5 Ways to Wake Up Your Yogurt Routine

Because it's time to let it out of the granola ghetto.

Delicious and healthful, yogurt is a true kitchen superstar—but down a bowl everyday at breakfast, and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Ready to retire that trusty tub of vanilla? We asked Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of the new cookbook Yogurt Culture, for some strategies that are guaranteed to freshen up your yogurt game. 

1

Embrace the savory.

tomato-avocado-cucumber-salad
Photo by Ellen Silverman

In Turkey, Syria, and across the Near East, yogurt is a staple of the tablebut unlike in the U.S., it is paired with savory toppings as often as sweet ones. Try making homemade labneh, a Middle Eastern “yogurt cheese,” by straining salted whole milk Greek yogurt through a cheesecloth until it is thick and spreadable—then use it as a stuffing for sweet, grilled peppers or as a smear for a sesame seed bagel sprinkled with fresh chives. Or, take an even simpler approach, adding ripe summer tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and a drizzle of olive oil to a bowl of plain Greek yogurt for a dish, says Sternman Rule, whose “clean flavors shine at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.” (Get her recipe for Yogurt with Tomato, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad.)

2

Bake it in.

Tangy yogurt can be a baker’s secret weapon. Sternman Rule suggests stirring some into the batter for muffins or scones, or, when you’re craving pancakes, adding a scoop of yogurt in place of buttermilk. That’s because, like sour cream and buttermilk, yogurt’s natural acidity gives a natural lift to baked goods leavened with baking powder—and its creamy body adds a welcome bit of moisture and tenderness to boot.

3

Try new toppings.

Many of the flavored yogurts lining supermarket shelves—studded with fillings, swirled with jelly, or sprinkled with cookie crumbs—are packed with the same amount of sugar (or more!) as some candy bars. “Sugar comes in so many different forms and under so many names that people may not realize that multiple things in an ingredient list can all be sugars,” says Sternman Rule. “So, it’s important to just look at the number of grams on the label.” Her solution? If you want to add some sweetness to your bowl, try making your own toppings and controlling the portions yourself. Even the most fuss-free methods—like tossing blueberries with a spoonful of sugar, spreading them on a baking sheet, and roasting them until they soften and burst, or scattering sliced apricot halves with brown sugar and broiling them until caramelized and yielding—can yield spectacular results. (Get Sternman Rule’s recipes for Strawberry Rhubarb Compote and Burnt Sugar Apricot Halves.)



4

Dip, sip, or drizzle.

Put down that spoon. It's easy to transform a ho-hum crudité platter into a main course when you pair sliced veggies with a creamy, tart yogurt-based twist on spinach dip or a briny, olive- and pesto-flecked shmear. Bored by the same old smoothies? Try stirring yogurt into a rich, chilled soup instead—or whisk it into a creamy dressing for salad (hello, ranch!) or sliced fruit. (Get Sternman Rule’s recipe for Orange Blossom Cantaloupe.)

5

Think outside the cow.

Not long ago shoppers had to haunt hippie health food stores or exotic international markets to find sheep or goats milk yogurts—but nowadays it’s not uncommon to find them both in the dairy aisles of mainstream supermarkets. Obviously, that’s good news for yogurt lovers with an intolerance to cow’s milk, says Sternman Rule—but it’s also a boon for anyone who likes their light body and delicate flavor, which shine in simple smoothies or classic desserts like panna cotta or cheesecake.