Posted by: thehungryrunner | June 8, 2010

Flavored yogurt as salad dressing: My latest light eating “discovery”!

It’s something we’ve all read about and maybe even applied in our own recipes:  the suggestion to swap out certain high-calorie and/or high-fat ingredients in salad dressing recipes, and instead use plain yogurt.  Got it.  Good idea.

But being the queen of shortcut cooking that I am (as much as I love to extoll the virtues of slow, methodical meal preparation….alas, this isn’t but an occasional occurrence only for me lately), I have discovered yet another helpful use for yogurt:  using flavored yogurt as the salad dressing, all by itself!

It came about after my darling husband recently forwarded me a recipe for apple-tuna salad, extracted from a wellness newsletter he gets at work.  It looked yummy, but upon scanning it further, I quickly realized that I was missing some of the ingredients for the dressing.  Not having the chance to go to the store before dinner, I decided to experiment:  I would open a bag of “baby salad greens” I already had in the fridge, put it in a bowl with some chopped carrot, toss in a thinly slice a golden delicious apple (sweet, yet slightly tart), add a can of well-drained, water-pack chunk light tuna, and top it all with a container of “light” pineapple yogurt and lightly toss to coat.  I figured the pineapple could work as it’s a common ingredient in, say, carrot salad, or teriyaki tuna.

And lo and behold!  It was very tasty!  I tried it again on another day, this time mixing equal parts low-fat cottage cheese with the pineapple yogurt, and this worked out very well, too.  Then I began experimenting with sometimes eliminating the tuna, instead mixing and matching different fruit-vegetable combinations  and different yogurt flavors (example:  mango, carrot, and sweet butter lettuce with apricot yogurt, or jazz apple, chopped celery and mixed greens with key lime yogurt), at times even adding a handful of roasted sunflower seeds or some dried cranberries.  What a world of easy, healthy options this has opened up!  The one constant is using a container of flavored yogurt, or flavored yogurt mixed with low-fat cottage cheese, as the dressing.  I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to find this, it’s definitely helped increase our salad-eating frequency around here!

Yes, there are some limitations.  Obviously, flavored yogurt is also sweetened yogurt.  So for sure the choice of salad items needs to fall under those that are more compatable with sweet dressings.  But walk up and down the produce aisle, and I think you’ll find there are many more ways to work with this than you think!

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