We Try It: Greek Yogurt

So, I’ve been into plain yogurt for quite some time. A good friend of mine pretty much steered me in this direction when he returned from a foreign country several years ago and told me he couldn’t eat flavored yogurt anymore. After more than a year of plain-yogurt consumption, he found that the food-colored, artificially flavored kind so popular in the US tasted terrible to him.

It’s kind of funny, if you think about it. For the most part Americans are accustomed to yogurt being served in small single-serving packages, cartoonishly dyed to represent its flavor, with any fruity bits already suspended throughout. (The kind of yogurt with fruit on the bottom that I remember from my youth has seemingly fallen out of favor.)  Plain yogurt is hard to come by. It’s usually in prohibitively large containers, and not all brands even bother making it. The thing is, though, plain yogurt is yogurt in its original form.

I think it’s an example of the eternal processed-food conundrum. Some of us may strive to reject chemicals, additives, and preservatives in our food, but we’re often a little grossed out by foods in their natural state. For example, some people don’t like plain yogurt because it’s runny and needs to be stirred. Also, it tastes like yogurt. People who hate plain yogurt are basically saying they like yogurt, but only when its texture, color, and flavor are completely changed.

Well, if you’ve wanted to take some baby steps into the plain yogurt world, look no further than Fage. This is just one brand of Greek style yogurt, but it’s one of the most prominent and readily available. I switched over to Fage recently after languishing in runny plain yogurt-land, and I haven’t looked back. Please note that it can be kind of pricey.  I usually wait for it to go on sale at my grocery store, which it does about once a month. What makes Greek style different than what you’re used to is that it is strained. The excess water is removed, which leaves you with a nice creamy yogurt.

I still dress it up with fruit or honey once in a while (and the brand actually makes fruity flavors, with the fruit preserves in a separate compartment), but it hardly needs it. The thick, substantial texture goes a long way towards helping you forget that you’re eating plain yogurt. You don’t quite have to chew it, but it just feels really substantial when you’re eating it. It’s also helped keep me full longer when I’ve eaten it for breakfast than ordinary plain yogurt.

I’m happy to report that it stands up well when you cook with it. I made some homemade macaroni and cheese last week, and mixed in a little Fage yogurt to add something extra to the texture and flavor, and it tasted amazing. And while I’ve yet to try it out myself, but I’ve read that strained plain yogurt can serve as a healthier alternative to sour cream.  I’m sure it would also be excellent in dips and sauces.

If you don’t love plain yogurt, but want to give it a fighting chance, Fage or any of its fellow Greek yogurts might be the way to go.

Photo: getty

31 thoughts on “We Try It: Greek Yogurt”

  1. For those with digestion/stomach problems, or are coming off antibiotics, greek yoghurt is a life saver. Check the label and pick one that has a more than one straing of live culture pro-biotics (acidophilus is the most common, but there are more). It’s the easiest and most natural ways to restore balance. It also always makes me feel better when my stomach is queasy or acidic, much better than milk.

    Heath food stores sell all these really expensive probiotic liquids and formulas and pills, but greek yoghurt is much cheaper and without all the sugar. As mentioned, you can always add your own amount of honey or fruit if you don’t like it plain.

  2. Yogurt is actually not that hard to make, and you don’t need a “yogurt maker” to do it, either. (They just make it easier to keep the temperature stabilized during the yogurtization; but I’ve used glass jars inside a styrofoam cooler full of water, and it’s worked just as well.) I haven’t done it in a few years, but it’s really fun and much cheaper than buying yogurt. Just google “homemade yogurt” or some variation thereof. There are blogs and blogs and blogs about how to do it, and you really don’t need anything too special or complicated. The first time you open one of your jars and find yogurt where milk was before, it’s like a kind of magic. And then to get it to be Greek style, you just strain it through a cloth or some paper towels, easy peasy.

    Now I want to make yogurt again!

  3. For various reasons I was loyal to one brand for a long time, but once those reasons ceased to exist I became a full convert to Chobani’s 0% fruit yogurts because they are so filling but still sweet and fruity. And we use the plain on braised lentils and this crazy pasta, zucchini and ground turkey dish because it makes it creamy without adding lots of fat–just extra protein.

