Posts Tagged ‘Greek yogurt’

Guess what?!

I’m spending SIX hours on a bus tonight! WHEEE!!!

Have I lost it? Did I make it to Friday in body only?

Nope! I’m pumped for this bus ride, because it’s taking my booty down to Richmond, Virginia to spend the weekend with two of my best friends in the world! You met Berkley last weekend, and this trip to VA was prompted by her engagement party, which will take place tomorrow night at her family’s beautiful farm.

I’ve also mentioned Kathleen before briefly, but a refresher can’t hurt!

Playing Eloise in a luggage rack. Completely normal 24-year-old activity.

Kathleen is one of the wittiest people I know, shares my habit of perpetual nail-biting, and we have been known to turn down social invitations because we are so thoroughly enjoying sitting in silence together, chewing away.

Hurts so Good

Dunno how I got so lucky, but Berkley and Kathleen live together, and I cannot wait to get there and give them both enormous hugs!

In case ANYONE remembered my Protein Friday promise from last week–I haven’t forgotten!

But first, I just have to share my awesome eats from yesterday, which inspired this week’s protein focus. Everything was lipsmackin’ good from start to finish (snacks not included).

Better than melted butter on warm bread? I defy you. Whole wheat English muffin (lightly toasted so innards stay doughy :)) schmeared with butter and honey, plain Greek yogurt with Splenda, cinnamon and sliced ‘naner!

Cannot get enough of this house-cooked, uber-rare melt-in-your mouth roast beef. On whole wheat with provolone, lettuce, pepper and mayo. Veggies on the side.

Leftover Parmesan Baked Chicken Tenders on a whole wheat tortilla with sliced Gruyere, hummus and a drizzle of the tender recipe balsamic vinaigrette. THIS WAS CLOSE YOUR EYES WORLD IN SLOW MO GOOD.

Spinach salad with a low-fat Chipotle dressing that I got for free at work and red pepper flakes

Freebie dressing – I was NOT a fan of this. Sickly sweet and didn’t have nearly enough Chipotle flavor

1-2-3 Cake with Protein Frosting 2.0, minus the cool whip and with a tsp cacao powder added! Several spoonfuls of each made a detour to my mouth before I could assemble this.

My delectable breakfast and dessert and my not-so-delectable ranch dressing imposter inspired me to make GREEK YOGURT the topic of this Protein Friday!

Trifecta of my favorite brand.

I have touted the magic of Greek yogurt briefly before on this blog, but it is SUCH a nutritional powerhouse, especially in the protein department, that I decided it deserves more thorough attention.

Greek yogurt is yogurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yogurt and cheese while preserving yoghurt’s distinctive sour taste. Removing the whey results in a higher protein and lower sugar content (Wiki).

One serving of plain or unflavored, fat-free Greek yogurt provides 80 to 100 calories and 15 to 18 g of protein!!! (LIVESTRONG.com (a site I use frequently and have found to be reliable/informative):

The daily recommended amount of protein for women is 46 grams–2 servings of (some brands) of Greek yogurt, and you’re basically there!

And a looker t’boot!

I realize that not everyone enjoys the somewhat sour taste of Greek yogurt, BUT its protein punch is only matched by its versatility, and plain Greek Yogurt is a marvelous base for an endless variety of recipes.

I have found that with the right additional ingredients, you can completely mask the sourness and simply enjoy its creamy texture and nutritional offerings.

To jumpstart your creative juices, here are some of the ways that I like use/doctor Greek yogurt to keep things tasty and exciting!

