Health Foods 101: Icelandic Yogurt
Everything you need to know about this versatile dairy product. Plus, a delicious chicken salad recipe.
Everyone wants to eat healthy, but not everyone knows where to start. Whether you're trying to lose a few pounds or you're looking for an extra energy boost, food is the foundation for positive results. To help you navigate the grocery aisles, we're starting Health Foods 101. We'll be breaking down popular ingredients, finding out why they're good for you and learning how to eat them with the help of experts.
Up this week: Icelandic yogurt. We chatted with clinical nutritionist Nicolette Pace, the founder and president of NutriSource Inc. Medical Nutrition & Weight Loss Center, and experts at Smári Organics.
What it is:
Icelandic yogurt, or skyr, is a strained yogurt similar to Greek yogurt. The difference is that it takes two to three cups of milk make a cup of Greek yogurt versus four cups for Icelandic yogurt, so there's a higher protein content. The consistency is extremely thick and creamy with a hint of natural sweetness.
Its nutritional value:
"If we take a lesson from Nordic countries where a stark contrast in obesity rates are observed, we'll see that skyr is among the top food choices of natives," Pace said. She added that in addition to protein, it is rich in calcium, insulating nourishing fats, probiotics and vitamins. A single serving of plain Icelandic yogurt contains only 80 calories, 15 grams of protein and little sugar.
Health benefits it yields:
"The probiotic cultures found in skyr involve several strains that can promote good health via improved digestion and absorption of nutrients, like bone strengthening minerals such as calcium and magnesium, as well as creation of vitamins K and B," Pace explained. Those probiotics help improve immunity, condition skin from within and promote a natural defense against premature aging by working against inflammation. Live active cultures, such as those in skyr, may help you fight fat by regulating your appetite and fighting cravings. Plus, that high protein content keeps you full for much longer.
How you eat it:
Aside from eating it alone, Icelandic yogurt is surprisingly versatile. It can be used as a substitute for butter, sour cream, cream cheese and heavy cream. Spread it on bagels, waffles, tacos—you name it.
How much you should eat:
"Studies have shown that as little as 6 oz of healthy yogurt, three times a week can confer multiple health benefits and prevent high blood pressure," Pace said,"In a 15 year study [at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research] of over 2,000 persons they found that people who ate yogurt long term were less likely to develop high blood pressure and on average had lower systolic blood pressure than those who didn’t eat yogurt."
Recipe to Try: Simple Chicken Salad
Now that you've learned the basics and benefits of Icelandic yogurt, try out this creative use for the treat courtesy of Smári Organics.
Total Time: 25 minutes
4 cups (540g) cooked chicken breast or leg (cut into 3/4 inch pieces)
1 (35g) celery stalk (small dice)
1/4 cup parsley (finely chopped)
1/4 cup chervil or tarragon (finely chopped)
3 (40g) scallions (trimmed and thinly sliced)
12 oz (340g) Pure Smári Nonfat
1/4 cup (237ml) milk
2 teaspoons (14g) Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons (15ml) lemon juice
In a medium bowl combine chicken, parsley, chervil or tarragon and scallions. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.
In a small mixing bowl combine yogurt, mustard and lemon juice. Mix until thoroughly combined. Fold the yogurt mixture into the chicken. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on a bed of bib lettuce with avocado slices or as a sandwich with whole grain bread, tomato and garden lettuce. This simple recipe is a great way to use up your roasted chicken from dinner the night before!