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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Eating healthy on a budget -- Make your own "Greek" yogurt -- This is the food I eat!

I've been drinking a lot of protein drinks lately. I will for the rest of my life. But, I have to find a way to actually enjoy them since one is a meal replacement (Breakfast) and one is my final snack of the day about 3 hours before bedtime.
Plain non-fat yogurt strained to thicken it
I have priced plain non-fat Greek yogurt. For the amount I use, it's expensive. I go through at least two to three 32-ounce containers in a week. At almost $4 to $5 a pop, that's a lot of money, especially in a week where I end up using 4 or 5 containers. I remembered a trick from years ago that I think it was my mother or my grandmother taught me. Strain plain yogurt, it will thicken it up.

Many will say Greek yogurt has twice the protein as regular yogurt. That's great for some people who have issues getting protein. Me? Post WLS I get minimum 60g just from my protein drinks each day, so getting protein isn't an issue. Eating healthy on a budget? That's an issue.

Do NOT buy any plain yogurt with anything like modified food, potato or tapioca starch. It's garbage, all fillers. Check out the store brands at your local supermarket. You should be able to find them for under $2 per 32-ounce container, definitely under $3 per container. There should be nothing but non-fat or fat-free milk and cultures. NO MODIFIED STARCH of any kind!

Since I am not willing to pay for fillers, and because my husband and I are both diabetically-challenged, I have had to find a way to make my own thickened plain yogurt to use for tzatziki and as sour cream and mayonnaise in place of higher calorie, higher carb items.

I buy a 32-ounce container of plain yogurt. Just plain yogurt, Dannon is my favorite and usually costs less than $3 for a 32-ounce container. I also like the Wegmans and Tops brands...local supermarkets here in Western NY.

Using a fine mesh strainer or a colander, I layer four to five sheets of paper towels (if they're cheap -- I but the 50¢ a roll kind) or one cheese cloth folded over to create four layers. I spoon the plain yogurt over the paper towels in the strainer, then take another four to five sheets of paper towels folded over and place them on top of the yogurt in the strainer. Put the strainer containing the yogurt over bowl or plate to catch the liquid. Put the whole thing in fridge for at least one hour, may need up to 4 hours.
Tzatziki made with plain, fat-free strained yogurt
I use the strained plain yogurt in tzatziki -- a delicious yogurt and cucumber dip made with lemon juice, garlic powder and dill. I also use the strained plain yogurt as a sour cream substitute or as a mayonnaise substitute when making salad dressings, macaroni salad, tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad, etc.

Macaroni salad made with half Miracle Whip half strained plain yogurt

I also use the strained plain yogurt in my morning protein drinks. It gives them a bit of thickness and a nice tang. I especially like the smoothies with vanilla protein powder and some type of berries.

The Berries are Hiding protein smoothie made with strained plain yogurt

These are just some of the things you can use the strained plain, fat-free yogurt for. I'm sure you can find lots of ways to use it in place of Greek yogurt!

As always...Cheers!
Rachael Monaco

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