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Yogurt a versatile product if homemade or store-bought

Versatile dairy item growing in popularity, part of healthy diet

Michelle Bojrab grew up eating yogurt.

But not just any yogurt. It was a thick, creamy yogurt from her mother’s kitchen.

“I come from a Lebanese background, so my mom would make yogurt from scratch as a daily usage,” says Bojrab, a registered dietitian. “We would have it with rice, we would have it with a salad.”

The salad – Laban Khiyar – is one of Bojrab’s favorite dishes. It’s a mix of yogurt, garlic, fresh mint and cucumber and an example of how Bojrab says one can incorporate the dishes one grows up with into a healthy diet.

“You can have things as long as they are in moderation,” says Bojrab, a member of the Northeast Indiana Dietetic Association. “The whole point is to have those cultural foods that you like, but to do it in moderation making some adjustments in a healthier way.”

Bojrab is co-chair for the association’s National Nutrition Month, which marks its 40th anniversary with the theme “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.”

For one of the events, she will be putting together a yogurt bar, which she says is a great option for entertaining. Low-fat yogurt will be offered with fresh fruits – such as bananas and berries – along with something to add a bit of crunch, such as slivered almonds and pecans, and guests can customize their own bowl.

“Yogurt is becoming a very popular food throughout the United States. People are really starting to enjoy it,” Bojrab says. “And not if it’s just the plain low-fat. They like the flavors, but they are also starting to enjoy the Greek yogurt.”

Since 2007, Greek yogurt has gone from 1 percent of the market to 36 percent, with Chobani accounting for about half the market, according to a report by Bernstein Research. The report noted that Greek yogurt could continue to grow and peak at more than 50 percent of the broader yogurt market in the U.S.

“America is trying to find that healthier fix,” she says. “They are trying to become a little healthier in the way that they are living.”

What is yogurt: Yogurt is a fermented food made from milk and milk solids that has the cultures of two bacteria added.

Availability: The popularity of yogurt has grown in recent years and it is available almost anywhere, including gas stations.

Cost: Varies, depending on brand and packaging.

Health benefits: According to Bojrab, yogurt is high in calcium and a good source of protein and probiotics.

How to use: Plain yogurt is versatile and can be used as a condiment in place of sour cream (on tacos, for example) or in place of mayonnaise (in egg salad, for example). Add a natural sweetener, such as honey, and enjoy with fruit and nuts for breakfast.

Tips: Watch out for sugar. Though yogurt is a healthy condiment or snack, commercially available yogurts can be high in sugar. Bojrab suggests looking for one that has 15 grams of sugar or fewer per serving.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

If you go

The Northeast Indiana Dietetic Association is marking National Nutrition Month in March. The group will offer information and answer questions at events throughout the city.
•Fort Wayne Farmers Market, Parkview Field, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday
•Doctors Day at Science Central, 1950 N. Clinton St., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
•Breakfast with the Mayor, 9:30 a.m. March 12
•Fort Wayne Track Club Nutri-Run, The Chapel, 2505 W. Hamilton Road, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 30

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