Greek yogurt (Ελληνικό γιαούρτι)

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(Full disclosure: We do not provide the recipe to actually make Greek yogurt in this post, but stay tuned…it will be coming soon-ish) 😉

Some foods are so trendy it’s hard to escape them, and even harder to feel good about yourself if you do.  Imagine the horror of being the only person at a party that has never had chia seeds.  How awful to be the sole person in a crowd who has no idea what goji berries are.  And don’t you just LOVE bacon flavoured anything?  You don’t?! It doesn’t matter.  Just eat it so that you can fit in.

Another super trendy food that we have actually loved forever is Greek yogurt.  We were on that bandwagon long before Greek yogurt lined the refrigerated shelves of grocery stores everywhere.  We were ahead of the times!  Trendsetters!  Avant-garde foodies!  Or, as our children remind us, we were simply raised by Greek parents who made their own Greek yogurt because that was just what they did…and so, that is just what we ate. Whatever.

Greek yogurt is like xeno regular yogurt in many ways, but there are key differences which usually make Greek yogurt more nutritious, and we think, more delicious.  All yogurts start off pretty much the same way, by combining milk and bacterial cultures which then ferment in order to produce lovely lactic acid which does something fancy to the milk proteins, so that you end up with yogurt.  All yogurt has wonderful health benefits, including being very high in calcium, zinc, the B vitamins and probiotics.  Yogurt is also a great source of protein.  To then move on to Greek yogurt, this regular yogurt is typically strained extensively in order to remove the liquid whey.  What you end up with is a much thicker, tangier tasting yogurt which, because it is so concentrated, sometimes has more protein, more fat (sorry), less sodium and fewer carbohydrates.

You may have noticed that in our description of Greek yogurt above we used the terms usually, typically and sometimes.  That’s because Greek yogurt production is not very well regulated and so companies can add ingredients and alter the traditional Greek yogurt-making process and still market their product as Greek  yogurt.  One of the most common shortcuts is adding ingredients like gelatin or cornstarch to their yogurt in order to thicken it versus straining out the whey.  True Greek yogurt should have few ingredients, and the first few should be milk and live cultures.  That’s pretty much it.  Because some brands of Greek yogurt do not go through the straining process to get rid of the whey, but rather thicken their yogurt by introducing additives, the amount of protein found in these products may not be as high as you would expect for a “true” Greek yogurt.  We hope to make some yogurt with our parents in the near future and if we do we will definitely share their recipe and directions with you.   Until then, keep in mind that most yogurts are still a great snack or dessert option.  They are healthy, easy to eat, and easy to drop into a lunch box or purse on your way out the door.

Despite everything it has going for it, we some people sometimes find plain Greek yogurt a little boring.  To keep things interesting, we love to add delicious toppings to our yogurt.  If we’re smart about it, we not only increase the flavour profile (how do you like that fancy foodie term?), but we also increase the nutritional value.  Some of our favourite, and prettiest, combinations are pineapple and sunflower seeds, pomegranate and walnuts and granola with strawberries.  We always drizzle some Greek honey on top of the toppings.  Pretty and sweet!

If you want to experiment on your own, and we think you absolutely should, below are some other toppings that we find work really well.  If you are going to be taking this along to work or school, keep the yogurt and toppings separate until you are ready to eat them.  Some things get soggy and weird if mixed in too early.  Typically we like to combine a fruit or two with a nut, seed or cereal.  Once in a while, when we are feeling particularly dangerous, we even like to add something risqué, like chocolate chips.

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Possible toppings:

Fruit: 

Well, really any fruit will work, but some of our favourites include:

Pineapple, Pomegranate, Berries, Raisins, Chopped up dried figs, Chopped up dates, Dried cranberries, Diced apple

Seeds / cereal / nuts :

Again, anything you have on hand could work.  Some of our go-to choices include:

Walnuts, Slivered almonds, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Flaxseeds, Granola….and of course, chia seeds

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