Taking Yogurt to a Whole New Level

Any time is a good time to sit down with a simple bowl of yogurt, alone or together with fresh fruit or your favorite granola – but that only scratches the surface of what you can do with this versatile, high-protein ingredient. Here are a few additional ways to kick yogurt up a notch.

Better Grilling

Most marinades rely on an acidic ingredient such as wine, vinegar or citrus juice to tenderize meats and add flavor. The unfortunate reality is that they really only add flavor and have little to no tenderizing value. Dairy-based marinades are the exception to this rule. Like the buttermilk your grandmother used with her chicken, they actually do leave meats tenderized. Plain yogurt is especially good for this purpose because it's thick enough to cling to and coat your meats, holding your marinade seasonings close. The yogurt dries and caramelizes as you grill and helps give your chops or kabobs a richly flavored crust.

Lighter Dipping

When it comes to social snacking, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more appealing option than a tray of veggies or crackers with bold-flavored dips. These dips are usually based on sour cream or cream cheese, which are tasty but high in calories. Make your dips from a base of thick, Greek-style yogurt instead to preserve all the fun and flavor but cut back sharply on the calories. The end result is high in protein and low in fat, whether you use a packaged seasoning mixture to finish the dip or build your own with fresh herbs and spices.

Easy Homemade Cheese

Soft, fresh cheese is a remarkably versatile ingredient, showing up in everything from salads to stuffed pasta to rich pastries. One of the easiest to make without special equipment is yogurt cheese. Just line a colander with cheesecloth or a clean towel, pour in the yogurt, and let it drain overnight with a small weight on top to press out the whey. You can use it as-is as a soft cheese – perfect for spicing and spreading or using as a dip – or lightly salt it and shape it into balls that you can pack in herbed olive oil.

Lassi Comes Home

They know a bit about hot weather in India, and if you’re a fan of Indian cuisine you might have enjoyed a cold, refreshing glass of lassi at your favorite Indian restaurant. Unlike complex curries with dozens of ingredients, these are quick and easy to make at home. If you have a blender, you're all set. Process good-quality plain yogurt with your favorite fruit – mango is a classic choice – or any combination of spices and herbs that appeals to you. Add ice, water or milk to thin the mixture and process it until it's smooth. Some versions are savory, with salt and cumin instead of fruit, but they're all tasty.

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