Yogurt Gets a Makeover (Plus How to Make Greek Yogurt)

Yogurt has been around for centuries and has loads of nutritional benefits, but recently, lots of new yogurt varieties and yogurt-based products have been hitting the shelves. Try some of these healthy, creamy, and delicious options for a summer snack.

Greek-style yogurt is a great choice because it can be lower in calories and fat than regular yogurt, coming in at about 130 calories per cup if you choose a nonfat variety, but it's much richer and creamier than classic yogurt. That's because Greek-style yogurt is strained to remove liquid whey left over from the fermenting process; traditional yogurt stays unstrained and is less creamy as a result.

How to Make Greek-style Yogurt at Home:

You can create your own Greek-style yogurt at home just using regular plain yogurt and some cheesecloth. Simply place the yogurt on top of the cheesecloth in a bowl, bring the corners of the cheesecloth together to create a pouch, and squeeze the liquid from the yogurt until no more will come out. Leave the pouch in the refrigerator overnight, preferably in a strainer or colander placed over a bowl, and squeeze out any remaining liquid in the morning. Unwrap the cheesecloth and spoon out your now-thickened, creamy yogurt!

What is Kefir?

Kefir is another cultured milk product similar to yogurt. It's a fermented beverage with roots in Eastern Europe that is made using kefir "grains", which are actually a mass of yeast and bacteria that looks a lot like cauliflower. The grains are fermented in milk for about 24 hours until they produce a thick liquid that is rich in digestion-aiding probiotics, up to four times more so than regular yogurt, and contains far less lactose, so even those who are lactose-intolerant can often enjoy kefir. Nowadays, you can find kefir in a variety of flavors like strawberry and raspberry, but stick with plain if you want to avoid added calories from sugar.

Frozen kefir is a new healthy dessert that you can enjoy this summer. Made by Lifeway, a brand that also produces traditional liquid kefir, this dessert is creamy and tangy but still delivers all the probiotic benefits of its non-frozen counterpart. It's a healthier choice ice cream and is safer for those with a sensitive digestive system. Lifeway's frozen kefir comes in three bright, yummy flavors: plain, mango, and strawberry.

Try a Dairy Tonic!

Looking for a refreshing summer cool-down beverage? Try White Cow Farm's new Dairy Tonic, a zesty and flavorful drink made from blended yogurt whey and yogurt solids produced at a small, family-owned diary in Western New York. It comes in five unique flavors, including turmeric and lemonade, and is sweetened with natural maple syrup. Find it at Murray's Cheese in NYC.

If you want to make your own yogurt-based treat, you can always try this easy homemade frozen yogurt recipe, which uses plain Greek yogurt to make a dessert that will cost way less than a cup of yogurt from your average fro-yo shop.

Have you made your own Greek yogurt or kefir?

Photo: imallergic on flickr