Normally when going to the grocery store, I just grab whatever flavour of yogurt is currently jumping out at me. I owe no allegiance to a certain brand, yogurt is an always changing enigma within my fridge. However, a growing healthy craze right now involves the introduction of Greek Yogurt, a supposed super-healthy alternative to the normal variety. Well alright, I'll give you an opportunity Greek Yogurt! Let's see what you're made of!!
The History: The word yogurt is actually Turkish, meaning "thickened". How the idea of fermented milk occurred is one of those world mysteries, and will most likely be impossible to ever determine. However, it happened, and yogurt was born! It has been mentioned in biblical accounts with Moses and Abraham, Greek historians such as Homer, Herodotus, and Pliny have spoken of yogurts healing properties, and the Russian Nobel Peace prize winner, Elie Metchnikoff, did a scientific study on yogurts positive effects on the population. Basically, yogurt has been loved for generations.
Greek yogurt is still yogurt, so don't think I'm going way off base by giving it a try. However, the main difference you'll notice immediately, is the texture. Greek yogurt appears more as a sour cream than the almost liquidy North American version.
The creation of yogurt is done by fermentation the bacteria found within milk products. Greek Yogurt takes this process by filtering out the whey. The milk is placed into a bag that filters out the liquid parts and leaves the body. This would be why Greek Yogurt is so much thicker. Often Greek Yogurt is also made with the addition of butterfat, powdered milk or other thickening agents.
In terms of health benefits, Greek yogurt, like North American yogurt, is a good source of calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12. The key difference in health from the North American Yogurt, is that it's actually a better source of protein, and a lower source of fat and sugars. Even with the reduction is most fat types, Greek yogurt actually has a high Saturated Fat content, which if eaten in excess, can have its own negative health effects. However, finding Greek Yogurt made with low or non-fat milk helps to eliminate this.
Oh, and don't both getting flavoured Greek Yogurt, because you've basically just added a ton of sugar to the food that's supposed to be without. Instead, try adding natural sugars like honey, maple syrup or fruit to sweeten it up if needed.
We made (or the fiance actually did) fajitas while visiting my dad the last couple of days, and instead of sour cream we substituted the Greek Yogurt. And you know... it was actually surprisingly good in this dish! Maybe even better than actual sour cream. I was pleasantly surprised.
For dessert, we combined Greek Yogurt, fresh old fashioned honey, and some walnuts. I found this also fairly delightful, as the sweet honey really meshed well with the yogurt. However, my dad and I found that it was better with the honey drizzled over top, as it was almost like layers of flavour. The fiance stirred hers all together and experienced the same wrinkled face.
I had forgotten to snap any pictures, and had left the container in my dad's fridge. So to show some support, they snapped off some pictures of their own, and now have totally outdone me. Maybe I should start sending them plates of my food to get some better looking shots! I mean, look at how beautiful those photos are! Many, MANY thanks to them! So now I'm under the influence of having Greek Yogurt around instead of the less healthy Sour Cream, and perhaps for the occasional dish (Fruit or maple syrup would also be interesting additions).
Have you ever tried Greek Yogurt? What are your thoughts? Which do you prefer, Greek or North American Yogurt?