Popular ways to substitute yogurt

Jun 1, 2012 at 4:14 a.m. ET

Greek yogurt's reputation as a healthy snack and recipe component is growing. Thick, creamy and packed with protein, it is a delicious substitution in most dishes.

bowl of yogurt on yellow placemat

What makes yogurt such a great substitute?

Greek yogurts are high in protein. Compared to the typical plain yogurt that has approximately five grams of protein per serving, Greek yogurt typically has double that (or more!), helping to keep you fuller for longer while supporting lean muscle development.

Of course, cooking with yogurt can help boost the calcium quotient in almost any dish. It also typically has less sugar and carbohydrates than many of the items it subs for and in most cases, it still provides the good bacteria, or probiotics, that help your digestion tract.

Since Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, it is a perfect addition to many savory side dishes and dips -- and the acidity in yogurt lends itself to cooking and baking alike.

Say cheese

Yogurt cheese is a delicious substitution for cream cheese. You can use it as a spread and can use it to make dips, frosting, cakes and even whipped cream. It's also super easy to make. Try this at home by following these simple steps:

  • Place two cups of low-fat, plain yogurt in a colander lined with two layers of cheesecloth.
  • Place the colander over a large bowl to catch the liquid that drips out of the yogurt.
  • Cover and set the colander (still set in the bowl) in the refrigerator and let stand overnight.
  • Discard the liquid in the bowl and serve.

Top off your meal

Greek yogurt is the perfect sour cream stand-in when it comes to topping off baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, tacos and any other dish that is incomplete without a dollop or two of this creamy condiment. Combine your yogurt with a drop or two of lemon juice and use it just as you would use sour cream with your meal. You can also experiment with seasonings, adding a little garlic, paprika, cumin, chives or chili powder to the topping.

Make a sweet treat

Yogurt is an extremely popular substitution in desserts. It is a great stand-in for fats and creams, so it is often used to lighten up brownies, cakes, breads and cookies. Yogurt can also turn your favorite homemade milkshake into a smoothie. Replacing the ice cream with yogurt turns a diet splurge into a diet staple -- and it's easy to do! Just replace the ice cream cup-for-cup with yogurt that has been frozen in an ice cube tray. Add milk along with your favorite flavors like fresh berries, bananas, peanut butter, chocolate or just a little vanilla. Insert straw and enjoy.

Watch: How to make banana-berry yogurt pops

How To Make Banana-Berry Yogurt Pops

Make these cold treats for when your kids come in from playing in the hot sun this summer. They\'re healthy, and your kids are sure to love them!

Great Greek yogurt recipes

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Couscous with Greek yogurt curry