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Doing more with: plain yogurt

I’ve always kept a tub of low-fat plain yogurt around, mainly for eating with fruit and granola for breakfast and for making smoothies.

I don’t like my yogurt to sit around for too long, though, lest I forget about it until it’s past its prime. So I’m always looking for other ways to use it in my kitchen. It’s a pretty versatile ingredient. Here’s a partial list:

  • Tzatziki sauce – This works better with the thicker Greek yogurt, but you can strain regular yogurt in a sieve or with cheesecloth overnight to make it thicker. Here‘s a recipe for making it with non-Greek-style yogurt.
  • Stand-in – I have used yogurt as a stand-in for milk, oil or butter in baked goods, either because I was out of one of the three or because I wanted to lower the fat content in the finished product (I wouldn’t use it in cookies, though, they’ll tend to come out a little gummy – it works better in breads, muffins and baked egg dishes). Try it as a sub for half the oil in this recipe for morning-glory muffins, one of my favorites. You can also use yogurt as a stand-in for sour cream or mayonnaise when mixing dips and topping dishes.
  • Use it as a marinade for meats (most recipes will call for whole-milk yogurt, which is going to be richer, but the low-fat version will work, too). One recipe to try – this Chicken Tikka Masala from the Pioneer Woman’s blog. A less-involved suggestion: just add lemon juice, garlic and curry powder to the yogurt and use as a marinade for chicken breasts.
  • Make cheese – Strain yogurt overnight in a fine sieve or cheesecloth and you will have a spreadable cheese that can stand in for cream cheese. Take a look at the sides of your emptying yogurt container — that stuff that collects there is yogurt cheese.
  • Skincare – used as a face mask, plain yogurt (no sugars or fruits) can have a calming effect on skin. It’s as simple as leaving it on your face for 15 minutes or so, but you can also combine it with other pantry items if you’d like. Here is one recipe using cucumber and honey.

What are your favorite uses for plain yogurt in the kitchen?

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