So “Rich,” But Non-Fat

September 27, 2011 in Blog Recipes, Cooking & Baking Hints, Diabetic Menu Item, Mediterranean, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

I was putting on a breakfast for 40 ladies about a week ago. I was whisking by the tables on my way back to the kitchen, I overheard a comment that surprised this dietitian/nutritionist. I really don’t know who said, “This is SO rich!” But frankly I was really amazed, even a bit stunned. Most people mean “contains lots of fat” when they use the term “rich.” Some may mean, in addition, a lot of sweet sugar.  But this desert was not “rich” by any definition (including high cost). At first, I quickly reviewed my menu in my mind  (100% whole wheat crepes; made with non-fat milk, eggs, a single tablespoon of butter for a batch, and no oil on the non-stick pan; fresh sliced peaches filled the crepes; topped with a third cup of thick creamy non-fat Greek Yogurt, flavored with a touch of cinnamon, vanilla and honey). “What could that person possibly have been talking about?” I came up with only one possible answer: “It must be that thick, wonderfully creamy texture of protein-packed non-fat Greek yogurt!” People unfamiliar with its nutritional contents might mistake the creamy ‘richness’ with fatty richness. I’ve written on many occasions for more than two years about the benefits of including Greek yogurt in menus, and based upon the volume of Greek yogurt that is ‘evaporating’ from Costco’s shelves, I thought that everyone knew the magic in the Greek yogurt container. But I guess that there are a few out there, who are still not aware of the differences in yogurt.

My observation of the Greek yogurt ‘evaporating’ off the shelves is not scientific; but Elaine Watson who writes for Food Navigator, has written that General Mills expects to see a sharp acceleration in Greek yogurt sales this year. This, of course, is not based upon a consumer’s observation; General Mills’ Yoplait Greek-style yogurts jumped by 50% in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 (July-Sept 2011). That prediction is based upon knowing exactly what’s leaving their manufacturing plant. General Mills is all set up for an increase in production. Ian Friendly, the U.S. retail boss of General Mills’ Yoplait Greek-style yogurts is quoted as having said, “In fact, sales of Greek-style yogurt have doubled over the last 12 months and today make up roughly one quarter of category sales.” Friendly continued by citing the Nielsen data, saying that sales of most other yogurts were flat or in decline over the same period with the exception of kids’ yogurts, which showed modest growth.

Let me just point out 12 reasons why I would suggest that you try non-fat Greek yogurt, especially if you use a natural, zero calorie sweetener with it.

  1. First, its texture is not ‘watery’ like traditional yogurt; much of the liquid is drained off. It gives the mouth feel and texture of an extremely creamy full-fat version of yogurt.
  2. It can be used in place of sour cream for a big calorie savings, especially if you choose the non-fat versions.
  3. It’s a terrific source of protein, without the fat that so many sources of animal protein products have. Again, this is if you’re choosing the fat free versions. One cup of Greek yogurt is equivalent to about the same amount of protein as found in 2 or 3 ounces of lean meat. During the past few years, a growing number of consumers have either adopted a meat-free diet, becoming strict vegans, vegetarians, or flexitarians. In addition, a growing number of consumers are reducing their meat intake for environmental concerns or health issues. Greek yogurt offers a really easy way to add a significant amount of protein to the diets of those consuming less meat.
  4. People with lactose intolerance can often tolerate Greek yogurt; it appears that many of the cultures that are used in making Greek yogurt digest the lactose. This is a big bonus, if you happen to be lactose-intolerant. There are variations in the live cultures used by the various producers of Greek yogurt, so you’ll have to do some experimenting to find those that will work for you.
  5. Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium, if you’re not into drinking fresh milk – Greek yogurt is a great option to be kind to your bones.
  6. Greek yogurt is a food to include if you’re trying to maintain a healthy blood pressure. It’s high in calcium and potassium, which are both involved in helping to lower blood pressure. And it’s low in sodium; actually about half the sodium of liquid milk of the same volume (cup Greek yogurt/cup milk).
  7. And as I’ve written about before in The Good Belly Bugs; don’t forget that we can benefit from the healthy bacteria naturally present Greek yogurt. It is an excellent food source of probiotics – the good bugs.
  8. Un-sweetened and un-flavored Greek yogurt is not as tart/sour as traditional American yogurt. What that means is that less sweetener is needed.
  9. Some ways of using Greek Yogurt are: smoothies; dips; dressing instead of mayonnaise or sour cream; spreads; perfect for potato salad dressing; a nice low calorie snack, sprinkled with a little granola.
  10. Non-fat Greek yogurt offers you and your children many opportunities for creativity. If you want to find many creative ways to use Greek yogurt, you may want to visit Fage’s website recipe section.
  11. Regarding regular ‘kids yogurts’ increasing, my advice is this: Buy the plain Greek yogurt and put your own fruit or nuts; make it into a dip and serve with a variety of fruit or vegetable dippers. Kids can benefit from the high protein Greek yogurt, just like adults. And the huge benefit of mixing it yourself (which is so very easy) is that the food processors, can’t load it up with food colorings and a huge mound of sugar.
  12. Replace ice cream with the frozen dessert below and save up to 300 calories, a load of fat, and a pack of ingredients that you can live without.

Idea for frozen dessert


1 pound of frozen fruit: strawberries, bananas, peaches, or apricots

Note: don’t defrost the fruit

1 ½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla (I like almond extract in peaches.)

½ cup sugar or honey


Put the frozen fruit into a food processor and pulse until the fruit is chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add more sweetener if needed. If too soft to serve immediately, put into the freezer for about 30 minutes. If you’ve made the no-added sugar version using Dr. Grandma’s Delight, this can be a frequent menu item, because it has no empty calories. It is a nourishing and appealing dessert or snack. Top with toasted chopped nuts, if desired.

My ladies’ breakfast was a hit; it went from good to great when I announced that the rich topping was nothing more than non-fat Greek yogurt. Hope they knew how healthy it was for them – maybe they did and maybe they didn’t. What they did know was that it was non-fat and it tasted incredible. Many asked for the recipes. Good Health Can Be Yummy!