I’m always trying to find healthy, tasty ways to increase the protein in my teenage daughter’s diet since she declared herself a vegetarian (but not vegan) about three years ago. Greek yogurt contains almost twice as much protein as regular yogurt, with less sodium and sugar, so it’s a great way to help her get enough.
When comparing six different brands of non-fat Greek yogurt I found some variation, but almost all of them consistently outdid regular yogurt with the exception of calcium content. Most brands of Greek yogurt contain between 20 and 23 grams of protein per cup compared to 11 grams per cup of regular American yogurt. In addition, the Greek yogurt brands had from 85 to 105 milligrams of sodium compared to 170 milligrams in regular yogurt. I only analyzed 0% fat, plain, no added sugar Greek yogurt, but it appears that sweet Greek yogurt contains less sugar as well: six to nine grams compared to 16 grams in regular yogurt. I sweeten plain yogurt by mixing in agave nectar – so that I can control the amount of sweetness.
All the brands contain at least two and at most five live active cultures, except the Athenos brand, which contains no probiotics. None of these yogurt brands use cows treated with growth hormones, but only Stonyfield Oikos is certified as organic.
Regular American yogurt is higher in calcium, with 40% of our daily requirement of calcium while most Greek yogurt contains 30%. Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt (20%) and Fage (25%) are lower in calcium.
Greek yogurt has been strained, so much of the whey is removed and it is a thicker, creamier consistency than traditional American yogurt. This firmer consistency improves the texture when you eat it, but also makes it helpful to use when cooking.
If my daughter had been raised with Greek yogurt rather than our American version, she probably would like eating yogurt but, unfortunately, she is not much of a yogurt fan, so I have to be creative.
It’s easy to throw Greek yogurt in smoothies. My daughter likes yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola from time to time. I make it up and pass it to her on her way to school. I came up with a healthy Strawberry Yogurt “Pie” that can actually be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dessert, using a granola crust. Try using Greek yogurt in baked goods to add protein and moisture, like in my Pumpkin Yogurt Muffins. Greek yogurt can be substituted into any recipe that uses sour cream, since the consistency is very similar to it, more than regular yogurt is. It’s great in dips too. Mix one part vanilla Greek yogurt with one part peanut butter for a fruit dip. Replace sour cream and/or mayo with plain Greek yogurt in dips and salads like chicken, tuna, and potato salad. Add plain Greek yogurt to mashed potatoes for a more nutritious and creamier side dish. Creamed soups are fantastic with Greek yogurt instead of cream, especially in those soups that have natural sweetness like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. The Greek yogurt evens out the flavor and makes it creamy even when using 0% fat Greek yogurt. This fall, try my Roasted Sweet Potato Soup or Roasted Sweet Potato Chowder if you prefer chunky soup. Go Greek yogurt!