Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spice It UP!!! Yogurt

I know what you are thinking--yogurt is just good for a snack or breakfast.  Sorry to say, friend, but you are sorely mistaken.  Yogurt is pretty awesome in more than just that capacity!  Did you know that yogurt softens tough meats because of the acidity and the bacteria found in yogurt?  Pretty cool!

Greek Yogurt
{Generic Greek yogurt--I'm not brand loyal generally}

Yogurt is believed to have originated in the Middle East and Central Asia region as a way to preserve milk from their animals; they also dried yogurt as an easier means to transport it.  This is why it's a base for many dishes in this region compared to European cuisines.  In the Middle East and Central Asian countries, they marinate their meat in yogurt and make dipping sauces with the yogurt.  (source)

Yogurt is most known for its pro-biotic qualities (aka helps with digestion tract by making sure the bacteria are good and healthy).  However, not all yogurts are created equal as far as bacteria goes.  The following distinction is found on World's Healthiest Foods:
Since measurement of living versus dead bacteria in a yogurt can be complicated, most companies also report the live bacteria content of their yogurt in terms of "cfu" or "colony forming units. CFUs are best thought of as viable bacterial cells that capable of multiplying and forming larger colonies of bacteria. It's also worth noting here that in scientific notation, the number one million (1,000,000) is typically written as 106. So you might see a phrase like "106 CFUs" on package information about yogurt. This phrase tells you that the yogurt contained at least 1,000,000 viable bacterial cells at the time when it was manufactured. The National Yogurt Association (NYA) has adopted this 106 CFU standard for any fresh yogurt displaying its "Live and Active Cultures" (LAC) seal. 
Yogurt also has several more nutrients like protein, vitamin B, calcium, etc (source and source)

Live and Active Culture label
{Live and Active Culture label}

Yogurt comes in many, many different forms from flavored to plain, low-fat to full fat, Greek to non-dairy, even regular to smoothie!  It's whatever you want!  Personally, I prefer Greek style yogurt especially when cooking or baking; it's not as sweet and has more protein than regular yogurt.  I drink a cultured milk smoothie called Kefir (can be found in the health food section of most Kroger stores) which is like thinned yogurt for breakfast every morning.  The label refers to Kefir as the champagne of dairy, and in fact, it should be slightly effervescent meaning that the bacteria are alive and working.

 {Kefir comes in several flavors, but these are my favorite.  Kefir is great for lactose-intolerant people and people who don't want to drink milk or eat dairy (like myself)}

You can make yogurt at home.  I've never tried to do so, but I have seen those kits and thought about it.  If you feel like trying, I would suggest this website and this one too!

Now for the good stuff--recipes with yogurt!  I have made some sweet recipes, but mostly they have used yogurt to marinate the meat or make a dipping sauce.  I have a few more yogurt recipes that will hopefully work out so watch out for them in March!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Butter Chicken
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt
Chocolate Mousse
Chicken Shawarma
Garam Masala Chicken
Healthy Cupcakes
Healthy Muffins 
Lemonade Popsicles
Pork Souvlaki Kebabs
Quark (savory yogurt sauce)
Tikka Masala
Tzatziki (Middle Eastern Garlic Sauce)
Yogurt Bites

Do you use yogurt for anything besides as a snack or breakfast?
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