Put a healthier twist on recipes with yogurt

Explore ways to use yogurt in place of other ingredients to lighten up your favorite recipes, while boosting the nutrition.

Many individuals love to cook and bake, but many baked goods have added fat and sugars that make it difficult to indulge and keep to a healthy eating plan. One tactic that can be used to reduce the amount of fat and calories that is added into baked goods or other recipes is by using yogurt instead of the fat in the recipe. Non-fat plain yogurt can often be substituted into recipes instead of butter, buttermilk, cream cheese or mayonnaise, and has the health benefits of fewer calories as well as added protein, calcium and other nutrients.

The following is a list of substitutions using non-fat plain Greek yogurt, along with an estimate of the calorie and fat gram differences by making the substitution. Keep in mind that this is an approximate substitution guide; brands and varieties of yogurt can vary in addition to bake ware and ovens, therefore it may take a couple of tries to get recipes to turn out the way you want them to.

  • 1 cup butter = 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup butter – saves 366 calories and 46g of fat
  • 1 cup oil = 3/4 cup yogurt – saves 1,829 calories and 224g of fat
  • 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup yogurt – saves 390 calories and 43g of fat
  • 1 cup mayonnaise = 1 cup yogurt – saves 786 calories and 78.5g of fat
  • 1 cup cream cheese = 1 cup yogurt – saves 670 calories and 80g of fat
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 2/3 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup milk or buttermilk – saves 13 calories and 2.5g of fat

Yogurt substitutions can go beyond just baking. Yogurt can be used as a topping on tacos or baked potatoes instead of sour cream. It has the tangy flavor of sour cream without the added fat and calories. It can also be used to make creamy salad dressings or dips like ranch, honey mustard, or onion chip dip. Use your creativity and experiment with different combinations and flavors to find what you and your family likes best. One place to get started is by looking for recipes on the websites of various yogurt brands, such as Dannon, Chobani and Yoplait. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to use a particular brand of yogurt just because a certain brand’s website recommends you use theirs – so look for sales or use coupons to find the best deal in the store. Looking for more ways to cook healthy? Contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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