10 reasons to try plain yogurt

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add ranch dressing mix for a delicious dip for fresh vegetables.
  4. Use it as a substitute for sour cream in dips and on baked potatoes, eggs and tacos.
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. Plain yogurt is a suitable non-fat extender for guacamole. Add a couple of dollops for every avocado.
  8. 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.
  9. Use it as a non-fat substitute for vegetable oil in muffins and cakes.
  10. 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.

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