Navigating Holiday Fare with Greek Yogurt

By Laura Schmidt RD, LD

With colder weather and seasonal indulges on the horizon, being careful not to sabotage yourself into a calorie coma can be a difficult task to navigate. Remember the old saying the “freshman fifteen?” Well, during this time of the year we may find ourselves referring more to the “holiday five!” Feel-good foods, more often than not, leave us feeling bloated and guilty. To keep a healthy regime this holiday season, try using Greek yogurt as an alternative in your holiday cooking and baking.

Greek yogurt has become an overwhelmingly popular snack for those trying to follow a healthy diet. But do you know what makes it better for you? Greek yogurt goes through a different straining process that actually takes three times the amount of milk used to make regular yogurt. The end result leaves us with two times the amount of protein than that found in regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great way to get a portion of your 3 cups of daily dairy that is recommended for adults by the USDA. Dairy is the primary source of calcium in the American diet and helps us to build strong bones and teeth, but also maintain bone mass throughout our lifespan. This creamy, thick treat can also be used to make healthy swaps in your kitchen!

When asked to bring an appetizer or dessert to your next holiday gathering, choose Greek yogurt and put a positive, healthy twist on it. Here are some helpful substitutions:

1 cup buttermilk = 2/3 cup Greek yogurt + cup buttermilk

1 cup butter = cup Greek yogurt + cup butter

1 cup of oil = cup Greek yogurt

1 cup of sour cream = 1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup mayonnaise = 1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup cream cheese = 1 cup Greek yogurt

Here are additional recipe ideas using Greek yogurt:

Cheesy Potato Casserole (see recipe below)

Layered Taco Dip

Dill or Ranch dips with cut up veggies

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Dip

Remember: Consuming 500 extra calories a day, can lead to one extra pound per week! With nine weeks between Halloween and New Year’s, don’t let the holidays sabotage all your hard work and efforts of the rest of the year!

To help get you started, try this delicious favorite, Cheesy Potato Casserole.

Cheesy Potato Casserole

Serves 10 (about 3/4 cup)

All you need:

Hy-Vee canola oil cooking spray

2 pounds red potatoes, diced

1 cup Hy-Vee low-fat milk

2 tbsp cornstarch

8 oz Hy-Vee sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 tsp plus a pinch of salt, divided

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 cups crushed unsweetened corn flakes

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch (or similar-size) baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Return to the pot.

3. Meanwhile, whisk milk and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often until bubbling and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes total. Remove from the heat and stir in Cheddar, yogurt, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper until combined. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and mix well. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

4. Sprinkle the casserole with corn flakes. Using short bursts, coat the corn flakes with cooking spray; sprinkle with the remaining pinch of salt. Bake until browned and bubbling at the edges, about 1 hour. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3; cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Let the casserole stand at room temperature while preheating the oven. Proceed with Step 4.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 233 calories, 8g fat, 5g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 396mg sodium, 30g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 5g sugars, 11g protein.

Daily values: 19% vitamin C, 22% calcium, 25% iron.

Source: EatingWell, Inc.

The information is not intended as medical advice.

Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Laura Schmidt is a registered dietitian representing Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the com

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