It’s Greek to Me!

More and more I’m discovering that many people have bought into the myth that being healthy means being on a diet, when in reality it’s a lifestyle change. And another very common misconception is that when you have a healthy eating style you all of a sudden go from fried foods and fattening desserts to being a vegan in 24 hours.

While yes, eating healthy does mean less fried and fattening foods, it’s not an immediate 180 degree transformation, it’s a LIFEstyle change that slowly becomes a habit. And this lifestyle is obtained by slowly making easy changes in your everyday life until its no longer a chore.

Yogurt is a really good snack that is pretty well liked by most people. But there is a way to make this yummy snack even healthier!! What people don’t realize is that many yogurts are sweetened with the same sugar substitute used in diet drinks – aspartame – which is still under studies, but as far as many dietitians are concerned, this does more harm than real sugar. Your body doesn’t know how to process some of these sugar substitutes because they’re man made!  But rest assured there is a way to still get a calcium filled snack!

Greek yogurt is a wonderful way to still get all the calcium and nutrients of yogurt, but without the potentially harmful aspartame! It actually has about half as much sugar content, in addition to doubling the protein of regular yogurts!  You can even use Greek yogurt in many recipes as a fat substitute!

Greek yogurt is made without sugar substitutes and in my opinion is more filling than traditional yogurt. So when you’re going down the yogurt aisle, go for the Greek!!

I have started using Greek yogurt in many of my recipes as a substitute for heavy cream and for sour cream.  It works really well and holds up to applications where heat is applied (soups and baking).  It is a perfect tangy, creamy substitute for sour cream in twice baked potatoes and even in tacos and enchiladas.  Check out one of my past recipes “Greeky Tilapia” for a use for Greek yogurt in a sauce.  It is a light and healthy recipe perfect for the summer heat.  

“Greeky” Tilapia

2 Tilapia Filets

2T butter (unslated)

3 cloves fresh garlic

Juice of 2 Lemons

½ Cup sliced kalamata olives with brine

½ Can quartered artichoke hearts (non-marinated)

¼ Cup white wine

2 Cups fresh spinach

4 oz Greek yogurt (plain), plus some for garnish

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

  1.  In an ovenproof skillet over medium heat, start melting the butter.
  2. Peel and Smash the garlic cloves and add them to the butter.  Once the butter starts to turn sizzle and the garlic is turning golden, turn the skillet off and add the fish filets, the lemon juice, the olives and juice and the white wine
  3. Place the whole skillet under the broiler until the fish is cooked through 6-10 minutes depending on how thick the filets are and how your broiler gets
  4. With a spatula, remove the fish to another plate and tent with foil.
  5. Place the skillet back on a medium burner for about 6 minutes until the liquid in the pan starts to reduce.  Add the Greek yogurt, whisking it into the sauce until it is incorporated.  Add the artichoke hearts and the spinach.  Keep cooking until the artichokes are heated through and the spinach starts to wilt.
  6. Divide the skillet mixture onto two plates.  Place one Tilapia filet on top of each.  Pour any extra sauce over each filet
  7. Top each with a dollop of Greek yougurt and chopped fresh parsley

This would also be pretty and delicious with some chopped fresh tomatoes on top along with a sprinkle of feta cheese.

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Thyme Chicken Salad

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I HATE leftovers.  I try to make myself eat them.  I really do.  But, honestly, I usually spend as much money, time and effort repurposing the leftovers into something more interesting as I did on the original meal.  However, that being said, I have some leftover roasted sweet potatoes that I just can’t stand to waste.  So I have started thinking about how to make them special.  I have a plan in my head.  I am not sure how it is going to turn out, but I am definitely going to give it a try.  It starts out with a creamy, on the inside, crispy on the outside savory sweet potato pancake.  And I want to top it with a protein of some sort to make it a full meal.  I am thinking a pulled chicken in a smoky cream sauce.  With sliced avocadoes?  This is how recipes are born.  Trial and error.  Mulling it over and over.  Saying ingredients out loud to determine if they “sound” good together.  If I saw the description on a menu, would it make my mouth water?

I’m getting away from my point – The creation has been tried.  (and approved!) I did make some modifications as the idea grew in my head.  Seeing as how it was 107 degrees the day I was making this, I decided that a cold chicken salad sounded better.  The meal that resulted was this:  A field greens salad with fresh summer berries and a honey lemon vinaigrette, a crispy, buttery sweet potato pancake drizzled with the creamy dressing and topped by a lemon thyme pulled chicken salad make with non-fat Greek yogurt.  Of course, I tried a Pinterest project for dessert…”slutty brownies.”  Those were a hit too!

So here is how I did the sweet potatoes.  It is very simple, so I am not attaching an actual “recipe.”  Hope that’s ok!  To 3 cups of roasted sweet potatoes, I added 8 oz of sour cream, 1/2 T nutmeg and salt and pepper.  I coarsely mashed them with a manual potato masher and then scooped them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, smashing them slightly flat.  I popped them into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes to heat them up.  Meanwhile, I melted butter in a nonstick skillet.  After heating the potato “patties” I used a spatula to transfer the warmed potatoes to the skillet, flipping them after a couple of minutes to make sure each side got a crispy coating.  I’m including the Thyme Chicken Salad recipe next!  Great by itself, in a sandwich or on top of a salad, this recipe is low-fat and really good for you!  Hope it helps you beat the heat this summer!

Thyme Chicken Salad

1 pkg of Chicken Breasts

1 pkg (bunch) of fresh thyme

Juice of 1 lemon

2 avocadoes

8-16 oz Greek yogurt

Salt and Pepper

  1.  In a large saucepot, boil the chicken breasts with 2/3 of the bunch of thyme.  This will help infuse the flavor into the chicken.  (about 30-40 minutes or until it is cooked all the way through)
  2. Shred the chicken breasts and put them into a large bowl.
  3. Remove the leaves from the remaining thyme and add it to the chicken.
  4. Dice the 2 avocadoes and add them to the chicken.  Gently toss it all to combine.
  5. Add the lemon juice and 8 oz of the Greek yogurt.   (add more yogurt if you want it creamier) Season to taste. 
  6. Store, covered tightly, in the refrigerator!