The best and worst of yogurt

Posted 01/17/2014 | By HealthCorps

Yogurt is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  Filled with calcium and healthy probiotics, it is considered a nutrition powerhouse.  You do, however, need to be able to separate the dessert and treat yogurts, from the more simple and healthy versions.

  • Do look for “live and active cultures” on your yogurt label to signal the presence of the probiotics.
  • Make sure your yogurt contains at least 15-35% RDA of calcium.
  • Make sure there is no “added sugar” since yogurt already contains naturally occurring sugar in the form of lactose, from milk (about 9 grams in a 6 ounce regular yogurt, and about 7 grams in a 6 ounce Greek yogurt).
  • Make sure you see real fruit in the yogurt, not food coloring and other additives that give the illusion of fruit.
  • Do look for low fat or fat free yogurt, but make sure that other less healthy additives are not added to compensate for the lower fat.

One of the healthiest dips you can make is to combine plain low fat or fat free yogurt or Greek yogurt with fresh and/or dry seasonings.  Here’s a quick recipe that’s perfect with cut up vegetables or baked whole grain pita chips:

Savory yogurt dip

Ingredients:

¾ cup of Greek low fat yogurt

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh chives

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Blend well, chill and serve.

And if you’re looking for a delicious and healthy topping for yogurt, here’s a recipe for Orange, Bay, and Spice-brined Walnuts from the California Walnut Board. The recipe provides enough topping for 12 individual servings of yogurt, and brining the walnuts before roasting them, will infuse a subtle mix of orange, pepper and cinnamon flavors.

Ingredients:

2 cups water

3 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Strips of 1-inch by 3-inch peel from 2 medium oranges

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

4 bay leaves

1 cup ice cubes (about 6 ice cube tray cubes)

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

3 cups raw walnut halves (about 10 ounces)

Directions:

  1. Combine water, sugar, salt, orange peel, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt then remove from heat.
  2. Pour brine into a large bowl, add ice cubes, cinnamon, and nuts, cover, and set aside to soak at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 250°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Drain walnuts then spread walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until walnuts are dry, toasted, and slightly crunchy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Walnuts can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. (Walnuts can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored at room temperature.
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