Study Break Snack: Greek Yogurt with Fixin’s

Snack: Greek Yogurt with Fixin’s
Brain Booster Rating:8 out of 10. Greek yogurt is a protein maniac. You can get 20-30% of your daily recommended protein from one low-calorie serving. A cup of this stuff will keep you full through a late afternoon class that inches oh so slowly towards dinner time.
Equipment: Spoon, Bowl, Knife, Microwave (optional– for defrosting frozen fruit or melting chocolate)
Ingredients: Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt, Various Fixin’s

Are you satisfied with your current yogurt situation? Yes? Sigh. Pause. Listen, kid, I used to be like you. Content purchasing such flavors as peach or… or blueberry (double italicized, if I could) without a care in the world. That was before I finally tired of being a passenger on the ride of life, silently sulking as the vehicle turned right-on-red when the sign clearly stated no right on red. ‘That’s just not the way it’s supposed to be,’ I said to myself. But then I took control of my yogurt situation and you can too.

You see, Greek yogurt is regular yogurt that has been strained, resulting in a thicker, creamier product with more protein per capita after all that extra stuff (the watery layer on top of your yogurt and then some) has been removed. This produces more tartness as well. It’s also a tad more expensive, yes, but for more buck, there’s more bang. And you deserve more bang, my friend.

From now on, confidently select a Greek yogurt from the shelf in front of you. Brands like Chobani and Fage make only Greek yogurt, while Stonyfield Farms and Dannon sell Greek-style (with Parthenons and stuff on the front) alongside their regular fare. This is your first task.

Your second task is to conquer the evil lurking in all yogurts: added sugars. Plain yogurt has no added sugar, vanilla has a little and other flavors are difficult to interpret since labels do not differentiate between added sugar (evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, etc.) and the naturally occurring sugar in the fruits. If you can handle the tart taste without smacking your lips like a damn fool, use plain yogurt as a base for your creations. If not, you can join me in choosing vanilla, which is plain tasting enough but still pleasantly sweet.

Continuing down “Big Yogurt’s” path of deceit, when they say strawberry yogurt, they really mean crappy strawberries on steroids (sugar) because sugar is cheaper than real strawberries. Keep strawberries that have worked hard for their natural bulk and sweetness in your fridge or freezer and mix into plain yogurt. More good sugars, less tears and broken promises. Plus, okay, would you rather sit down to the glorious creation pictured above, or bleh, a thin layer of limp strawberry (and kiwi, if you’re lucky) pulp relegated to the bottom of a plastic cup? I thought so.

Next time you’re at the store, notice all the crazy flavors Yoplait and Dannon put out there. Boston cream pie and all this. Sans the various chemicals they use, you can translate them into homemade versions, like pina colada with shredded coconut and pineapple; bananas foster with brown sugar, walnut and banana; or strawberry shortcake with a couple Nilla wafers and strawberries. Whoa.

Another zen thought is that refrigerated vanilla yogurt is the very same thing as vanilla frozen yogurt. Double whoa. So feel free to get a little bit chocolate up in there if you’re feeling wild. I take a single square of Ghiradelli chocolate, microwave it for 15-30 seconds with a tablespoon of milk and stir til combined for a tiny batch of ganache to mix in. I’ll even confess that I’ve tried Nutella in yogurt and liked it.

Additionally, expand your horizons by realizing that plain yogurt and sour cream are basically like cousins who Skype a lot. Lots in common, lots to talk about. Thus, yogurt can be used in creamy dips like this one for an amped up snack that can accompany a few days worth of carrot sticks, celery or pita bread.

Lastly, please note that I’m highly socially accepted because of my positions on yogurt. Thank you for your time and good luck on your journey.

Jen Cantin is pursuing her Masters in Communications at Clark University in the beautiful, yes beautiful, Worcester, Mass. She shares other (a)musings at Deep Fried Epiphany and dedicates this post to the unopened cup of peach Chobani yogurt someone left in our driveway last week (?) that is still sitting there right now. Read more…

Originally posted on Monday, September 26th, 2011

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