  • Frosting/cake batter pudding: probably my favorite way to eat GY :). For the simplest version, just add two teaspoons of sugar-free instant Vanilla Jello pudding to a cup of yogurt and mix thoroughly. This is amazing globbed on top of baked goods, or just eaten straight-up with a spoon. If you wanna get fancy, you can check out my official recipe for Protein Frosting 2.0. If you like protein powder, you can check out the original Protein Frosting recipe as well.
  • Sour Cream: if you do not have an aversion to its unadulterated flavor, GY makes an excellent substitute for sour cream. I recently used it on my Furritos, but it will do the trick in any instance where you’d normally use sour cream.
  • Mayonnaise: GY also does an excellent job moonlighting as mayo! Feel free to get creative and add whatever spices/condiments you like. Add dijon mustard and sweet paprika for egg salad, or honey mustard and a pinch of ginger with chicken salad. Mix with sweet chili sauce, BBQ sauce or pesto to provide a protein-rich and creamy base for your favorite deli sandwich. Sky’s the limit!
  • Veggie Dip: You can create an infinitely better ranch dressing the the one I sampled above–just add 1-2 tsp of ranch seasoning from a packet to a cup of plain GY and stir. So delicious as a dip for veggies, pretzels, you name it. This also works with taco seasoning if you have a hankerin’ for Southwestern flavors. Or just add a bit of salt, pepper, squeeze of lemon juice and dried dill to taste–equally delicious and great on crackers with smoked salmon.
  • Breakfast’s best friend: I often use GY as the main protein source in my breakfasts. Throw it into a Green Monster or other smoothie–this also adds a lovely thickness. Add a bit of sweetener (agave, honey, Splenda, jam, pumkin butter), and top with dried or fresh fruit, whole-grain cereal, nuts or granola. I almost always include a generous dash of cinnamon, which is a natural sweetness-enhancer, and I love grapes and bananas as toppings because of their naturally high sugar content.  Strange as it might sound, try mixing 1/3 c GY (doctored to taste) with 1/2 c cooked oatmeal or quinoa. Super yummy and satisfying! Lastly, you can also swirl in a scoop of peanut or almond butter–this is fabulous on apple slices.
  • Oil or butter in baked goods: Greek yogurt can be a healthy alternative to oil and butter in many recipes for cookies, cakes, quick breads etc. It provides the same  (if not more) moisture, while drastically reducing the saturated fat and skyrocketing the protein content. It is not always advised to replace at a 1:1 ratio (e.g. 1 c butter should be replaced with 1/2 c butter and 1/4 c yogurt), so do some research before making any changes to the recipe!
  • Frozen yogurt, the real stuff! I haven’t tried it yet, but I recently stumbled upon a recipe for raspberry frozen Greek yogurt that sounds phenomenal. Just throw one cup of plain GY, one cup of frozen raspberries and 2 tbs of powdered sugar in your food processor and blend! I’m sure this would work with other frozen fruit as well. I also stumbled upon this awesome recipe for chocolate frozen GY, which I’m definitely trying soon!Let me know if you try either of these and I’ll certainly do the same!

I hope some of these ideas were helpful, and have inspired you to add more protein to your diet through delicious variations on Greek yogurt!

I’m heading off into the highway sunset, so have a fabulous weekend, and I will report back on Monday with my Richmond adventures!

What is your favorite way to eat Greek yogurt?


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1-2-3 Cake!

BOY OH BOY, do I have something for you guys…

  • THREE ingredients
  • MINIMAL dirty dishes
  • MAXIMAL couch relaxation

One cake so moist and delicious, I couldn’t you can’t help but be appalled by the inadequacy of your fork to do its job.

Amateur hour

Now, when it comes to cooking and baking, the majority of the time, I’m a make-from-scratch kinda girl.

But dash it all, sometimes that childhood Betty Crocker vanilla birthday cake taste is EXACTLY what I’m looking for.

I’d heard of using instant pudding in cake-mix cakes along with the typical add-ins, but I wanted something even easier.  After a bit of Google-rummaging, I found a few recipes that nixed almost everything but the instant pudding.

The recipe that will unfold before you is winning amalgam of those few.

Back to Basics

Not only does this recipe take all of five minutes to whip up before popping in the oven, it’s significantly HEALTHIER than a traditional cake-mix cake. No butter, no oil and MOST IMPORTANTLY, a serious reduction in sugar.

Before we dive in, let me just express that in my opinion, moderate use of butter and heart-healthy oils like canola and coconut is PART OF A BALANCED lifestyle. Despite my love of all things sweet, however; I will almost always be an advocate of less sugar in recipes. 

Why’s that?

1) It’s not good for your sweet lil’ body

2) Most recipes call for more than necessary to make a great-tasting product.

