The Tang of Health

Yogurt provides a tasty probiotic boost to any meal of the day.

By Lisa James

January 2009


As popular as it is today, there was a time when yogurt wasn’t found in nearly every American refrigerator; most people hadn’t even heard of it. Nowadays everybody knows what yogurt is, but most people are only familiar with the sugary flavored stuff.

That’s too bad. For one thing, the excess sugar blunts some of yogurt’s boosts to well-being, including better bowel health, stronger immunity and increased B vitamin absorption. These benefits come courtesy of the probiotic bacteria that turn milk into yogurt (soy yogurt is available if you don’t do dairy).

The overwhelming presence of sugared yogurts in the modern diet also means that most cooks are not sure how to employ the real deal in the kitchen, other than as a simple snack or breakfast item. Plain yogurt can supply a creamy, tangy touch in many recipes; just ask folks in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, who’ve been putting yogurt to delicious use for centuries.

Using yogurt the right way requires keeping a few simple rules in mind. First, fresh yogurt is always better than a half-full container that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week. Make sure the yogurt you buy—whole-milk, low-fat or fat-free is up to you—contains active cultures. If organic yogurt is available, so much the better.

To cook with yogurt, bring it to room temperature before gently folding or whisking it into hot liquids, and don’t let the mixture boil. This helps prevent yogurt from separating into solids and liquids. (You can combine a teaspoon of cornstarch with a third of a cup of yogurt and tablespoon of cold water to stabilize the yogurt.) In most recipes, such as the one shown below, yogurt is added at the end of the cooking time to avoid this problem.

In cold dishes, you can substitute yogurt for either mayonnaise or sour cream in equal measures. Or make your own yogurt cheese by placing it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth; put the strainer in a bowl and refrigerate for between eight and 24 hours, depending on the consistency you’re looking for.

Do you love yogurt? Then put it to work in your kitchen.

Curried Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 lb broccoli florets
1 lb cauliflower florets
5  cups vegetablebroth
1 1/2  tsp curry powder
2 cups low-fat plain yogurt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1.  In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté garlic and onions until translucent. Add broccoli and cauliflower, and 2 tbsp of the vegetable broth. Place lid on pot, reduce heat to medium and steam vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and rest of the broth; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Transfer broth and vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot over medium heat and gradually whisk in yogurt and remaining seasonings; to avoid curdling, do not allow to boil.

Serves 6. Analysis per serving: 130 calories, 9g protein, 4g fat, 6g fiber, 19g carbohydrate
Source: Stonyfield Farm (www.stonyfield.com)

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