While Greek yogurt may be your go-to for breakfast parfaits and snack smoothies, this Mediterranean-style dairy food also makes an amazing addition to your p.m. meal.
It can blend seamlessly and bulk up the nutrient profile of any dinner dish.
"Greek yogurt can be used in a variety of recipes to boost the protein content and contains almost double the protein compared to regular yogurt," May Zhu, RDN, LDN, founder of Nutrition Happens, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Plus, it can serve as a substitution for other dairy products such as buttermilk, sour cream or butter, which slashes calories and fat while still offering up a solid source of calcium, Zhu says.
While Greek yogurt contains live and active cultures (aka probiotics) that support gut health, adding heat (via cooking or baking) could potentially reduce the number of beneficial probiotics your body absorbs, Zhu says.
"While this doesn't decrease the integrity of the protein content, to get the [full] benefits of the probiotics from Greek yogurt, it's best to consume it in its original form," she explains.
Are You Getting Enough Protein?
Ready to put that tub of Greek yogurt to use? Expand your Greek yogurt repertoire with these seven delicious, dietitian-approved dinner recipes, one for every day of the week.
1. Grilled Moroccan Meatballs With Yogurt Sauce
With warm spices and fresh herbs, these grilled Moroccan meatballs — smoked and charred to perfection — will make your mouth water.
"Using Greek yogurt as the base for the sauce in this recipe will reduce the overall fat (compared to using other dairy options such as butter or heavy cream) and boost the protein," Zhu says.
And since the savory sauce, made with cooling cucumbers, isn't heated, "you're likely to get the probiotic benefits to support gut health as well," she adds.
"While this is a balanced meal with adequate protein and fats (and low in sugar), the total fiber in this recipe is on the lower side," Zhu points out. For more filling fiber, she recommends serving with quinoa, chickpeas or a side of fibrous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.
Get the Grilled Moroccan Meatballs With Yogurt Sauce recipe and nutrition info at Once Upon A Chef.
2. Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This vegetarian version of the classic comfort dish ditches meat for mushrooms and quinoa to reduce the overall saturated fat and increase the total amount of fiber, Zhu says.
A gluten-free superseed, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it one of a few plant-based foods designated as a complete protein, she says.
Greek yogurt gives these mouthwatering mashed potatoes a protein boost. Though taters get a bad rap for their starchy carb content, "white potatoes are a fantastic source of potassium — a medium-sized potato has almost double the amount than one banana — and our bodies need potassium for maintaining proper electrolyte and fluid balance in the body," Zhu says.
"While the addition of mushrooms, carrots and peas already add vitamins A, B and C into this dish, try swapping in extra vegetables or leafy greens like spinach to diversify the vitamins and minerals overall," she adds.
Get the Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie recipe and nutrition info at Feel Good Foodie.
3. Ranch Pasta Salad
This tasty twist on traditional pasta salad leans on Greek yogurt in its creamy sauce. Plus, it's packed with vitamin-rich veggies like red peppers, onions and cucumbers.
To increase the amount of fiber per serving, opt for 100-percent whole-grain noodles, Zhu says.
Get the Ranch Pasta Salad recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
4. Chicken Curry
You'll love this healthier chicken curry, which is just as tasty as takeout but with fewer calories.
"Greek yogurt lightens up traditional curry dishes that use heavy cream by reducing the total fat content," Zhu says. Not to mention it adds an additional source of quality protein for a whopping 36 grams per serving.
"The combination of protein and fat in this recipe will keep our blood sugars nice and steady, but to increase the amount of fiber in this recipe, try swapping in a brown rice or quinoa for the basmati rice," Zhu says.
Get the Chicken Curry recipe and nutrition info at Once Upon A Chef.
5. Crispy Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks With Mango Chutney
Marinated in Greek yogurt, citrus and spices, this crispy chicken Tandoori with tangy mango chutney is guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds.
But keep in mind: "Any recipe that calls for dark meat such as chicken drumsticks will contain more calories and saturated fat compared to ones that use chicken breast," Zhu says.
"However, dark meat provides an excellent source of B vitamins (our bodies need this for energy), zinc and iron."
"To increase the nutrition value of this recipe, try pairing the drumsticks with a vegetable-packed salad or grilled vegetables," she adds.
Get the Crispy Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks With Mango Chutney recipe and nutrition info at Once Upon A Chef.
6. Roasted Salmon With Yogurt Dill Sauce
Bursting with flavor, this chilled, creamy Greek yogurt sauce featuring dill, lemon, garlic and chives pairs perfectly with juicy, roasted salmon.
"Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which our body needs to help support brain and heart health," Zhu says.
Satiating salmon is even stellar for weight loss since high-protein diets have been shown to improve appetite, body weight management and heart risk factors, according to an April 2015 paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
To balance out the meal, Zhu suggests serving with a side salad or colorful cooked veggies.
Get the Roasted Salmon With Yogurt Dill Sauce recipe at Olga’s Flavor Factory.
7. Tuna Avocado Salad
Ready in 10 minutes, this simple, stove-free tuna avocado salad is perfect for hot summer nights.
"Swapping Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise is a great way to boost the protein content and reduce the overall saturated fat," Zhu says.
Bonus: Since this recipe doesn't involve cooking with heat, you retain Greek yogurt's probiotic pluses.
"For those looking to lower their carb intake, this recipe provides less than 10 grams of carbs but will still help you stay full thanks to the protein and fiber," Zhu says.
Monounsaturated fats from the creamy avocado will also keep your belly happy while supporting your heart health, she adds.
Get the Tuna Avocado Salad recipe and nutrition info at Feel Good Foodie.