If you aren’t eating yogurt on a daily basis, you might be shortchanging your health. There’s no easier way to get some healthy bacteria in your system than to enjoy some rich, delicious, full-fat yogurt loaded of active cultures.
If your gut is damaged, a daily dose of yogurt can actually repair the damage. Not only that, but a good quality yogurt can:
- Help to prevent gastrointestinal infections
- Help your body fight off food poisoning or stomach viruses
- Boost your immune system
- Prevent osteoporosis
- Reduce acid reflux
Often, people who suffer from lactose intolerance are absolutely fine with consuming yogurt, because the live cultures break down the difficult-to-digest lactose.
Not just any yogurt will do
Don’t just run to the store and grab those little 6 packs of yogurt and feel nutritionally saintly, however. Despite the health claims, the flavored conventional yogurts are the absolute opposite of health food.
First of all, if your yogurt is not from an organic source, in North America, it most likely contains the hormones rBGH and rBST, which are given to nearly all dairy cattle in the US to increase milk production.
If that isn’t enough to turn your stomach, lots of commercial yogurts contain neurotoxic artificial sweeteners like aspartame (which is how they get the sweet taste and still remain low in calories). They often contain artificial colors and flavors, and the ones without artificial sweeteners are generally laden with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) which has most likely come from genetically modified corn.
If you’re purchasing your yogurt, opt for the full-fat variety for the maximum dose of delicious nutrients.
The best option of all is homemade yogurt, which is surprisingly easy to make. When you make it yourself, you control the type of milk used (we make ours from raw milk) and can flavor it as desired with fresh fruit, honey, real vanilla, herbs, or organic sugar.
Making your own is so easy, I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t do it. Here are two simple ways to make your own yogurt at home. You can even get a little yogurt making device for less than $30. If you want more homemade dairy product instructions, check out this wonderful book on the topic.
Eight delicious ways to enjoy yogurt
Savory or sweet, there’s a yogurt idea out there for everyone!
- Yogurt cheese: Line a mesh strainer with a coffee filter. Place this on top of a bowl. Place your yogurt on top of the filter. Put this in the fridge (or other cool storage place) and allow it to drain overnight. You’ll be left with a rich thick substance. You can eat this as “Greek yogurt” or as a substitute for cream cheese, spreading it on bread and bagels. (You can get thorough instructions and recipes HERE.)
- Yogurt dip: Use a thicker yogurt and season it any way you would generally season sour cream to make a dip for veggies. We especially like it with a little garlic powder, salt and loads of finely chopped dill. (You can use dried dill from your spice cabinet if fresh is unavailable.)
- Yogurt “sour cream”: Thick yogurt can be used in place of sour cream. Instead of merely adding fat with few nutrients, you can add a big pile of creamy vitamins to the top of your baked potato. You can also use yogurt in place of sour cream in recipes like stroganoff or curry.
- Yogurt salad dressing: You can make “ranch” dressing with the addition of some onion powder, garlic powder, dill weed, salt and pepper.
- Yogurt smoothies: Mix yogurt with frozen fruit and zip it in the blender for a tasty and nutritious shake. Some people like to add sugar or honey to this, and depending on your nutritional needs, you can also add a scoop of a healthy (not artificially sweetened) protein powder. This is a great use for a batch of homemade yogurt that turned out runny.
- Yogurt parfaits: Mix a drop of vanilla extract and a touch or organic sugar to plain yogurt. (You can stir in some vanilla protein powder for something rich and pudding-like.) Then top it with fruit and crunchy granola. Delicious and satisfying.
- In baking: Yogurt can be used as an egg-substitute when baking. You can use 1/4 cup of yogurt in place of each egg that the recipe calls for.
- Yogurt “ice cream”: Use a ratio of 1:1 yogurt and frozen fruit. Sweeten according to taste. Puree in the blender, then place in the freezer for an hour. If your resulting creation is too hard to eat with a spoon, pop in back in the blender for about 30 seconds.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy yogurt?
Share your tastiest tips in the comments!