    Of the US/brands dominant in the US Greek versions, I have to say Dannon is better than Yoplait and Stonyfield tastes…off to me. The latter is too sour for me. As they say, though, YMMV.

  4. I saw a recipe once to strain Greek yogurt in cheese cloth for a few days and it essentially becomes a soft cheese like cream cheese. Once its strained you can roll it in balls and store it in a jar with olive oil and herbs.

    I’ve been wanting to try it. If anybody wants to be the guinea pig for this though go for it :)

  5. This is practically a PSA!

    Speaking as someone who loves artificially flavoured yoghurt I love plain greek yoghurt! It’s also great as a replacement for whipped cream/ ice cream with dessert. Chocolate cake with greek yoghurt is a personal favourite.

    Try it, people of the world, you will not regret it.

  6. Even harder to find than plain yogurt is full-fat plain yogurt. Most tubs are fat-free or low-fat. Ugh!

    I use yogurt as a substitute for sour cream all the time in baked goods.

    I’ve never tried store-bought Greek yogurt, but I have strained the excess liquid out of (full-fat!) plain yogurt at home. Buy some cheesecloth, line a strainer or colander with it, place yogurt in it, put this whole thing over a bowl to catch the liquid, place in fridge, and enjoy the next day.

  7. Canadian ladies, I can’t seem to find Greek yogurt at my local Sobeys. Beyond the general processed stuff, they only appear to carry the thick Liberte dessert yogurts that are mainly saturated fat and sugar- delicious once in a while but definitely a treat. I see Chobani and Siggi’s all over American health + fitness blogs but can’t find anything comparable in the GTA :(

  8. Excellent source of protein! Twice as much as normal yogurt. I am really lazy about buying and cooking and eating meat, so this is my go-to. Chobani makes a fruit-on-the-bottom, fat free type in a bunch of different flavors. Absolutely more pricey than other yogurts, but super tasty and a packed lunch staple, and the price evens out for me because I’m not paying for meat products.

    1. @LutherNipperkin Chobani is really good, and one supermarket I know sells four of them for $5. I don’t eat it as much anymore, but I liked the plain flavors, and would eat it for breakfast, and it was full of protein and was very filling. It was delicious, and felt healthier than Dannon or stuff that tasted too watery and in tiny containers.

  9. I am a yogurt hater (and a former vegan, so most dairy products make me a little gaggy), I think in no small part to its reputation as the quintessential “lady food.” I do like Greek yogurt, particularly the Chobani brand. (It does come with fruit, but it’s not overly sweet.) However, I only know of one store in my immediate area that sells it, and I can’t justify the price when it’s not on sale. I’m on a food budget, and at almost $2 a serving, it’s too pricey.

  10. I’ll attest to the deliciousness of yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. I’ll put a dollop of plain or Greek yogurt on top of chili, on burritos, or on potatoes and I think it’s completely wonderful. I never eat sour cream any more because yogurt is such a great replacement.

  11. Fage (Fa- jeh) is so good! But I have to recommend that people get the 2% fat ones. Do not get the nonfat greek yogurt. The fat makes it easier to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins and it adds to the flavor. Traditional nonfat yogurt only tastes good (to most people) because it has so many sweetener-type things in it. The fat adds flavor! It also keeps you satisfied longer which is really what you want if you’re trying to watch your weight. (and omg, so much protein!)

    And if you look at the amount of sugar added to a 4 or 6 oz serving of traditional flavored yogurt, you’d swear you were looking at a dessert. (Some are even flavored after desserts!)

    Fage is just the best.

  12. I am a recent convert to Greek Yogurt, as well. Excessive probiotics actually make me sick, so I stopped eating “regular” yogurt, since they’re all probiotic-crazy.

    The Greek yogurt, though, seems to have an okay amount to not make my stomach hate me. Personally, I go for Oikos. They have a caramel-on-the-bottom individually-packaged kind that is simply amazing (and pretty reasonably priced, I think). I do enjoy plain yogurt, but… caramel. C’mon. It just makes things better.

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