Friday, June 10, 2011

delightful dinner (or dessert)

As I relax from my day and catch up on the early evening news, I typically indulge in this delicious delight.  I prepare a bowl of various yogurts, usually Zdan plain and Dannon vanilla with live probiotic cultures.  The Zdan has a thicker consistency (like Greek yogurt) and mixed with the Dannon, it is perfect for me.  Yogurt can be used in so many recipes and to me it is such a fascinating diary product, so I decided to do a little research and share. 

Yogurt is derived from Turkish yoghurt and defined as to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken.  There is evidence of cultured milk products in cultures as far back as 2000 BC. The earliest yogurt was probably fermented spontaneously, perhaps by wild bacteria residing inside goatskin bags used for transportation. In the early 1800s, men used yogurt to clean their goats and sheep. Many women also used yogurt to wash their bodies and hair. Yogurt was the best known cleaning agent at the time.
In the records of the ancient culture of Indo-Iranians (Iran and India), yogurt is mentioned by 500 BC. In this record the combination of yogurt and honey is called "the food of the gods". Persian traditions hold that "Abraham owed his fecundity and longevity to the regular ingestion of yogurt."
The oldest writings mentioning yogurt are attributed to Pliny the Elder, who remarked that certain nomadic tribes knew how "to thicken the milk into a substance with an agreeable acidity". The use of yogurt by medieval Turks is recorded in the books written in the 11th century. Both texts mention the word "yoghurt" in different sections and describe its use by nomadic Turks. An early account of a European encounter with yogurt occurs in French clinical history: Francis I suffered from a severe diarrhea which no French doctor could cure. His ally sent a doctor, who allegedly cured the patient with yoghurt. Being grateful, the French king spread around the information about the food which had cured him.
Yogurt 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 consume yogurt without ill effects, because much of the lactose in the milk precursor is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial culture. Yogurt containing live cultures is sometimes used in an attempt to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity (11 January 2005) also found that the consumption of low-fat yogurt can promote weight loss, especially due to the calcium in yogurt.
Greek yogurt is a type of yogurt that is celebrated for its very thick and creamy texture. The process for making it includes extra steps that result in its thickness. It has about the same creamy texture as sour cream, and provides an excellent substitute. It has recently become more increasingly available in the US, because the taste and the lack of bitterness make it a wonderful treat. Typical Greek yogurt made in Greece may use either sheep or cow’s milk. Imports to the US tend to stick with cow’s milk variants, since sheep’s milk has a tangier taste and may be disliked by those unfamiliar to it. Most US made versions of Greek yogurt use only cow’s milk. The principle difference in creating Greek yogurt is that after the milk is heated and cultured, it is allowed to sit in muslin or cheesecloth bags, so that the whey filters out of the yogurt. You’ll note that some yogurts have an almost runny texture, or have liquid on the top when you open them. Greek yogurts don’t have this liquid because of the straining process.

Here are my favorite ingredients.  You can include as much or as little as you desire and I usually make a batch and eat it in two days' increments. 
1 cup Zdan yogurt
1 cup Dannon yogurt
(vanilla, lemon, strawberry)
1 cup sliced assorted fruits
(blueberry, strawberry, apricot, clementine, raspberry, nectarine)
1 cup granola
Lightly blend ingredients with a spoon.  Add a squirt of whipped cream on top.  Sprinkle wheat germ, cocoa and chopped nuts on top. 
You can be creative and serve in a tall glass or vary your ingredients depending on your taste.  You don't need the whipped cream to enjoy the treat, but if you want to feel like it is an indulgence, go for it.  I find the seasonal fruits taste better and I have been adding watermelon to the mix for variety ~  whatever your heart desires; and this can be a heart~healthy habitual dish.  Just writing about it makes me drool. 
Bon appetit! xo