What is greek yogurt, the ultimate guide

Ultimate guide to greek yogurt

If you’re like me who was stuck in the food dark ages and ready to try something new and exiting, or you just want to know more about greek yogurt, then let’s step into the light together and answer the burning question: What is greek yogurt? This creamy, rich, fluffy goodness that is this protein packed treat is everything you need for those late night snacks you’re sneaking when your husband is sawing logs and your kids are finally passed out.

I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about greek yogurt, and I’m pretty confident in saying that despite my lack of Greek god good looks (he-llo, John Stamos), I’m pretty knowledgeable in this. 

What is the difference between greek yogurt and regular yogurt?

Greek yogurt is splattered all over your television commercials, and there’s a reason for this. Even if you’re like me and you balk at the latest trends, you’re just going to have to ignore the patronizing commercials and try it for yourself.

So what makes greek yogurt greek? To begin with, the protein. Yes, the US has a slightly unhealthy obsession with how much protein we’re getting in our diets, but if you truly do need something brimming with protein, it’s best to opt for greek style yogurt. Each serving has between 15 and 20 grams of protein. This is almost double what regular yogurt has. Difference number one: regular yogurt is a protein weenie.

The consistency is the second biggest difference. Greek yogurt is strained three times which is what makes greek yogurt different from regular yogurt texture wise. The triple straining process makes greek style yogurt much thicker and creamier. You know how regular yogurt kind of has that almost watery consistency sometimes? Greek yogurt is like the Blizzard of yogurts. You could almost hold your cup upside down and have it stay put because it’s so thick (but don’t do this unless your kids are home to clean up the mess for you). Want to make some real greek yogurt yourself? This is how greek yogurt is made.

What is greek yogurt, and where does it come from?

Let’s go back in time and dive into the history of GY together. Greek style yogurt was traditionally made with ewe’s milk, although nowadays it’s made with cow’s milk. It’s been around for hundreds of years in Greece, but it’s also popular in other countries, as well. In Greece it’s used for the base of tzatziki dip and as a sweeter dip with fruits and honey served on top. Turkish people use it in their favorite dips, especially haydari. Middle Eastern countries call it “labneh” and it’s dried and formed into balls and stored in olive oil. Interestingly, yogurt is a side dish in all Iranian meals or used as dips with things like fresh herbs, shallots, garlic, etc. In the United States, it’s eaten as traditional yogurt, often sweetened. It’s also used in place of sour cream for people on a healthier diet and taking the place of some ingredients in baked goods! 

Benefits of Greek Yogurt

Yeah, yeah, sometimes all that’s enough is that it tastes really freaking good. But we’re all on this journey to try new things and maybe like some healthy things while we’re at it. So, the magical benefits of greek yogurtProbiotics: As women, this is a really good thing. Probiotics (or the “live active cultures” the labels yammer on about) balance our gut’s good bacteria. We all know that if the good bacteria in our body goes out of balance, we get an ensuing yeast infection. Greek yogurt has 40% less sugar and 38% less sodium than most traditional yogurt. Less sugar/sodium=less poochy tummy. Besides that the balanced amounts of calcium and other nutrients in greek yogurt are great for warding off osteoporosis.

Myths about Greek Yogurt

All brands are teeming with protein: Not true. If your main reason for eating it is for the protein, make sure you check the label. Some brands have significantly less protein than others. It’s all made the same way: Nope. That unique thickness can come from triple straining or it can come from the addition of thickening agents. It’s all vegetarian: Nope again. Some brands add gelatin for texture or carmine (from the bodies of crushed beetles) to give it color. Moral of the story: check the label if you’re an ovo-lacto vegetarian. It’s all healthy: Unfortunately not. Flavored yogurts are notorious for being loaded with sugar. Check the ingredients; sugar should be towards the end of the list.

What to Look For In Your Yogurt

This all depends on what your diet goals are, but here are a few guidelines: Try to avoid thickening agents. They’re not necessarily unhealthy, but the fewer chemicals we keep out of our bodies, the better, right? Look for live active cultures. The probiotics are a big reason to even consume yogurt, so do yourself a favor and get some useful yogurt, ok?

What Brands to Buy

You’re probably sitting there with your tummy rumbling while you gnash your teeth wondering what brands you can even eat because of the sneaky add-ins the companies like to throw in there. Here are my recommendations based on research: 

Fage 0% Fat: It’s truly fat free and the fruit topping’s first ingredient is fruit, not sugar.
Alpine Revive: This brand has 2/3 less sugar than most flavored brands and still tastes good. 

Nonfat vs Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

The differences between the two are pretty simple. Of course, one has lower amounts of fat than the other. The other main difference is nonfat greek yogurt has more protein than full fat. That’s it! Pretty straightforward!

Cooking with Greek Yogurt 

I mentioned it above, but cooking with greek yogurt can be pretty tasty. Just a few of the things you can throw some ol’ GY in:

Pancakes: the yogurt will make your pancakes more moist and with a pleasant and surprising tartness to them.
Cheesecake: add that traditional bite to cheesecake with lower fat and a healthy dose of protein.
Smoothies: replace that watery traditional yogurt with some greek and you’ll have a super thick and filling smoothie.
Sauces/dips: You can replace the sour cream in most dip or sauce recipes with greek yogurt. You’ll be swapping out fat for protein without sacrificing taste.
Frozen greek yogurt: Freeze your yogurt for a low-fat treat.
Homemade greek yogurt: If you’re feeling adventurous, know exactly what’s in your yogurt by making it at home. The process can be slight time consuming but totally worth it.

I hope this guide has given you more of an understanding to what greek yogurt is. So, what do you think of greek yogurt? Or do you maybe have a question? Leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible! 

…now, what are you waiting for? Run to the store and get your self a nice and creamy a GY, you will not regret it!

What is greek yogurt, the ultimate guide was last modified on January 4th, 2016 by Elizabeth Wallace of Greek yogurt paradise
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Elizabeth Wallace

Hey there, I’m Elizabeth! It’s so nice to meet you. A bit about me: I’m a big fan of eating healthy, and I love greek yogurt! This blog is where I share my recipes, thoughts and much more. Have fun!

  • cyberstreets

    This is great guide, thank you. I can’t break down lactose but can non-fat yogurt. Great to know that Greek yogurt has less lactose than plain yogurt. I’m getting some Fage 0% (and add my own fruit).

    One question, I love frozen yogurt but putting plain yogurt in the freezer results in hard-as-a-rock fro yo. What do I add to it to stop this? I’ll try greek yogurt to see if it freezes less hard. :-)