A few months ago, I was the emcee of a heart health expo. At one point in the program, I was asked to speak about some of the tips I incorporate in the kitchen, specifically, how I make my recipes healthier without sacrificing taste. The tip that drew the most interest, questions, and requests for recipes centered around the use of Greek yogurt as a substitute for ingredients like mayonnaise, sour cream, and oil in both baking and general cooking.
One of my favorite ways to eat Greek yogurt is so simple–as a dip for apples. I love a sweet Fuji apple dipped in plain yogurt. The thick, slightly tart yogurt is a delicious contrast to the crisp, sweet apple and makes a speedy, protein-packed lunch. I also use quite a bit in my refrigerator oatmeal cups, and my growing boys have taken a liking to Greek yogurt as well. My older son never cared for it much until I suggested he try plain yogurt drizzled with real maple syrup and a light sprinkle of granola. The minute he tasted this combination, he was sold. And I was thrilled to have an easy, healthy snack for him to eat when he returns, starving, from swim practice at 9:00 at night! But I digress….
If you have followed my blog for some time, you probably noticed that I use Greek yogurt in smoothies and salad dressings, muffins and desserts. Yet, I also introduce yogurt into recipes such as Parmesan crusted salmon and make-ahead mashed potatoes. So, when I received a case of yogurt from Chobani the other day, I was delighted and had absolutely no concern that the six quarts would come anywhere close to reaching their expiration date! That very night, I was prepping a family-favorite salad using leftover corn. I decided to make a variation of my usual recipe using a healthier homemade ranch dressing–using, of course, Greek yogurt!–and a few extra ingredients that would add depth and heartiness to the meal.
The following ranch dressing recipe is good illustration of a useful tip: When using mayonnaise, I have found that substituting up to half of the mayo with Greek yogurt tastes great while simultaneously reducing fat and calories and increasing protein and calcium. There are many more creative ways to use this super food, and I would love to hear if you have a tip of your own.
For Corn and Cucumber Salad with Basil and Chives, the quick and easy salad that inspired the following recipe, click here. And feel free to use the yogurt trick!
- 3 cups cooked corn, cut from cob (about 5 medium ears)
- 1 1/2 cups cucumber, peeled and seeded (about 1 large cucumber)
- 1 avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 cup halved or quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/3 cup basil, chopped
- 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons Chobani 2% plain yogurt (0% works well, too)
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons minced chives
- Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together, and refrigerate until ready to use. Dressing will keep for a week or more, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Place the corn in a mixing bowl.
- Chop the cucumber into pieces that are roughly the same size as the corn kernels, and add to bowl.
- Stir in the avocado, tomatoes, and basil.
- Drizzle with about 1/4 cup of the ranch dressing, and toss gently to incorporate. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. I usually add between 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, depending on exactly how much salad I have made.
- Add more dressing, if desired, or serve with additional dressing on the side.
- If you prefer a thicker dressing--great as a dip with fresh veggies--use approximately 1/4 cup of buttermilk and/or add an extra tablespoon each of yogurt and mayonnaise.
- If you think you will have leftovers, you may wish to add the avocado to individual portions and not mix in with the whole salad. The avocado tends to brown over time as it is stored in the refrigerator.