Greek yogurt is a nutritional superstar. It has less sugar and nearly twice as much protein as regular yogurt, and the added bonus of a creamier texture.
"It's more like the thickness of mayo or cream cheese," says Michelle Dudash, a registered dietitian and author of "Clean Eating for Busy Families."
Everything we love about it comes from the unique straining process used to separate the whey and lactose from the rest of the mixture, making it perfect for cooking and baking.
"It has less liquid so it doesn't separate," says Dudash.
And the thickness and tangy flavor make it the perfect swap for fattening dairy products in these 15 recipes.
TAKE THE DEVIL OUT OF YOUR EGGS
What makes deviled eggs so sinister? Mayo. Use Greek yogurt instead for the same flavor without the guilt. "You're going to get the extra protein, calcium and save on calories, fat, and saturated fat," says Allison Enke, a dietitian for Whole Foods Market.
MIX A CHEESECAKE
Typical recipes can use a pound or more of cream cheese, but you can replace all or part of it with yogurt. Oikos' recipe uses half cream cheese and half vanilla Greek yogurt.
GET CREAMINESS WITHOUT THE FAT
Cream-based sauces are a flat-belly foe. Get the creaminess you crave - and pack your pasta with belly-filling protein - by nixing the cheese and cream and stirring in Greek yogurt instead.
To avoid curdling, add the yogurt after you remove the entire dish from the stove, says Dudash.
MARINATE CHICKEN AND FISH
Marinate meat and seafood with seasoning and Greek yogurt instead of oil. You'll cut fat, add tons of flavor, and keep your dish moist and tender.
DRESS WAFFLES AND PANCAKES
Put a refreshing twist on a breakfast staple by topping waffles and pancakes with a few dollops of yogurt instead of syrup. It adds protein in addition to cutting calories and sugar.
LIGHTEN SIDE DISHES
Whip up moist mashed potatoes by swapping in nonfat yogurt for a portion of the butter in your favorite recipes.
TOP TACOS AND CHILI
The next time you reach for the sour cream, opt for Greek yogurt instead. Use it to dress your tacos and chili for the same tangy taste and save 15 calories per tablespoon.
ADD PROTEIN TO SMOOTHIES
Triple the amount of protein in one smoothie by using Greek yogurt instead of milk.
SLIM YOUR FAVORITE DRESSING
Nix the mayo the next time you whip up a tub of ranch dressing. Not only will you cut hundreds of calories, but you'll boost the protein and eliminate the fat if you swap in nonfat plain Greek yogurt.
MIX A SOUP
Add creamy texture to soups by topping it with yogurt or swirling in a few tablespoons after you remove the mixture from heat.
SLIM SUMMER SALADS
Substituting Greek yogurt for a portion of the mayo in recipes for potato, tuna, and macaroni salads is an easy way to cut calories. Just mix it in with your favorite seasonings and spices.
MAKE GUACAMOLE NUTRIENT-RICH
Turn your guac into super-guac by mixing in a few spoons of calcium- and protein-rich Greek yogurt.
Chobani suggests using Greek yogurt to replace the butter in icing and cut the calorie content. Try this recipe.
Put 2 cups yogurt in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl, cover and let drain, refrigerated, for at least two hours and preferably overnight. This step is crucial; otherwise the yogurt won't be thick enough to make proper frosting.
Using an electric hand mixer, whip the yogurt with 2 teaspoons vanilla and a cup of powdered sugar on medium speed until the mixture is thick, about two minutes. Then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Spread on cooled cake or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes from a quart-size Ziploc bag with one corner snipped off. Serve immediately.
The recipe makes enough frosting for a dozen cupcakes.