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By now, most of the world knows that yogurt is not only one of the healthiest foods for the digestive system, but it’s delicious too. Clever cooks around the globe have experimented with the best ways to use yogurt when preparing snacks and meals. Cooking with yogurt requires just a little know-how and a few tips. For example, stirring yogurt too enthusiastically as it’s blended into sauces or dressings causes it to lose body and thin out, and it will separate if it’s heated too fast.
Yogurt is essentially dairy or goat milk that has been cultured by the addition of beneficial bacteria. When eaten regularly, these bacteria help establish and maintain a healthy flora in the intestinal tract. It’s lower in fat and calories than sour cream and can be used as a base for salad dressing, veggie dips, sandwich fillings, and more. Cooking with yogurt when making creamy sauces cuts back on calories.
The wise cook knows that best way to avoid separation when cooking with yogurt as an ingredient in a hot food involves two steps. First, letting the yogurt sit outside of the refrigerator for a while will minimize the shock when it meets the heat. Second, it's wise to introduce a spoon or two of the hot liquid to the yogurt a little at a time before fully combining all ingredients.
Yogurt-based foods should never be allowed to boil. Not only will that cause them to separate in a visually unappetizing way, but it can destroy the bacteria. Cooks with aluminum saucepans will want to invest in stainless steel or another type if they like the idea of cooking with yogurt. Heating yogurt in an aluminum pot can create taste and health problems.
Yogurt cheese is easy to make by draining away the whey to allow the remaining yogurt to thicken. It retains yogurt’s characteristic zip but mimics the texture of cream cheese. Many cooks make it by allowing yogurt to drain in a sieve that has been lined in cheesecloth. It makes great tuna or salmon salad spread and is wonderful on crackers with capers or caviar.
Incorporating yogurt into baked goods enhances the texture and moistness. Smart cooks can cut the amount of butter a recipe calls for in half by adding yogurt. Not only does cooking with yogurt result in better-tasting baked goods, but they’re healthier and lower in fat.
Yogurt fruit smoothies make a terrific breakfast treat, and adding some honey or caramel as well as chocolate creates a sweet dessert. Yogurt that has been sweetened with bananas, peaches, or other fruit as well as some stevia or sugar and then frozen turns out a dessert Popsicle that any kid will beg for. Cooks can easily make a mouth-watering yogurt cream by mixing cooked, unflavored gelatin with strawberry, lemon, or lime-flavored yogurt and refrigerating.
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