Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Souvlaki: Grilled Pork Kebabs

It's time to fire up the grill (if you haven't already) - and get your souvlaki on! Last-minute souvlaki is best made with pork or chicken. They are tender meats and just need a short time in the marinade. Lamb and beef are tougher and need a long time to marinate.

Souvlaki (say: soov-LAH-kee) - skewered kebabs - is one of those foods that have become synonymous with Greece, as popular with Greeks as they are with non-Greeks. Souvlaki is a favorite street food on the skewer or in pita wraps, and a family favorite at home, cooked on the grill. A quick marinade of herbs, spices, oil, is all that's needed.


· Pork Loin
· Garlic, finely chopped
· Olive Oil
· Lemon, fresh juice
· Red Onion, finely chopped
· Green bell pepper
· Tomatoes
· Salt and pepper
· dried Greek oregano (rigani)

Prepare the meat and cut in bite size pieces and place them in a bowl. Add the garlic, onion, oregano and olive oil and season with the pepper and salt. If making bigger quantities, use plastic bags and place the meat with the marinade in each bag, shake well and store in the fridge overnight or at least for a few hours. Make sure to shake the plastic bags several times so that the marinade can distribute evenly. If marinating the meat in the bowl, turn it with a spoon several times (that’s what I prefer and you can actually prepare that 2 days in advance it becomes more tender).

When ready to make, put the meat pieces on the skewers (with or without thin slices of onion, tomatoe and green bell pepper between) and grill them for a few minutes. Don’t overdo it since pork loin gets harder when extensively grilled.

Of all the versions of souvlaki, pork is the most frequently used meat in Greece. This is an easy recipe to make, and even easier to eat. Make the skewers with small pieces of meat to recreate a classic Greek street food, or make them large for a meal.

Favorite taste combinations: When fixing this recipe for Pork Souvlaki at home, I always figure on at least ½ killo of meat per person because these are such favorites. But that's a lot of meat - so side dishes are kept pretty minimal. We enjoy these with fried potatoes, a classic Greek salad, some great crusty country bread (or grilled Greek or Cyprus pitta bread if available), and tzatziki.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


If you've never tried Pastitsio, you're in for a real treat when you experiment with this recipe. This is a rich meat and pasta casserole that is a wonderful one-dish meal for a chilly winter evening. It requires several ingredients, but is quite easy to make. This definitely isn't a low fat or low calorie dish, but it is a terrific treat to enjoy on special occasions. Hearty and delicious. The beauty of this recipe (besides great taste) is it's ability to freeze (and defrost) so well, with no loss of flavour, making it ideal for once a month cooking.

To prepare Pastitsio, you will need to make a meat sauce, a white sauce, and prepare the pasta before combining everything to bake.

Prep Time: 1 hours, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour


· 1 kg beef mince
· 1/2 kg macaroni for pastitsio (Traditionally, Greek macaroni no. 2 pasta is used but ziti or other tubular pasta, long or short, can be substituted)
· 1 large red onion finely cut
· 1 – 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
· 3 big ripe tomatoes, grated
· 2 tea-cups grated cheeses (caseri, kefalograviera, parmesan or halloumi)
· 1 tea-cup white dry wine
· 1/2 tea-cup olive oil
· salt, pepper
· 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinammon
· 1 cup finely chopped parsley

For the béchamel sauce (white sauce): In Greek: μπεσαμέλ, pronounced beh-sah-MEL
· 7-8 tbsp flour
· 6 tbsp butter or Olive Oil
· 4 tea-cups freshly-boiled milk
· 3 eggs
· salt and pepper
· cinammon
· 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

Boil macaroni in salted water (don't let them boil too much), drain and return to the pot (but not over any heat) toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside. Meanwhile put the finely chopped garlic and the onion in a frying pan saute them and when they wither, add mince, broken in pieces, along with salt, pepper and the ground cinammon. When it’s almost cooked sprinkle with wine and add the tomatoes and finally the parsley. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has been absorbed. Mmmm...fragrant!

