Recipes that use Greek yogurt as the secret ingredient

It wasn't that long ago (roughly 2009) that Greek yogurt barreled onto the American food scene, upending the yogurt market with its thicker, tangier, protein-packed existence, increasing Greek yogurt sales by 2,500 percent between 2005 and 2011. As a result (certainly helped by the creation of Pinterest in 2010), it quickly became incorporated into recipe roundups, healthy substitution charts, and almost every professional woman's lunchbox as the masses swarmed to the somewhat more filling snack food featuring higher levels of protein than the standard yogurt fare.

But Greek yogurt is good for more than a quick midday snack or a morning breakfast parfait. The thick, tangy flavor makes it an excellent substitute for sour cream, oil, and butter, and it makes a great base for dips and dressings. You don't have to take my word for it, though. Check out these recipes that just wouldn't be as killer without a solid dollop of Greek yogurt.

Creamy spinach shakshuka

When I think of foods that Greek yogurt pairs nicely with, eggs don't usually come to mind. And yet, this kosher, creamy spinach shashuka recipe from Joy of Kosher uses Greek yogurt as an instrumental component of its rich base, turning what's typically considered breakfast fare into a recipe that's great for dinner. Aside from eggs and Greek yogurt, all you'll need to whip up a pan is frozen spinach, olive oil, goat cheese, basil, and pantry staples like salt and pepper. You can cook it in just 15 minutes, then serve with pitas or crusty bread.

Smoked salmon cucumber bites

Cooking for a crowd can feel overwhelming, especially if you're trying to break away from standard appetizers like chips and salsa. Luckily, this smoked salmon cucumber bites recipe from Wholesome Yum only takes a few minutes to prepare and clocks in at just 54 calories per serving, while still delivering 8 grams of protein. Even though the recipe is super simple — just five ingredients and no cooking required — it wouldn't be the same without the tangy, cool flavor of the Greek yogurt to help balance out the saltiness of the smoked salmon. You can whip up a batch just before your guests arrive, or make a healthy change to your lunch routine with these salmon cucumber bites.

Broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli cheddar soup isn't usually the first healthy recommendation touted by registered dietitians, what with a typical restaurant serving clocking in around 23 grams of fat, 14 of them saturated. And yet, that's exactly what nutrition expert Tori Schmitt is suggesting with her broccoli cheddar soup recipe featuring Greek yogurt in place of half-and-half and heavy cream. She says the Greek yogurt adds protein and delivers "ultra-creamy" texture. Yum! Bonus: the recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make, especially if you happen to have a high-powered blender that can heat food as it blends. All you need to whip up a batch is frozen broccoli, Greek yogurt, chicken broth, cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Seriously, it couldn't be easier.

Strawberry and banana overnight oats

If you haven't yet ventured into the world of overnight oats, you're missing out. Overnight oats recipes give you a way to enjoy oatmeal cold after the oats soak overnight in a mix of milk, Greek yogurt, and various toppings. The result is the easiest make-ahead breakfast you'll ever try – just grab one of your pre-prepped mason jars out of the fridge in the morning to take with you. This recipe from Sunday Meal Prepper offers a healthy dose of fiber (16 grams per 1 1/4 cup oats, the amount used in each 8-ounce serving) and protein, at 8 grams for an 8-ounce serving. Prep ahead in 8-ounce Mason jars on Sunday night and you'll have a grab-and-go breakfast ready every single morning.

Orange yogurt pound cake

It's not just savory foods that benefit from a tangy punch of Greek yogurt. If you're a fan of baking, you can switch out ingredients like sour cream, heavy cream, and butter for Greek yogurt. Aaron Hutcherson, the man behind this delicious recipe for orange yogurt pound cake says replacing the sour cream with Greek yogurt doesn't affect the taste of the cake. Granted, it's still pound cake, so it's not like Greek yogurt automatically turns baked goods into health foods, but little changes here and there certainly can't hurt!

Greek yogurt pesto sauce

Who doesn't love a creamy pasta dish? This recipe for Greek yogurt pesto sauce from Joy of Kosher is the perfect way to add comfort food to your menu without overdoing the fat content. By using fat-free Greek yogurt, you end up with a rich but protein-packed sauce you can feel good about. Plus, it's super easy to make, especially if you opt to combine the Greek yogurt with a store-bought pesto sauce.

Truffle lobster Greek yogurt mac and cheese

The next time you want to impress your friends with a fancy, down-home dinner, look no further than this fancy-pants-sounding (but actually easy to prepare) recipe for truffle lobster Greek yogurt mac and cheese from Kylie at Imma Eat That. Looking to make real food delicious (and healthy)? this recipe uses Greek yogurt to add extra creaminess, while providing a good source of added protein. And believe it or not, you can cook it up in less than 30 minutes — I pinkie swear!

Easy Greek yogurt biscuits

Guys, listen up! These biscuits are baller, if I do say so myself. The recipe is my own and I swear by it when I'm craving carbs in the morning. The Greek yogurt gives the biscuits an almost sourdough-like quality that pairs perfectly with a serious drizzle of honey and a piping hot cup of coffee. For real, make these biscuits. They're the best.

Greek yogurt deviled eggs

Mayonnaise, while delicious, doesn't have a lot going for it nutritionally. Certainly there's nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional mayonnaise-infused deviled egg, but why not switch out the mayo for Greek yogurt for an appetizer that's packed with even more protein? This recipe from Tone & Tighten swears you won't even notice the mayo is missing, and if you make a batch ahead of time, they work really well as a post-workout snack. Just pair an egg or two with pita chips, veggie sticks, or a handful of granola, and you'll be fueled up and ready to enjoy the rest of your day.

Enchiladas with cream sauce

Trade your Taco Tuesday for enchiladas everyday with this healthified version of classic chicken enchiladas. The meat of the recipe (both literally and figuratively) uses shredded chicken, green chilies, white beans, and cream cheese, mixing the ingredients together before wrapping them in corn tortillas. It's a good start by itself, but any Mexican food aficionado knows that enchilada magic happens when you add the sauce. In this case, the sauce includes the tantalizing meld of sauteed onions, Greek yogurt, green enchilada sauce, cheese, and spices. The result is a creamier, more flavorful alternative to traditional sauce, taking these from basic fare to serious crowd-pleasing status.

Greek yogurt coleslaw

Coleslaw is another one of those classic barbecue side dishes that's attained a sort of "diet beware" status due to its high levels of saturated fat — mayo strikes again. But coleslaw is veggies. Almost entirely veggies! Which is why switching out traditional mayo for protein- and calcium-packed Greek yogurt is an excellent way to enjoy your slaw completely guilt-free. Plus it's incredibly easy to make when you buy the pre-shredded cabbage and carrots. All you have to do is combine the cabbage, carrots, and sliced green onions with the Greek yogurt sauce prescribed on Gimme Some Oven, and you'll have a delicious side dish ready to go in about five minutes flat.

Crunchy breaded salmon

You probably already know that you should include at least two servings of fatty fish, like salmon, into your weekly meal plan. Salmon's an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein. That said, salmon's a bit like chicken: preparing it the same old way week after week is straight up boring. Rather than opting for the standard baked salmon with a drizzle of lemon juice and pepper, try this fun crunchy breaded salmon recipe from Club Narwhal. All you do is slather the salmon fillets with Greek yogurt, top the yogurt with Panko breadcrumbs (the yogurt makes the breadcrumbs stick), season as desired, and bake for about 12 minutes. The recipe couldn't be easier, and it's hard to make a dish as healthy as this one.

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