Yogurt is a cold, creamy treat that’s delicious anytime of the day. It’s a fermented food made by heating milk, combining it with a culture of bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and letting it sit at a warm temperature for several hours. As the cultures grow, the milk thickens leaving a tangy, smooth texture that so many enjoy.
Yogurt offers many health benefits, particularly yogurt that contains live, active bacteria known as probiotics. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that help maintain a healthy digestive system. Yogurt is a rich source of calcium, which aids in building strong bones and teeth. It also provides protein, which is supplied in even greater amounts in Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained, thereby doubling the protein content, and producing a thicker texture. Yet it has less lactose than traditional yogurt so those that are more sensitive to lactose may tolerate it better. On the other hand, sweetened yogurt can be very high in added sugars. Be sure to compare labels to get the lowest amount of added sugars or buy plain yogurt and sweeten with fruits or sugar substitutes.
Use plain yogurt for making dips and sauces, such as Tzatziki sauce, as a substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise in salads or as a marinade to coat fish or chicken. Blend yogurt in smoothies or drizzle it over waffles. There are so many ways to use yogurt!
Lemon-Yogurt Chicken with Rice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup brown rice, regular or instant
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a large bowl, combine juice, garlic, oregano, zest, and pepper. Slowly whisk in oil and yogurt until combined. Add chicken to yogurt marinade and turn chicken to coat. Cook immediately or marinate in refrigerator for up to 8 hours. Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-low heat. Lightly shake chicken to remove excess marinade. Add chicken to skillet, and cook 10 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cooking time until chicken reaches at least 165°F as measured by a food thermometer. Cook rice according to package directions. Add lemon zest into cooked rice. Serve chicken over rice.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 360 calories, 10 grams fat, 85 milligrams sodium, 37 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 30 grams protein
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Tiard Schulz on Unsplash
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.