great in cooking or baking, especially when replacing  sour cream or mayo.

1. Creamy base for dips, dressings or soups

2. Binder for breading on fish/chicken instead of eggs

3. Smoothies

4. Before hitting the gym, have Greek yo instead of grabbing a protein shake – it’s cheaper and tastier

For recipe ideas, visit the recipe section of Chobani’s site. 

 

And for those trying Greek yogurt for the first time, be sure to do a thorough body scan before leaving your house as it does tend to leave a mustache. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.