Think of “plain” as “versatile” instead of “boring” and you’ll be on you way to enjoying a healthy — yet still creamy — alternative to all kinds of high-fat options.
I’m so accustomed to eating plain yogurt now, I can barely stomach that super sweet stuff that is passed off as good for you.
Remember, “plain” doesn’t mean “vanilla.” Plain yogurt has no sugar and no flavoring; look for non-fat as opposed to low-fat or full fat. Make it even better by draining some of the whey (use a cheesecloth and let it sit a couple of hours in the fridge); you’ll end up with a thicker substance the consistency of Greek yogurt without the high price.
While it’s possible to eat it right out of the container, I don’t recommend it especially if you’ve never eaten it before. Here are 10 other reasons to try it:
- Create your own flavored yogurt with chunks of fresh fruit. Add sugar or sweetener to taste. A six-ounce container of Yoplait Original Yogurt contains seven teaspoons of sugar! When you add your own sweetener, you’ll almost certainly use less.
- Use plain yogurt as a non-fat substitute for mayonnaise in tuna salad, chicken salad, ham salad or macaroni salad. You’ll probably never taste the difference, and even if you use half mayo/half yogurt, you’ll save fat and calories. A tablespoon of plain yogurt has 8 calories while a tablespoon of light mayonnaise has 45.
- Add ranch dressing mix for a delicious dip for fresh vegetables.
- Use it as a substitute for sour cream in dips and on baked potatoes, eggs and tacos.
- Plain yogurt makes a killer tzatziki sauce. Add finely diced cucumber, chopped garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and fresh or dried dill. Great with gyros, of course, but also good as a spread for sandwiches and as a vegetable dip. Tzatziki sauce is also wonderful on Crispy Chickpea Pitas instead of just plain yogurt (click here for the recipe).
- Use it as a substitute for cream cheese in dips and desserts (I recommend using a tested recipe when making this substitution; baking is more scientific than stove-top cooking).
- Plain yogurt is a suitable non-fat extender for guacamole. Add a couple of dollops for every avocado.
- Plain yogurt contains L. acidophilus yogurt cultures which promote good bacteria in your gut. Yup, you don’t need to spring for the pricier yogurt with the expensive ad campaign.
- Use it as a non-fat substitute for vegetable oil in muffins and cakes.
- Plain yogurt is a delicious and hearty topping on hot cereal like oatmeal or Malt-o-Meal topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries or applesauce.
Have other ideas? Please share. Give it a try and let me know what you think.