Why Greek Yogurt Tastes So Good
New to North American cooks, extra-thick Greek yogurt has been an important part of the healthy Mediterranean diet for centuries. Celebrity chef, author and restaurateur Anthony Sedlak spent seven weeks with Danone Oikos in the rugged island of Nafplion, Greece -- eating, exploring and even milking sheep -- to find out all about the secrets behind Greek yogurt. Here's what he told us.
Fresh Juice: Why is Greek yogurt so much thicker than other styles?
Anthony Sedlak: It's all about the straining process. The yogurt is strained through fine cheesecloth so all the whey or liquid drains away, leaving nothing but naturally thick yogurt. That's why they don't use any gums or thickeners.
FJ: What makes Greek yogurt attractive to health-conscious consumers?
AS: Because it's concentrated, ounce for ounce it contains more protein and calcium, without being any higher in fat [than regular low-fat yogurt].
FJ: How is Greek yogurt enjoyed in Greece?
AS: It's everywhere! In the small towns, they sell it in clay pots. It's eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, it's used to make that amazing tzatziki, which is delicious over grilled lamb, but it's also served very simply with local honey and nuts. In fact, yogurt bars are popping up all over Athens.
FJ: How can Canadian cooks incorporate Greek yogurt into a healthy diet?
AS: Think outside the box for yogurt recipes. Greek yogurt is not just for a sweet snack; it's a fantastic rich, low-fat addition to savoury dishes, too! Use it to add a creamy texture and tang while cutting the fat anywhere a recipe calls for mayo, sour cream, crème fraîche or cream cheese, from dressings to marinades to panna cotta.
FJ: Why is Greek yogurt great as a marinade?
AS: Yogurt is cultured, so its enzymes help tenderize meats. It's great for tandoori chicken or even a tough cut of beef.
FJ: What was the highlight of your trip to Greece?
AS: I got to spend some time with a family of sheep farmers. I milked a sheep, hauled the milk up the mountain to the dairy and made yogurt. It was hard work, a little messy and I loved it!
FJ: Did you learn anything else on your fact-finding mission?
AS: I had the pleasure of visiting authentic Greek fishing villages, farms, cheese-makers and vineyards. Taking it all in, I realized a healthy life and diet is about embracing the whole Greek philosophy of slowing down and cooking with good ingredients.