For the béchamel make your best efforts. Put butter in a pot and melt it in medium heat. Then add flour, stirring all the time with wire, not to let it stick. When they are mixed and a bit golden in colour, add slowly the boiled milk and stir into a thick white sauce (add some more flour if not thick enough). After sauce is creamy, remove from heat and allow it 2 – 3 minutes to cool. In the meatime beat three eggs in a bowl and after the white sauce cools add them to it stirring with the wire and return to the heat, whisking briskly until well blended. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use. Butter a roasting pan and lay out half of the macaroni and put on top half of the grated cheese. Add mince (see that it goes everywhere), the rest of macaroni, the rest of cheese and carefully pour the home made béchamel over the top and use a spatula to spread evenly. Springle with cinammon and breadcrumbs and cook in the heated oven for about an hour at 180 C or until the sauce rises and turns golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool before serving (Pastitsio is served warm, not hot). Cut into rectangular pieces

Eat it with your family or friends.

Notes: This dish can be prepared the day before, all the way to the béchamel sauce, refrigerated overnight, and cooked the next day after adding the sauce.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gemista (stuffed tomatoes)

Gemista, means “filled” or “stuffed” vegetables such as, peppers, eggplants, courgettes, onions etc. The filling can be a meat based one, usually with minced beef and rice but I sometimes prefer to make them vegetarian (or some of them) as I cook meat but I don’t eat it.

Gemista fall under the category ladera or “oily” food, as we call them but my version is a much lighter one, using not too much oil and are mostly “saucy” than “ladera”. The normal amount of oil used would be at least twice the quantity I use.
Gemista is a summer food, since it is the time when the tomatoes are ripe and as they are a light food they can be consumed during hot Mediterranean temperatures, as a slightly hot or cold dish. I really don’t mind baking during summer and if it’s unbearably hot, I prepare them in the evening and bake them early in the morning or just have the air-conditioning on. Although there are tomatoes year round now with the green houses, I seldom make them during winter, except maybe during Lent when we need to eat a variety of vegetarian dishes or whenever the girls ask for them.
Sometimes, I add thin slices of potatoes in between the gaps but as potatoes usually take more time to cook, I end up by over baking them, so now I prefer to half bake the potatoes separately in parchment paper, adding the same seasoning, and then add them to cook together or cut them in small cubes from the very beginning.
Gemista are one of my favourite dishes as it is a combination of so many tastes and aromas. Vegetables, oil, rice, potatoes, parsley and mint are mingled in our palate and all the sweet juices from the fresh ripe tomatoes should be mopped off the plate with fresh hot bread.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4 - 5


· 9 large, ripe, tomatoes
· 1 large red onion finely cut
· 1 – 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
· 1/3 cup top quality extra virgin olive oil
· 3 green bell peppers
· 150 grams short-grained rice (Carolina)
· 1 cup finely chopped parsley
· 2 tbsp dried Greek Mint or fresh if available
· salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 2 large Potatoes (optional), cut into thin wedges, seasoned with salt, pepper and dried oregano


Wash tomatoes and cut a horizontal slice off the bottom side of the tomato (not where the stem is) but do not cut entirely.
With a teaspoon, scoop out the contents of the tomato into a food processor and then blend them.
Wash the green bell peppers and cut horizontal the top side where the stem is entirely and cut out the seeds.
Put the tomatoes and peppers in a baking dish and sprinkle some salt inside their cavities.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a non stick sautéing pan and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent then add the rice and mix.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the blended tomatoes, lower heat and mix for five minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the parsley and mint, mix in and remove from the heat.
Fill in the tomatoes and peppers by ¾ full, leaving room for the uncooked rice to expand. Cover the tomatoes and the peppers with the lids.
Add the potatoes, the remaining olive oil and some tomatoe juice. (No water should be added)
Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.
Bake for about 1 hour thirty minutes. Baste the vegetables at least twice, in order to keep them moist on the top or cover with a silver foil and have it removed after the first hour.
In case no potatoes are used the baking time is less.

