A woman stood in amazement recently in a grocery store line as her toddler continued to demand: "Candy! Me want candy!" She glanced in my basket to find my two children of similar age quietly clutching their blueberry yogurt, seemingly unaware of the sugar-coated oasis we had entered at the checkout counter. She queried, "Do they really eat that stuff?" "Of course they do," I bragged, as any proud, health-conscious mother would. "Yogurt was among the first foods they were introduced to."
Yogurt is a healthful addition to a parent's list of OK snacks. It's a good alternative to higher-fat ice creams, puddings and the like.
One legend has it that yogurt started when milk, carried by desert nomads in goatskin pouches, became warm under the desert sun. It combined with the bacteria present in the pouch and turned into a thick, tart custard after a few hours in the cooling temperatures brought on by the desert night.
Ever since, it has been associated with good health and long life--the positive effects of yogurt bacteria on the human digestive system has been widely studied. It is a good source of calcium, protein and riboflavin.
Yogurt is made either from skim, low-fat or whole milk, which under careful time and temperature control is introduced to a yogurt culture--usually a small amount of unflavored yogurt, homemade, store-bought plain or freeze-dried. When the desired acidity level is reached, the yogurt is cooled quickly to stop any further culture development. The result is a tart, custard-like food that is delicious as a snack but is also a wonderful substitute for sour cream and mayonnaise when lower-fat alternatives are desired.
Most yogurt sold today is low fat, with fruit preserves either stirred in or on the bottom. They carry about 240 calories per eight-ounce serving--with skim-milk versions coming in around 200 calories but with a slightly more tart taste. Plain or unflavored yogurt is widely available and is the most widely used for cooking and baking.
Cooking with yogurt is easy. Stir it into favorite salad and sauce recipes or bake it into any number of muffin and bread recipes. Exercise some caution, however, when substituting yogurt for sour cream in heated recipes. Its lower fat content usually results in separation and curdling of the finished product. For best results, stir a small amount of the hot liquid into the yogurt to decrease its temperature, then stir the yogurt mixture back into the pan. UPDATE AT WALDORF
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
3 stalks celery
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 cup red seedless grapes, sliced
2 apples, diced
1 small head bibb lettuce
Combine yogurt, fennel, sugar and mint in bowl. Toss celery, walnuts, grapes and apples with dressing. Arrange lettuce leaves on serving platter and top with salad. Makes 4 servings.
PER SERVING: 307 calories; 8 gm protein; 29 gm carbohydrate; 21 gm fat; 73 mg sodium; 580 mg potassium.
Protein 12% Riboflavin 12% Vitamin A 12% Niacin 04% Vitamin C 17% Calcium 13% Thiamine 13% Iron 12%
MIDDLE EASTERN CHICKEN SALAD
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup sliced canned figs, drained
1 red crisp apple, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
4 lettuce leaves
1 quart shredded lettuce
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, cumin and garlic salt. Mix well. Toss with chicken, figs, apple and mint. Place lettuce leaves on individual plates. Top with shredded lettuce.
Peel and seed papaya, then cut into wedges lengthwise. Fan papaya slices over lettuce on plates. Top with chicken-fig mixture. Garnish with yogurt and almonds. Makes 4 servings.
PER SERVING: 526 calories; 27 gm protein; 31 gm carbohydrate; 34 gm fat; 594 mg sodium; 869 mg potassium.
Protein 41% Riboflavin 19% Vitamin A 34% Niacin 45% Vitamin C 82% Calcium 13% Thiamine 11% Iron 13%