Greek yogurt, made when some of the liquid whey is strained off during the yogurt creation process, has become very popular in recent years. This may be in part because of its nutritional punch. One six-ounce serving of this type of yogurt can have 20 grams of protein, which is the same as half a chicken breast and over twice the amount found in typical yogurt.
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Nutritional benefits aside, Greek yogurt also has a unique texture. This yogurt variety is creamier and thicker than other types of yogurt, making it useful for things inside and outside the kitchen.
When you’re considering Greek yogurts, pay attention to the ingredients list, since these yogurts are made in different ways and with various ingredients. Some Greek yogurts are thickened with gelatin or modified corn starches, and the flavored varieties usually have a lot of added sugar. Stick with an organic, plain Greek yogurt that has active cultures and milk listed as its first ingredients so you can reap the most health benefits from this creamy yogurt.
A true Greek yogurt, which has live and active cultures and is essentially strained, thickened milk, packs one powerful probiotic punch. The benefits of probiotics for your digestive health is already pretty well-known, with WebMD reporting that they help balance the bad and good bacteria in your body to keep it working the way it should.
New research, however, is examining just what benefits may come with the topical application of probiotics. While more research is needed, some early studies have shown that using specific strains of good bacteria on your skin may prevent aging signs, reduce redness and heal acne.
If you’re looking to take advantage of Greek yogurt’s benefits both inside and outside of the kitchen, there’s more way than one to get them. Check out the following ten creative ways to use Greek yogurt, and get more for your grocery buck!
1. Make A Cheese
You can make cheese out of Greek yogurt using a bowl, colander and cheesecloth. Put three or four layers of cheesecloth into a colander that is set over a big bowl. Place the Greek yogurt into the cheesecloth—you can add spices, herbs or salts for flavor if desired—and place the bowl in your refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you’ll end up with spreadable, soft cheese.
2. Condition Your Hair
The fat content in Greek yogurt makes for a great deep conditioner for your hair. Apply the yogurt to your hair directly, and cover with a shower cap. Let the yogurt sit in your hair for around 30 minutes. Once that time is up, wash your hair using your preferred method.
3. Moisturize Your Skin
As mentioned above, Greek yogurt’s fat content makes it great for using as a moisturizer. While you can buy moisturizing products with this yogurt already in them, you can also make your own right at home. To make a mask, combine plain Greek yogurt with a small amount of honey. Apply it to your face, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. After the time has passed, rinse off your face with warm water and a soft washcloth.
4. Ease Facial Acne
As reported in the Dermatology Times, when the type of probiotics found in Greek yogurt are applied topically, they may reduce the appearance of other skin conditions. Spread a thin layer of plain Greek yogurt on the affected areas of your face and leave on for 15 minutes before rinsing off. Some people have reported yogurt use for acne made their skin worse, so discontinue use if it appears to be irritating your acne more.
5. Replace Some Baking Butter
If you want to reduce the fat in your baked goods, try trading some butter for non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt. Not only does this drop down the fat content, but your baked goods will come out very tender and moist!
6. Ease That Sunburn
Granted, the research jury is still out when it comes to all the effects of probiotics applied to the skin, but many people use Greek yogurt as a balm for sunburned skin. Cosmopolitan Magazine recommends applying a thin layer of the yogurt to your sunburned areas and letting it sit for about ten minutes. After the ten minutes are up, gently dab the yogurt off with a cold washcloth.
7. Substitute For Mayo Or Sour Cream
You can use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream or mayo in just about any recipe. Use it in sour-cream dips and mayo-based salads to up your protein without losing flavor. You can also use Greek yogurt in place of the cream that’s called for in cream-based soups for a healthier alternative.
8. Create Some Tender Chicken
Greek yogurt can add flavor and tenderize meat when used as a marinade. Toss some chicken with cumin and Greek yogurt for a tangy marinade that won’t dry out the meat. This will keep your dish tender and moist while adding flavor and cutting fat. This marinade also works well with pieces of cubed chicken for souvlaki, since the meat pieces are smaller and allow the yogurt’s creaminess to penetrate the meat.
9. Make Natural Popsicles
Popsicles from the store often have artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors, but you can make natural frozen treats at home using Greek yogurt, lemon juice, frozen berries and honey. Use a food processor to process the berries of your choice with some Greek yogurt, and then add the honey and lemon juice, and puree until you have a smooth mixture. Divide your mixture into freezer pop molds, filling each mold up to about one inch from the top. Freeze your treats until they are firm, which usually takes around four hours. Dip the molds in hot water quickly after they are frozen to make removal much easier.
10. Create Your Own Whipped Cream
Traditional whipped cream is full of fillers and sugar. While the calorie count may not be that different between typical whipped cream and a Greek yogurt variation, the health benefits are because the yogurt is packed with calcium, probiotics and protein.
A quick, easy way to make your yogurt cream is by adding just a teaspoon of sugar to your favorite plain Greek yogurt and whipping the mixture in a blender. Since consistencies vary among Greek yogurts, your results may vary, too, so experiment until you find the combination that suits your personal taste.
To play it safe, add a half-cup of heavy cream to your yogurt mix while whipping to ensure fluffiness that’s comparable to traditional whipped cream. You can also add a drop of lemon, almond or vanilla extra to flavor your whipped yogurt cream before use.
Tap into all the benefits Greek yogurt has today by trying one or all of the creative uses covered above. Use your own imagination to find even more ways to work this yogurt and all it offers into your daily life!