Horiatiki Salata: Greek Salad

On the menu in every Greek restaurant and many non-Greek restaurants as well, this salad has many individual variations, but here are the basics to work from. This is the traditional version that does not include lettuce.
Note: Many cooks peel the tomatoes if the skins are tough; it's a personal call.

Prep Time: 15 minutes


· 4 large, ripe, tomatoes
· 1 large red onion
· 1 cucumber
· 1 green bell pepper
· 50 gr of Greek feta cheese, sliced or cumbled
· dried Greek oregano (rigani)
· sea salt
· top quality extra virgin olive oil
· 1 dozen Greek olives (Kalamata, green Cretan olives, etc.)


Wash and dry the tomatoes, cucumber, and green pepper. Clean off the outer skin from the onion, wash, and dry.
Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized irregularly shaped chunks. Slice the cucumber into 1/4-inch slices, cutting slices in half (whether or not you peel the cucumber is a personal choice). Slice the pepper into rings, removing the stem and seeds. Slice the onion into thin rings.
Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper and onion in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with oregano, pour olive oil over the salad, and toss. Just before serving, place the feta on top of the salad, either as a slice or crumbled, and toss in some olives. Sprinkle the cheese with oregano (and pepper if desired), add the olive oil and serve.
Yield: Serves 4-6

Tzatziki: Traditional Yogurt, Cucumber, and Garlic Dip

Tzatziki is traditionally served as an appetizer and can be left on the table as an accompaniment to foods throughout the meal. The key to great tzatziki is the thick creamy texture that allows it to be eaten alone, as a dip, as a spread, and as a condiment.

Prep Time: 15 minutes


· 16 ounces (2 cups) of thick Greek yogurt
· 4 cloves of garlic grated
· 1/2 cup of diced or grated cucumber (Kirby or "English")
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil
· 1 - 2 teaspoons of dried Greek mint
· ½ teaspoon salt


Prepare all ingredients in advance. Fold the yogurt in slowly, making sure it mixes completely with the oil. Add the garlic, according to taste, and the cucumber. Stir until evenly distributed. Garnish with the dried mint and serve well chilled.

Shopping Tip:

The thick, full-fat yogurts available at Greek, Middle Eastern, and specialty food markets - or a commercial full-fat strained yogurt - will give the best results

Preparation Tips:

· Kirby or "English" cucumbers work best (usually wrapped in plastic wrap at the market). If not available, peel and seed the cucumber before dicing or grating.
· After dicing or grating the cucumber, pat it dry with absorbent toweling to remove excess moisture.
· The longer the tzatziki is refrigerated before serving, the more intense the garlic taste will become.


Tzatziki will store safely in the refrigerator for several days. If excess liquid accumulates on top, just pour it off.

Serving Suggestions:

Friends who are passionate about tzatziki serve it with non-Greek foods as well including fried chicken, lunch/dinner omelets, and in other ways suited to their tastes.

Kolokythanthoi Yemistoi me Ryzi: Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Rice

Zucchini blossoms (and blossoms from other squash) make a delightful appetizer, and they are often stuffed with mixtures similar to fillings used in stuffed leaves and vegetables. This vegetarian version calls for a mixture of rice, tomatoes, and herbs, and is served at room temperature.
Blossoms can be used from winter and summer squash. If picking your own fresh blossoms, pick early in the morning while blossoms are open. Separate from stalk.
Cook Time: 30 minutes


· 20 zucchini blossoms
· 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice
· 1 medium onion, grated
· 3 tomatoes, grated or finely chopped
· 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
· 1/2 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
· 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
· sea salt
· freshly ground black pepper
· 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
· 1 cup of water
· 1/4 cup of olive oil


Rinse the zucchini blossoms individually, removing any external green leaves and internal pistil and stamen, using a sharp knife. Take care not to tear the blossoms. Once rinsed, place the bottom of each blossom into the opening of another to prevent from closing, and set aside to drain thoroughly. Pat dry before using.
Note: The pistil and stamen do not need to be removed, but most Greek cooks do take them out.

