Toby Amidor is a registered dietitian that loves her Greek yogurt so much that she dedicated an entire book of recipes to this Mediterranean wonder. Her new cookbook, The Greek Yogurt Kitchen, is out today. We asked Toby for a few minutes of her time to tell us about the book and to share a few recipes.
Q: Why a cookbook focusing on one specific ingredient?
Over the past 10 years, Greek yogurt has been taking the market by storm. But many folks don’t realize that Greek yogurt can be used for much for than a snack or grab-and-go breakfast. From a lighter hollandaise sauce to a flavorful marinade to a fat substitute in baking, the versatility of this ingredient goes well beyond the scope of the imagination. I wanted to showcase this versatility in a wide array of recipes – that are not only delicious, but also good for you.
Q. What are some of the health benefits of Greek yogurt? Do any diminish as a result of cooking / baking?
Greek yogurt has been touted for many health benefits including digestive health (due to the probiotics), heart health, weight control, and bone health. Studies have also found that it can help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. Since Greek yogurt is a low lactose food (it contains 4 grams of lactose per 6 ounces as opposed to milk with 12 grams per cup), it is a lactose-intolerant friendly food as well.
Cooking (over high heat) and baking will kill the probiotics found in Greek yogurt since they are live. However, there are still benefits to using Greek yogurt in baking. It can be used as a fat substitute for butter or oil, helping to cut calories and fat. In order to get the full digestive benefits, however, you would need to enjoy Greek yogurt that’s not baked or cooked to a high temperature.
Q. How is the book divided between sweet and savory recipes?
Greek yogurt works perfectly in both sweet and savory dishes. It is really remarkable! In my new book The Greek Yogurt Kitchen I chose a wide variety of both sweet and savory recipes in order to show this. Many breakfast and desserts tend to be sweet. I have recipes for Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Banana-Strawberry Crepes with Dark Chocolate Drizzle and Fig and Walnut Parfait. I also have many savory dishes you may not have thought Greek yogurt would “go” with such as Mango Guacamole, Spanikopita and Greek-Style Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes, and Feta.
Q. Is there a specific yogurt brand that works better for your recipes? Which is your favorite brand?
There are so many delicious Greek yogurt brands available, I could never choose just one! Through my testing I did find that a nice thick, creamy Greek yogurt does work best in order to help maintain the luscious mouth feel of this delicious ingredient.
Q. Do you recommend the 0% fat yogurt or is some fat required for better results?
I use both nonfat and low fat Greek yogurt in my cookbook. I do find that if I want to thicken a soup or need a little extra fat, low fat Greek yogurt is a good choice. For most of my recipes, however, I found using nonfat Greek yogurt was a perfect choice and the end result was a delicious, healthy dish.
Q. How much Greek Yogurt did you go through in developing these recipes?
I went through many, many large tubs of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. It was also fun experimenting and taste testing the new flavors that are now available at the market.
Q. How can we get kids to eat more plain yogurt?
Kids may not enjoy the tartness of plain Greek yogurt, so flavor needs to be added. The flavors or toppers you choose, should provide value and nutrition to a child’s diet. A little sugar can also help cut the tartness – but be careful how much you add. In my book The Greek Yogurt Kitchen I have 10 healthy snack suggestions for fewer than 250 calories. One such snack suggestion is called “Peanut Butter and Jelly” where you stir 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of regular flavored jam into ¾ cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt. The kids get a fun snack for only 223 calories and 8 grams of healthy fat.
Whole-Grain Banana–Chocolate Chip Pancakes (SERVES
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 cup nonfat milk
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 medium bananas
- Cooking spray
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola oil, and milk.
- Add the yogurt and whisk to combine.
- Add the dry mixture to the yogurt mixture.
- Stir to combine, taking care not to overmix.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Cut the bananas into ¼-inch-thick rounds.
- Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat it over medium heat.
- For each pancake, drop a heaping ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet, and sprinkle 2 or 3 banana slices on top.
- Repeat, leaving about 2 inches between pancakes.
- Cook until the tops are bubbly and the edges are set, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip the pancakes over and cook for another 2 minutes, until golden and crisp.
- Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Repeat with the remaining batter and bananas.
- To serve, place 2 pancakes on each of eight plates and drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over each stack.
SERVING SIZE: 2 pancakes plus 1 tablespoon syrup
NUTRITION INFORMATION (PER SERVING): Calories: 359; Total Fat: 10 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 9 grams; Total Carbohydrates: 58 grams; Sugars: 28 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; Cholesterol: 3 milligrams; Sodium: 315 milligrams
Salad Parfait (SERVES 4)
- ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 2 Kirby or Persian cucumbers
- ¼ head romaine lettuce
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 medium carrots
- Put the yogurt in a medium bowl, add the basil and parsley, and stir to combine.
- Set aside.
- Mince the garlic.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard powder, salt, and black pepper.
- While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified.
- Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into ¼-inch dice; you should have about 1 cup of each.
- Shred the romaine.
- Cut the yellow bell pepper in half, discard the seeds, and cut into ¼-inch dice.
- Peel and grate the carrots.
- To assemble the parfaits, layer the bottom of each of four parfait glasses with ¼ cup diced tomatoes, followed by ¼ cup diced cucumbers and ½ cup shredded lettuce.
- Gently press down with the back of a spoon to pack the ingredients.
- Top with 2 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture, ¼ cup of the diced yellow pepper, and then ¼ cup of the shredded carrots.
- Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
SERVING SIZE: 1 parfait
NUTRITION INFORMATION (PER SERVING): Calories: 168; Total Fat: 14 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 4 grams; Total Carbohydrates: 9 grams; Sugars: 4 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 166 milligrams