It’s all Greek to me!

My favorite go to breakfast is a bowl of yogurt, sprinkled with granola and doused in fresh fruit.  However, it seems like whenever I go to the grocery store now a new brand of yogurt has been added to the shelves.

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Every time I pick up a food magazine or scroll through food websites there is always some brand of yogurt being advertised.  It’s no wonder that yogurt has become so popular; one serving of yogurt is high in calcium and phosphorous and low in fat. It is said to boost your immune system, help to maintain a healthy digestive system and lower your cholesterol. For the most part, as long as they’re not loaded with artificial flavorings and sugar, yogurt makes a great snack, meal or dessert.

But what’s the big difference between all these types of yogurt?  Don’t worry it was all Greek to me, too, until about a week ago.

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Many food articles now claim that Greek yogurt is the healthiest of yogurts, a super food in fact.  I wondered though was this really true? Greek yogurt has a distinct tart taste compared to its conventional cousin.  Therefore it is more versatile in cooking, acting as a great substitute for sour cream and milk.  Greek yogurt is strained more than conventional yogurt, which leaves the final product with less liquid whey, sugar and lactose.  It also packs in twice as much protein (15-20 g) per serving than conventional yogurt, making it a great option for vegetarians or people seeking to add more protein to their diet.

However, during the involved straining process, Greek yogurt it loses some of the important bone building calcium.  Conventional yogurt has two to three times the amount of calcium as Greek yogurt.  Regardless, both yogurts are a sufficient source of calcium (per serving), are around the same amount of calories and are full of live bacteria cultures (which promote a healthy digestive system).

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What about the other types like Swiss style or Australian style? Swiss style yogurt is a smooth, thin yogurt that is usually served with fruit on the bottom.  Australian style yogurt is a little harder to find in grocery stores but ever since I had it recently it has become my new favorite.

Australian style yogurt has a smooth texture like conventional yogurt with a more intense, pronounced flavor.  I also found out that it is cooked slower, which creates a natural texture without having to add gelatin or thickening ingredients.

Each yogurt provides individual benefits so I recommend switching it up every once in a while; that way you can still enjoy the subtleness of conventional yogurt while getting the additional benefits from other yogurt types.

Here are some of my favorite ways to have yogurt:

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6 oz. of Australian style yogurt, 1/2 c. of Kashi Go Lean Crunch Honey Almond Flax granola, 1/2 banana, handful of blueberries and raspberries

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Smoothies are a great way to enjoy Greek yogurt, especially if you are not fond of the particularly strong flavor and texture. I love making this smoothie after school.
Combine in a blender: 1/2 cup of orange juice (you can also use pineapple or mango), 1/2 cup of water (you can use milk as well), 1/3 cup of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (this will make it smooth and creamy), 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, 3-4 ice cubes, 1 cup of frozen fruit (whatever you have on hand will work, I usually have a bag of pineapple, a bag of mixed berries, and wild blueberries – any combination will taste great!)

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Frozen yogurt is probably one of my favorite desserts – I’m always up for it! If you love the soft serve texture of the frozen yogurt at a frozen yogurt shop you should try the store brand Elan. It’s great if you want to enjoy the same soft creamy yogurt at home. I usually top the vanilla one with chocolate chips or fruit. This one was great though with a left over gingersnap cookie.

Sources:
Hiatt, Angela Haupt; Kurtis. "Greek Yogurt Vs. Regular Yogurt: Which Is More Healthful?" US News. U.S.News & World Report, 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 06 Jan. 2013.
"What Are the Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt?" Healthmad RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2013.
"Benefits of Greek Yogurt." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2013.
“Vegetarian [Paperback].” Vegetarian: Nicola Graimes: 9780760749531: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. (92, 93)
“The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition) [Hardcover].” The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition): Sharon Tyler Herbst, Ron Herbst: 9780764162411: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. (471)
"Yogurt." Dairy Goodness RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2013.