In a mixing bowl, combine rice, onion, tomatoes, parsley, mint, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to help bind and mix thoroughly.
Carefully fill each blossom with 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Fold the open end of the blossom inward and turn underneath, and place in a wide pot or deep skillet. Continue until all blossoms are filled, and placed snugly in a single layer in the pot.

Add 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.
Yield: 20 pieces

Spetzofai: Country Sausage with Peppers & Tomato

The choice of peppers is yours, but unless the sausage is extremely mild, red bell peppers are always a good choice. For mild sausage, try Greek pepperoncini or other mildly hot pepper. In this recipe, I used our local handmade sausage (loukaniko) which has enough spice to make my eyes water, so I chose red, green and orange (sweeter) bell peppers. Note: This is delicious on the second day as well!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes


· 2 pounds of spicy country sausage
· 2 medium onions
· 1 red bell peppers
· 1 yellow bell peppers
· 1 green bell peppers
· 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped with juice
· 1 clove of garlic, sliced
· 1 tablespoon white or red wine
· 3 tablespoons of olive oil


Cut sausage into slices. Peel onions and cut into chunks. Trim peppers and remove seeds. Cut into chunks.
In a heavy-bottomed frying pan or skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5-8 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add sausage, peppers, chopped tomato and juice, and garlic, and stir until all ingredients are well mixed. Stir in wine and cover. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spoon onto serving plates and serve warm. A favorite with rice.
Yield: serves 4

Keftedakia (Meat Balls)

Keftethakia are a favorite dish and easy to make. I usually make up large batches of the meat mixture and use some for these cocktail meatballs, and others for hamburger patties or meatballs in sauce.
Tip: When buying the ground meat, ask the butcher to grind it twice. The grind used in the originals is finer than that usually found in grocery stores.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


· 1 Kilo of lean ground beef
· 2 large onions, grated
· 5 tablespoon of Greek Mint
· 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
· 1 tablespoon of sea salt
· 2 eggs, beaten with a fork
· 2 slices of white bread, crust removed (best if slightly stale)
· 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
· 3 tablespoons of olive oil
· 1/4 cup of toasted breadcrumbs
· 2 big potatoes thinly grated and squeeze out the juice
· 1 teaspoon BP
· olive oil for frying
· some flour


Wet the bread, squeeze out the moisture. Mix all ingredients for 10 minutes by hand until soft and well blended.
Form the meat into slightly flattened balls with a diameter of about 1 3/4 inches at most (about the diameter of a golf ball)and roll them in the flour.
Pour about 1/3 inch of olive oil into the frying pan and heat until hot. Add meatballs, and fry over medium heat until brown on all sides (about 15-20 minutes). (A 10-inch frying pan will hold about 25 meatballs.)
Serve with lemon wedges.
Yield: 40 cocktail meatballs
(if the micture is more than you wish to use for the day you can always safe the rest in a special freezer bag for another day to use!!

Hummus with Tahini

This dip is quick and easy to make, delicious, and healthy. No cooking involved. Just grab the blender and go. Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and tahini (a paste made from roasted sesame seeds) combine to make a tasty appetizer to serve with wedges of pita bread. A favorite in Greek restaurants outside Greece (see note below the recipe).

The key to great hummus is to let the flavor of the chickpeas come through, rather than be overwhelmed by the lemon (it's easy to get too much lemon taste).
Prep Time: 5 minutes


· 2 1/2 cups of canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
· 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 1/4 cup of tahini
· 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
· 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
· 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
· 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
· pinch of freshly ground black pepper
· 1 teaspoon of salt
· 1/3 cup of water
· parsley and olive oil to garnish


Put 1/2 the lemon juice and all ingredients into the blender except the chickpeas (and the parsley and oil for garnish) and blend for 5 seconds. Add the chick peas and blend on high until it reaches the the consistency of sour cream, but granular, about 10-15 seconds. Blend in remaining lemon juice to taste. If the dip is too thick but you don't want to add more lemon juice, add a little water slowly and blend until it reaches the correct consistency.
Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. (It can be eaten immediately, but becomes even more flavorful if left to chill well.)
Drizzle of olive oil over the top and add a garnish of parsley or black olives before serving. Serve with pita wedges or slices of whole grain breads.
Note: Be sure to rinse the canned chickpeas well to clear away the taste of any ingredients used in the canning process.
About Hummus and Greek Food: Hummus is a dip/spread that is made from chickpeas. In fact, hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea. You may notice that many hummus recipes call for garbanzo beans, not chickpeas. Don't worry, garbanzo is the Spanish translation of chickpea. They are called cece beans in Italy.

