I have had yogurt since I was a child, and I think it's safe to say that most of us know that eating yogurt on the daily basis is good for you. But what is this "Greek" style yogurt that has recently blown up in U.S. markets, and why is it that much better than "regular" yogurt?
Well, it all started many centuries ago, as "yogurt" is derived from the Turkish language meaning "condensed". Yogurt itself, has been around since very ancient times, and it is historically noted that Genghis Khan, (the famous emperor of the Mongol Empire), and his men virtually survived on yogurt! Although it's unclear as to where and when, (specifically), the practice of "straining" yogurt originated, the "Greek" style is used in many Mediterranean countries including: Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and Lebanon. What makes this style so much different than the traditional yogurt Americans have become accustomed to, is that it's thicker, creamier, and has a richer texture and taste. Greek yogurt is traditionally made from goat or ewe's milk, (most of the Greek yogurt produced in our country is made from cow's milk), is strained, (as much as 3 times), to remove the whey, and may involve boiling away excess water content. This process is what gives it the higher fat content and higher protein, and also results in lower carbohydrates, sugars, and lactose, (which also makes it more easily digestible for those who may be "lactose intolerant"!) Compared to standard yogurts, Greek yogurt has almost twice the amount of protein, and because of it's more dense texture, it stabilizes your hunger, and aids in weight loss. Because it also goes through a fermenting process, it also contains the beneficial probiotics for aiding in digestive health and the immune system. It has half the sodium as regular yogurt varieties, still contains a good source of calcium and vitamin D, but less than the other varieties. Greek yogurts are close to double the cost of regular yogurts in comparison, but worth the price in my book! Since trying this style yogurt, I haven't gone back to my "Light" Yoplait, and if you're concerned about higher calories or fat content, simply try one of the "Light" or low-fat kinds, and watch the sugar content for the fruit varieties!
Another great advantedge is that this style yogurt is comparable to sour cream for using in recipes and sauces, and is a much healthier option. It has the same "tanginess", and as a result of the straining process, the yogurt won't curdle when heated, and holds it's full-bodied, creamy texture really well. (Unlike it's "regular" yogurt counterparts!) Plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream in any cold or hot sauce, soup, dip, topping, smoothie, dessert, baked good, etc.! (**May even act as a substitute for butter and cream cheese in some recipes as well.)
Although not everyone is a fan, this style yogurt is becoming increasingly popular in demand in the U.S., (finally!), and for good reason- it's truly incredibly tasting, healthy, and very versatile!