3) There’s nothing scarier than being at the whim of your dentist and his drill. Just sayin’.

Ok, now on to the good stuff!

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9×13 in. baking dish or a round cake pan–we used melted butter, but you can use canola oil or other spray if you like (‘we’–roomie Carina co-chaired this project with me!).

Empty your packet of instant pudding into a bowl along with two cups of COLD milk, and whisk vigorously for about two minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Bring back that elbow grease!

Open your box of cake mix and slowly add it into the pudding along with one teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional).

Still with me?

Once the batter is just barely incorporated, stir in any goodies that you like. Carina and I opted for spring-time sprinkles!

Around this time, that familiar and intoxicating scent of reproduction cake batter will start makin’ you a little light-headed.

You’re getting sleeeepyy…

Stay strong. It is  important that you taste the batter while remaining aware of your surroundings. You CAN be in control of the situation–we’re not bobbing for apples here, people. Stick with a mixing spoonful. Remember that there is more to come.

Now, just pour the batter into your greased baking dish and pop it into your preheated oven.

Finish line.

Alright, you have some time to regroup.

I would recommend beginning to check on your cake after 25 minutes, and every 5-10 minutes thereafter. It can take up to 40 minutes, depending on your oven. You want to be able to stick a toothpick or fork in and have it come out with a tiny bit of dough–not completely clean.

When AREN’T sprinkles a good idea?

Once out, use the stamina you built during that re-grouping period to LET YOUR CAKE COOL FOR AT LEAST TEN MINUTES.

Not gonna lie, 10 was ALL we gave it.

We topped our slices with another version of protein frosting! This brilliant version was inspired by Carina’s fabulous mom, and I gotta say, it knocks version 1 outta the park.


  • 2/3 container Cool Whip
  • 1/2 17.6 oz container Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp sugar-free vanilla instant Jello Pudding

Stir together and MARVEL. This stuff is addicting.

Schmeared on a piece of 1-2-3 Cake?

Get my good side.

I think I blacked out. 

1-2-3 CAKE!

  • 1 box sugar-free vanilla instant pudding (we used Jello)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (we used Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Yellow mix)
  • 1 container sprinkles or add-in of your choice. White chocolate chips? Coconut? Sky’s the limit.
  • 2 cups cold milk (we used skim but anything will work except soy, which cannot be used with instant pudding)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

This cake could also be made using CHOCOLATE cake mix and chocolate instant pudding, or whatever combination your heart desires!

EASY PEASY and absurdly tasty, this cake is the perfect solution when you’re in need of a quick party dessert, or when you just need to experience the miracle of having an ENTIRE cake before YOU in a matter of minutes!

Can’t blame a guy for trying.

Now all you need are some party hats and a scary clown to complete the time warp!

Let me know if you give this incredible recipe a try, and have a great Saturday night!

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I maaade it!!! In just a few short hours I went from here

NY Sunrise

To here!

Tennessee Sun

Don’t get me wrong–for better or worse (ok, it can be a rocky relationship), I love that concrete jungle. But as I sit here typing this post with warm sunshine streaming through the windows and the sound of birds chirping for ambiance, I can say with confidence that there’s no place I’d rather be.

I can’t stay long because I want to take advantage of this time with my family, but I thought I’d leave you with a few healthy highlights from my last few days!

Greece is the one country I would visit if given the choice to go anywhere. I fell in love with Greece while watching Lena’s whirlwind Greek romance in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which takes place in a breathtaking coastal town. Am I joking? Sure as shootin’ not.

Lena + Costas 4 ever

I do have enough sense to realize that now might not be the absolute best time to show up there, so I’ll settle for a shout-out to my fave country with some delicious uses of two AWESOME Greek foods. These Mediterranean treats have taken my meals from mediocre to incredible!

Feta Cheese…on a sandwich

Simple genius

Ok ok, maybe not earthshattering, but when I saw this combination on our Seamless menu yesterday, it was a revelation to me. I’d never thought to use feta as the cheese of choice on a deli sandwich! And boy.did.it.hit.the.spot. Combined with herbed turkey breast, sliced cucumber, arugula and spicy dijon, the saltiness of the feta created a party for my tastebuds!