Hummus is one of the oldest foods dating back to ancient Egypt. We know that chickpeas were used quite frequently over 7,000 years ago.

Dakos: Rusks with Tomato and Cheese from Crete

A traditional meze or light meal on the island of Crete, dakos (also called "koukouvayia") is often called "Greek bruschetta," and is easy to make with few ingredients and no cooking. You can find rusks at online Greek food shops, make your own, or use a thick slice of grilled or toasted crusty country bread (without the water).

Prep Time: 10 minutes


· 1/2 of a large round barley rusk (about 5 inches diameter)
· 1 large or 2 small ripe tomatoes, coarsely grated (discard skin)
· 2-3 heaping tablespoons of feta cheese or aged myzithra, crumbled or grated
· extra virgin olive oil
· freshly ground pepper
· Greek oregano (rigani)


Run the rusk under a spray of water (about 4-6 tablespoons) to moisten. Grate the tomato with a vegetable grater (or the large grate on a multi-grater) into a strainer over a bowl so most of the liquid drains off.
Spread the grated tomato on the rusk and top with cheese. Sprinkle with pepper and a good amount of oregano, and drizzle with olive oil.
Yield: One rusk serves 1 as a light meal, 2-4 as a meze.


Fava is an easy dish to make and its bright yellow color is a pretty addition to any table. It can be served as an appetizer, meze, or a side dish. Fava goes particularly well with dark leafy greens, salty dishes, and fish. Look for the peas at a Greek grocer, or try an Indian market and look for yellow daal (moong). Last choice: check your local grocery store for yellow split peas.


· 1 3/4 cups of yellow split peas
· 4 1/3 cups of water
· 1 tablespoon of sea salt
· 2 tablespoons of olive oil
· -----------
· chopped red onion to garnish
· extra virgin olive oil to garnish


Put the peas in a pot with water to cover generously. Bring to a boil and cook 5-10 minutes until froth rises to the top. Drain the peas and rinse well.
In a pressure cooker, add the 4 1/3 cups water and peas. Bring to a boil, seal, and when pressure reached, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Use fast-release of pressure, and open the pot.

Puree the peas and liquid in a food processor bowl, and return to the pot. Add oil and salt. Cook uncovered over lowest possible heat for 15 minutes until it becomes the texture of thick cream, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent from sticking.
Serve at room temperature in shallow bowls topped off with olive oil and a tablespoon of diced onion.

Yield: serves 8-10 as a side dish, more if combined with other mezethes or appetizers.

To store: Cover and set aside for 12 hours, then refrigerate in an air-tight container.

COCONUT CAKE (by my beloved Granny Despina)


1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups coconut
¾ cup sunflower oil
2 ½ tea spoon fulls BP
4 eggs
some vanilla sugar

Syrup: 2 ½ cups of sugar and 2 ½ cups water, 2 gloves and 1 cinammon stick. We just bring it to boil and set it aside until the cake is baked.


First we whisk the sugar with the oil. When they become creamy we add the eggs to make a soft creamy mixture. Then we add the fresh milk. In a bowl we mix all the rest of the ingredients and we add then all slowly while whisking the micture.

Bake at 170 degrees until golden on top. To check if its baked put through the mixture a knife and if it comes out dry then the cake is baked.

Instantly after removing from the oven while it is still warm we poor the syrup which we had made allready and it is in a room temperature.

At the end optionally put some more grated coconut on top for garnish.

