What you want (and don’t want) in your yogurt
The beneficial live cultures in yogurt might just save your life, or at least prolong it. But not all yogurts are created equal.
Yogurt has probably been around almost since the first herders decided that stealing a cow’s milk was a clever notion. The thickened product of dairy and bacteria combined has been an essential part of various cultures’ culinary vocabularies for millennia, in a plethora of forms— drinks, desserts, marinades, and more.
Twenty years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find more than one or two options for yogurt in your market. Now, a dizzying array of choices will overwhelm you in your local dairy case. The following suggestions should help to clear away the clutter and steer you to the most beneficial choices.
It all boils down to—read the label.
Ingredients. Ideally, you want nothing in your yogurt but milk and live cultures. Fruit, sugar, pectin, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners—these all crowd out the active cultures and add empty calories. It’s best to make your own additions if you need to—a drizzle of honey, a few drops of vanilla extract, or a bit of chopped fresh fruit. Try a teaspoon of Hungarian acacia honey and a couple of strawberries from the farmers’ market.
Live Cultures. Make sure the “LAC” (Live and Active Cultures) seal appears on the label, and that the product is not “heat treated”—that process destroys most of the beneficial bacteria. And the more different bacterial cultures listed on the label, the better.
Fat Content. This is a matter of dietary needs and choice. Whole, low-fat, non-fat—choose according to your own personal needs. Chobani all-natural non-fat Greek yogurt, for example, is gratifyingly thick, not too tangy, and has plenty of protein.
Protein and Sugar. Think all yogurt is rich in protein? Think again. You might be surprised to learn that many yogurts offer little in the way of protein—except, that is, for Greek yogurt, which provides a whopping 19—20 gm of protein per 1-cup serving. While you are scrutinizing the label for protein content, be sure to check out the sugar content as well—avoid sugary yogurts (anything over 10 gm is generally too much sugar). Your best bet? Go with the “original” or “plain” and add your own sweetener.
Minted Yogurt, Roasted Eggplant, & Red Pepper Roll-ups
24 ounces plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggplants, cut into
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbs. capers, drained
1 tsp. crushed pink peppercorns
2 large sheets lavash bread
8 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained
6 medium Persian cucumbers, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
- Drain yogurt in cheesecloth-lined sieve over bowl in refrigerator for two hours.
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Drizzle eggplant slices with olive oil, and place in single layer on baking sheet(s). Roast until cooked through, turning once, 10-12 minutes.
- Combine drained yogurt with mint leaves, lemon zest , capers, and peppercorns.
- Assembly: Lay out lavash sheets. Arrange eggplants slices in a single layer, leaving 2 inches clear at the top. Layer red peppers on top. Spread yogurt mixture over them. Sprinkle diced cucumbers and onion evenly over all. Starting with the edge nearest you, carefully roll up each lavash; secure with a few toothpicks if necessary. Cut in half and serve.
per serving: 318 cal; 14 g prot; 13 g total fat (2 g sat fat);44 g carb; 6 mg chol; 224 mg sod; 11g fiber; 11 g sugars