Feta cheese is originally made from goat or sheep’s milk originating in Greece, and it has a particularly high protein content, as well as a salty bite that give it its unique flavor. I scarfed this baby up (would not recommend), and will definitely be using feta on more sandwiches in the future (would recommend).

I apologize that the above sandwich picture looks like a sleepy frog face (or maybe I’m alone on that one?). Still getting the hang of this.


Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream

As intended, I picked up some Greek yogurt after work on Monday, and have been using it in place of sour cream on my Furritos

One forkful per bite!

Unadulterated Greek yogurt as a pinch hitter for sour cream works in almost every scenario that I can think of. I promise you won’t be able to tell the difference, and the cool creaminess paired with my spicy filling added SO MUCH to my dining experience!
Greek yogurt is easily one of the most versatile foods I have ever come across, and it is a nutritional ROCKSTAR, especially on the protein front. I am always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my diet, and Greek yogurt has often come to my aid to truly make me feel satisfied after a meal.

Greek Yogurt + Protein Powder = FROSTING

Naturally, I saved the best for last.

See him?

After enjoying the above delectable, yet slightly insubstantial salad two nights ago, I was craving a Green Monster like whoah.com. Unfortunately, I didn’t have most of the necessary ingredients on hand. Instead of admitting defeat, I got crafty! I opened my coveted Chobani and added the following to it:


  • 1/2 scoop banana-flavored Spirutein protein powder (or as much as you can get in so that the top layer of yogurt is covered)
  • 1-2 tsp agave or honey or 1/2 packet Splenda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

And then I stirred heartily but carefully so as not to spill the powder, and the ingredients slowly incorporated to create a thick, luscious buttercream frosting-like texture. Out of this world. I felt like an overworked adult naughty kid secretly spooning frosting into my mouth while mama’s not lookin’!

I cannot wait to try this with other flavors–I imagine that vanilla, chocolate and strawberry would all be bangerang!

Ok, I’m feeling a little jet-lagged from this Greek getaway (call me, Costas!), so I am going to find my parents and enjoy the rest of this relaxing, gorgeous Tennessee day!

I’ll leave you with a fantastic Interval Treadmill Workout that I conjured up yesterday in an effort to get in and out of the gym in around 30 minutes. Not only will this workout leave you with a nice sweaty glaze, the varied speeds and inclines made the time go by in a snap!

Make the Time Fly Interval Treadmill Blast

Minute Speed Incline
0-3:00 4.8 3.5
3:00-5:50 7.6 0
5:50-6:00 8.4 0
6:00-9:00 4.6 5.5
9:00-11:50 7.4 1
11:50-12:00 8.4 1
12:00-15:00 4.4 7.5
15:00-17:50 7.2 2
17:50-18:00 8.2 2
18:00-21:00 4.2 8.5
21:00-23:50 7.4 1
23:50-24:00 8.4 1
24:00-27:00 4 9.5
27:00-29:50 7.6 0
29:50-30:00 8.4 0

End this workout with about a 3-5 minute cool-down walk on the treadmill.

I love interval/incline workouts like this, because as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not a huge fan of intense and long-distance running for my body. I can do the above blast and feel like I really got my endorphins on, but it only consists of twelve minutes of actual running. Let me know if you give it a try!

Heading out to soak up some Dixieland Delight!

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Despite the dreary weather, I’ve managed to have a lovely day so far! I snapped a photo on my walk to the subway–I don’t know what these flowers are called but they’re gorgeous. Any blossoms in early April set my heart aflutter with excitement for the coming Spring!

I met my friend Maria bright and early at Peels, one of my absolute favorite restaurants in the city.

As a southern girl, I find the cozy ambiance and sophisticated spin on comfort food very aPEELing (see what I did there?).

The 2nd floor of Peels is basically my dream kitchen

Plus, everything I’ve tried there is delicious! For breakfast, I particularly love their Bircher Muesli: “Cider and Yogurt-Soaked Oats, fruit, toasted seeds.”  I adore ‘Overnight Oats‘, which I discovered through Kath’s blog, and this dish is basically an amped-up version of overnight oats. Each serving of thick, creamy oaty (Greek?) yogurt comes with two generous layers of of sunflower seeds, topped with a handful of seasonably-fresh fruit and a dollop of what must be house-made jam. This breakfast is surprisingly filling, and I find myself CRAVING it during the week. Re-creating this at home is on my to-do list!