Cheese Cake


1 pack Digestive Buiscuits
½ unsalted butter
1 Philadelphia Cheese
1 Vlahas (sweetened milk)
½ cup lemon juice
1 Blackurrant can or Redckurrant or Strawberries
1 morfat cream


Grate the buiscuits and mix it with the unsalted butter. We place it in an either rounded form or any kind of pyrex that we like and we press it with the back of a spoon to sit firmly. Place it in the fridge for half hour to become firm.

In the meantime we put in the mixer the morfat cream, and after 20 seconds the philadelphia cheese. When they become creamy we add the milk and the lemon juice.

Place the mixture on top of the buiscuit and place it in the fridge to set.

Just about an hour before serving add the blackcurrants.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yoghurt or yogurt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. Fermentation of lactose produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yoghurt its texture and its characteristic tang. Soy yoghurt, a non-dairy yoghurt alternative, is made from soy milk.

There is evidence of cultured milk products being produced as food for at least 4,500 years. The earliest yoghurts were probably spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus.

Yoghurt is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It has nutritional benefits beyond those of milk. People who are moderately lactose-intolerant can enjoy yoghurt without ill effects, because the lactose in the milk precursor is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial culture. The reduction of lactose bypasses the affected individuals' need to process the milk sugar themselves.

Yoghurt also has medical uses, in particular for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, and in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. One study suggests that eating yoghurt containing L. acidophilus helps prevent vulvovaginal candidiasis, though the evidence is not conclusive.

Yoghurt is believed to promote good gum health, possibly because of the probiotic effect of lactic acids present in yoghurt.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity also found that the consumption of low fat yoghurt can promote weight loss. In the trial, obese individuals who ate 3 servings of low fat yoghurt a day as part of a low calorie diet lost 22% more weight than the control group who only cut back on calories and did not have extra calcium. They also lost 81% more abdominal fat.

Yoghurt Benefits

The health benefits of yogurt have been cited for centuries, but many people still don’t realize just how valuable yogurt can be to living a healthy lifestyle. Yogurt can actually benefit your health in a variety of ways, and it should definitely be added to your shopping list the next time you head out to the grocery store.

The most outstanding benefit of yogurt comes right from the unique way yogurt is made. Yogurt is simply milk or cream that is cultured with active live cultures. These cultures are the key to many of yogurt’s health benefits. Active live cultures are basically good bacteria that are necessary for the body to function at its best. These good bacteria prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that cause bacterial infections and diseases. Healthy levels of good bacteria also promote digestive health and boost the immune system.

Good bacteria prevent imbalances in the body’s yeast levels, which can prevent various types of yeast infections. It has been shown that good bacteria can also prevent urinary tract infections. If you are taking antibiotics, they may be destroying the good bacteria present in your body. Eating yogurt regularly can help restore your good bacteria levels. Active live cultures actually reduce yogurt’s level of lactose, making yogurt a delicious dairy alternative for anyone who is lactose intolerant.

Since yogurt is made from dairy products, it is very high in calcium, which is highly beneficial for bone and teeth health. Calcium is especially important for those seeking to prevent bone density loss and osteoporosis. Healthy levels of calcium can also encourage the body to maintain and lose weight.

Yogurt is also a good source of protein, which helps give the body energy to keep you going throughout the day. Protein is an essential building block for many systems in the body, including your muscles. Protein is also good for curbing your appetite and helping you feel full for a longer period of time.

Yogurt can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways. By adding fruit, berries, granola, nuts, or chocolate candies to your yogurt, you can turn it into a delicious replacement for your usual dessert. You can also substitute yogurt for milk in many recipes for foods like pancakes, waffles, and even pumpkin pie.

When buying yogurt, the more natural the product is, the more beneficial it will be to your health. Organic yogurt is best. Look for yogurt that is low in sugar and without added trans fat or high fructose corn syrup. If you are on a low-fat diet: many brands of yogurt come in low-fat or no-fat versions. Always check the levels of active live cultures in your yogurt.

The more active live cultures there are present in your yogurt, the more benefits you will receive from them. Keep in mind that yogurt should be made with pasteurized milk or cream, but any pasteurizing done after the culturing process can kill the active live cultures and keep you from reaping their benefits.