Monday, November 21, 2011

Learn to love Greek Yogurt

One of my top three or so go-to breakfasts is Greek yogurt.  Love it.  Quick, easy, taste, and a hefty dose of protein to start the day. Now, I didn't always like Greek yogurt. I don't think that anyone is born just liking the tangier flavor of Greek yogurt. If you've never had it, go taste it, and you'll understand why.  However, I switched from regular to Greek yogurt after learning of its nutritional superiority (in my humble opinion). With less whey, lactose, and sugar, it's much thicker than the milky traditional yogurt we all grew up with. In the end, you get about twice the protein and half the sugar for the same amount of calories.  As a vegetarian, Greek yogurt is one of my most trusted sources of protein; I can get 15 grams in just a tiny 6-ounce container!  Plus, the thick consistency makes it feel richer, almost like dessert.


Now, remember, Greek yogurt might take some getting used to, but once you start, you'll get hooked.  Although I now adore it and can eat it straight out of the container, some fun flavorings can help you acquire a taste for it.  Often, I still dress up my yogurt to suit my tastebuds, and it comes out like a decadent treat.  Below, you'll see what I like to make, but, as always, feel free to choose flavors and toppings that appeal to you.

Read more to see how I prepare my morning yogurt.

I typically buy either Chobani or Fage, without preference, even though they do have slightly different tastes.  In an effort to switch to organic dairy, I've started sometimes buying Stonyfield's Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt,  but we'll see how that goes. The individual 6-ounce containers are great for on-the-go, but if you've got even two minutes, you can make a delicious treat.  Ready?  Let's do it.

There are my ingredients for my ultimate post-workout yogurt treat.  This morning I did a tough strength-training class at the gym, so I'm ready to replenish my muscles with protein.  Mmmm here we go.

Ingredients that I use; experiment with your own!

- Greek yogurt, plain, 0% (fat-free).  Avoid any with flavors or fruit in the container--these likely have more sugar.
- Fruit!  I always put blueberries in my yogurt daily because they add a nice crunch, but if you've got other berries (strawberries, blackberries) you'd like to try, or maybe some banana slices, mango slices...
- Cinnamon.  This, for me, is what made Greek yogurt tolerable in the beginning. I love cinnamon and in my opinion, it makes a welcome addition to aaanything.  Be generous with the cinnamon.
- Cocoa powder.  Sometimes (when I remember; this box is hidden in my baking cabinet), I put just a teaspoon in my yogurt, only if it's in the morning, pre- or post-workout.  Get the nutritional kick.  Warning: this only tastes good when it's mixed in. I am a chocolate girl and nearly had a coughing fit when I tried sneaking in a taste of it plain. Don't make the same mistake I did.
- Granola.  This is also a crunchifying option; I only use it from time to time, especially because my favorite granola isn't the plain less-sugar stuff, but rather is "Granola and the Three Berries" from Trader Joe's.  (What does Trader Joe's make that I don't like?)  Further, exercise portion control with any granola, because it tends to be somewhat high in calories.  Stick to a third to a half of a cup, depending on how hungry you are, if this is a meal or a snack, etc.
- Flaxseed!  I forgot it this morning (oops!) so it's not in the photo, but from time to time I like to throw a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed in for some added soluble and insoluble fiber (3 grams per Tbsp!), omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins (folate, B-6, magnesium, and even potassium!).  Yep, get flax in for that fiber boost... Ooh, I could do a whole post on fiber.  Hm?  What's that?  Oh, you dare me?  Well, then, I guess I'll have to.

Mix it up

First, scoop some yogurt into a small bowl.  Six to eight ounces will do.  Then pour in the cinnamon, cocoa, blueberries, granola, flaxseed, and.... stir.  Done. Wasn't that quick and easy? Almost no time or effort for such a nutritional breakfast (hm, or dessert!).  When I'm really craving something sweet, I'll even stir in some apple butter.  Yum. Goes so well with the cinnamon!

The last step?  Sit back, relax, and enjoy.  Plain Greek yogurt may taste a bit too tart at first, but dress it up, give it a chance, and learn to love it.  I did it, so can you.  I dare you. 

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