My muesli today included a selection of citrus fruit slices and what tasted like a mixed-berry jam. SO good!

Maria ordered one of their signature ‘Build-A-Biscuits’ with eggs, sausage and cheddar. Also super yummy! I highly suggest hitting up Peels if you live in the city. Note: Reservations for Saturday and Sunday Brunch are taken only for parties of six of more guests.
Walk-in’s are encouraged at any time. They only seat complete parties on a first come, first serve basis (read–come early).

Maria and I had a great time catching up. We stayed at our table for a while after we were finished, which was clearly frustrating to our waitress. I generally think it’s rude when people abuse their right to stay at a table after a meal, but Maria and I rarely see each other and wanted to soak up every minute before she had to leave for work. We tipped well!

After Peels, I headed over to the Whole Foods in Union Square to pick up a bag of one of my favorite snacks–unsulphured dried apricots.

My understanding is that unsulphured dried apricots are simply dried apricots that have no additives whatsoever. The neon-orange (when is neon food ever a good thing?) ones that you usually see have had sulphites added to them that help preserve their color.

Less nutritious AND blinding

Not only are unsulphured apricots preservative-free, I personally think they taste a million times better. Unfortunately, the only place I’ve been able to find the ‘good ones’ is the bulk section at Whole Foods (Union Square and Chelsea locations, that I know of). I’ve stumbled upon one or two other health food stores that carry them, but they’ve been overly-dried and tough. The Whole Foods ones are large and juicy, just the way I like ’em! 🙂

While at WF, I also snagged a Poland Spring flavored sparkling water.

I LOVE flavored sparkling water/sparkling water in general and would drink it completely in place of still water if I could afford it. WF sells these babies for 79c each, which seems like a pretty good deal to me, so I usually treat myself to them when I’m there. My fave flavor is the Raspberry Lime, pictured above, but today’s selection was slim pickins’ so I had a Mandarin Orange. Still tasty.

I decided to stay at WF and read for a while before heading uptown. I’m currently reading An Island at the Center of the World, which is fascinating so far. I will post more on this book when I’ve finished it!

I headed home around noon, tummy grumbling for lunch, and I made myself an fab-u-lous Green Monster Smoothie.

Using frozen bananas gives it that thick, spoonable texture

I just recently got on the Green Monster train and I’m never looking back. I like my veggies, but let’s be honest–I’d take a peanut butter banana smoothie over them any day.  Now I can have the best of both worlds! You TRULY CANNOT taste the spinach, I promise.

Today’s Green Monster included:

  • 1 scoop banana-flavored Spirutein (a plant-based protein powder that tastes great and comes in a variety of flavors)
  • 1 tbs Trader Joe’s chunky peanut butter
  • 1 frozen banana, pre-cut, peeled and baggied to make life easier
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 c Fage plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbs flax meal
  • 3 ice cubes
  • dash of cinnamon
  • several LARGE handfuls of spinach

Then I just stuffed it all in my shoddy but still kickin’ $20 Hamilton Beach Blender and blended away! I cannot get enough of these smoothies, honestly, despite the chilly weather. I may or may not have gotten under the covers to take this one down…

I also tried a few pieces of a Trader Joe’s chocolate bar that I picked up last weekend. Unlike the other chocolate products I’ve tried from TJs, this one was disappointing :(.


Still ate the portion I broke off (hello chocolate is chocolate), but might try to find a recipe to use the rest of the bar in, since it’s not great on its own. I am, however, a huge fan of  TJs 72% Dark Chocolate Pound Plus bar.


Now I’m off to run some errands, get in a little cardio and get ready for dinner tonight with my friend Christina! We’re going to Bareburger, which gets rave reviews. A really good burger is definitely a top five savory meal for me, but I am picky about them. Look forward to seeing how Bareburger stacks up!

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

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