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New Year's Resolution: Go Skinny Dipping!

Delicious Yogurt Substitutions Pack in the Nutrients without Packing on the Pounds

(December 1, 2004) Yogurt has found a permanent place as the healthy breakfast and snack time staple. But there are many uses for this versatile and tangy dairy darling as an ingredient, especially when trying to reduce the fat and caloric content of many dips, dressings and baked goods. In fact, it's easy to substitute yogurt for ingredients like mayonnaise and vegetable oil and still maintain a delicious flavor profile.

Yogurt has a long list of nutritional benefits too:

  • Yogurt is high in nutrient density meaning that it provides a lot of essential nutrients but doesn't provide a lot of calories.
  • An excellent source of calcium, one cup of yogurt provides roughly the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk and two ounces of cheese. The calcium in yogurt and other dairy products is considered to be one of the most readily absorbed.
  • Heard of "good bacteria" or "pro-biotic" in reference to yogurt? This means that yogurt contains a variety of active cultures (the type and amount will vary depending on the variety of yogurt) which have been shown to aid in digestion and maintain optimal gastrointestinal health.
  • Lactose intolerant? Many yogurts contain lower amounts of lactose than milk, enabling everyone to enjoy the nutritional benefits of dairy.
  • Yogurt is an excellent source of high-quality protein and provides essential B vitamins such as riboflavin and vitamin B12.
  • Breaking news! Potassium is all the rage in the nutrition community given the recent daily intake increase by the Institute of Medicine. Yogurt is a significant source of potassium, providing 490 mg in an 8-ounce serving. Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, fluid balance, muscle contraction, and the transmission of nerve impulses.

"Using low-fat yogurt as an ingredient substitution is an easy way to reduce the calories and fat content in your diet," says Katherine Beals, PhD, RD, FACSM, nutrition consultant to the California Milk Advisory Board. "Yogurt is extremely nutrient dense, providing several key nutrients like protein, calcium, potassium and B vitamins for a minimal number of calories."

The California Milk Advisory Board recommends making "10 New Year's Substitutions" with yogurt in a variety of appetizer, main, side and dessert dishes:

  1. Use yogurt in horseradish sauce for a lean beef or vegetable accompaniment.
  2. Season yogurt with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic for a delicious sandwich spread.
  3. Mix yogurt with hard-boiled egg yolks, mustard and paprika for divine deviled eggs.
  4. Replace some of the fat in baked goods with yogurt.
  5. Try mixing yogurt, lemon juice and garlic for a creamy alternative to a traditional Caesar salad dressing.
  6. Potato, macaroni and pasta salads will benefit with yogurt as the base for zesty dressings.
  7. Make a mock hollandaise sauce, substituting yogurt for mayonnaise.
  8. Season yogurt with Dijon mustard and chives, and serve alongside crab cakes.
  9. Add curry and onions to yogurt, then stir in tuna, grapes and raisins for a light lunchtime treat.
  10. Homemade hummus is best with pureed garbanzo beans, yogurt, garlic and cumin.

Need further inspiration? Try these yogurt skinny dipping ideas to look good this year in your birthday suit or your bathing suit.