This is the second post in a 2 part series on my number 1 healthy eating hack.
For those of you visiting for the first time, check out Healthy Eating Hacks: Greek Cream Cheese.
In the first post, I raved about one of my favorite new healthy food find, Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese. Welcome to Part 2: the homemade edition.
I have been using Greek yogurt cream cheese as a healthy alternative to the real thing for quite some time. When I found out I could make my own, I couldn’t get to the store fast enough to pick up a new large container of Greek yogurt (or in this case send the hubby after it).
I couldn’t wait to see if this would actually work.
Greek yogurt is one of my favorite Go-To options for healthy eating.
You can eat it plain with berries and honey, or add it to one of your favorite recipes for added creaminess.
I find that I can generally substitute it for mayo, cream, and sour cream in most recipes, especially dips and sauces. My general rule of thumb is start by substituting half the amount and go from there. Some recipes are more forgiving than others so it takes some trial.
What is Greek Yogurt?
Greek yogurt is termed “Greek” when the liquid (whey) has been strained. Ridding the yogurt of its whey results in a thicker and creamier consistency.
Is Greek Yogurt Healthy?
Greek yogurt has many health benefits. Here are just a few:
On average, Greek yogurt has 3-4 times the amount of protein than regular yogurt.
Live Active Cultures (probiotics)
Probiotics are basically the “good” kind of bacteria that is needed for gastrointestinal health. There does seem to be some differing opinions on the true benefit of probiotics, but in general, it is considered to be a good thing.
Potassium, Calcium, Vitamin D, phosphorus, Riboflavin, and Vitamins B5 and B12 are all usually found in Greek yogurt. The amounts can vary by brand due to different processing methods so make sure you are checking your labels.
This is only the case if you are using plain yogurt, not the sweetened fruit variety.
Other Health Benefits
There are a number of health claims associated with Greek Yogurt, these are just a few:
- Prevents high blood pressure
- Improved immune response
- Workout recovery
- Dental health
- Builds muscle mass
- Bone health
- Increased metabolism
- Balanced blood sugars
Phew! With all of these potential benefits, why would we not want to add a little extra into out diet?
The process of creating Greek yogurt cream cheese is extremely simple, but it is not fast. You will need to plan ahead.
What is Greek cream cheese?
Greek cream cheese is a Greek yogurt that has had the excess moisture strained out creating a thick, cream cheese like spread.
1 medium strainer
1 large 32 ounce container of plain greek yogurt.
large jar or can
1 large bowl
How to make Greek cream cheese?
First, line a medium strainer with cheese cloth. The strainer needs to be large enough to hold the entire 32 once carton of Greek Yogurt. Don’t have 32 ounce of Greek Yogurt? No problem, you can use whatever amount you desire, but I have a feeling you will wish you had more if you go with a smaller quantity.
Leave enough cheese cloth overhang to cover the top.
Cover the top of the Greek yogurt.
Next, place a heavy jar or can on top. Place the strainer with the Greek yogurt and jar into a larger bowl. This will catch the excess liquid as it strains and prevent a mess in your refrigerator.
I don’t recommend forgetting this step!
Place into the refrigerator for 2-3 days, draining the liquid as needed. I drained mine one time per day. After 2-3 days, unwrap the Greek Cream Cheese from the cheesecloth. It should be thick and hold its shape. Mold into desired form. I had a small round bowl that I used to form it into a cheese round.
Are you ready for this???
It totally worked!!! I could’t believe it. It felt a little like Christmas morning.
Now, what to use it with?
I started by spreading it on a bagel. Delicious. Smooth with a mild tang.
Then I remembered the smoked salmon I still had in the fridge from Part 1. So I layered the greek yogurt cream cheese on a whole wheat cracker with the smoked salmon and fresh herbs from the garden. Yes, it’s the end of October in Missouri and I still have chives, dill, parsley, and rosemary galore.
I also had some fresh figs from the fig tree ready to be picked. Am I in Missouri or the Mediterranean? Figs, walnuts, honey, and Greek cream cheese. It was phenomenal.
What is the difference between homemade Greek cream cheese and store bought Greek cream cheese
So how did the homemade compare to the store bought?
First of all, they were both excellent, but they are very different from one another.
The store bought Greek yogurt Cream cheese looks and tastes like cream cheese. I’m telling you, it’s amazing.
The homemade version Has a delightful tang and texture that reminds me more of Goat cheese. I Took some of this to my foodie friend, Cassie, and she described it a cross between cream cheese and goat cheese. Perfect description.
From a health stand point, they are both excellent options. the store bought does have some added ingredients, whereas the homemade is 100% Greek yogurt.
In summary, which one would I choose?
Even though they are both considered Greek cream cheese, they are very different from one another.
If you are looking for a healthy alternative to real cream cheese, then I would choose the store bought.
However, if you are looking for a healthy alternative to a more artisan type cheese, like goat cheese, then I would choose the homemade.
Either way, you really can’t go wrong. It all comes down to personal preference.
Homemade Greek Cream Cheese
- 1 medium strainer
- 1 large, heavy jar filled with liquid (like a jar of pickles)
- 1 large bowl
- cheese cloth
- 32 oz plain Greek yogurt
- Set a medium strainer in a large bowl. Make sure the bottom of the strainer is not touching the bottom of the bowl.
- Fold the cheese cloth so it is several layers thick.
- Place the cheese cloth in the strainer with the edges hanging over the edge.
- Pour the Greek yogurt over the top of the cheese cloth and fold the edges of the cheese cloth over the top of the Greek yogurt.
- Place the pickle jar on top of the cheese cloth encased Greek yogurt and press down firmly to squeeze out excess liquid.
- Place in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, draining the liquid as needed.
- After 2-3 days, unwrap the Greek yogurt cream cheese.
- Serve as is or press into a mold to a more sophisticated presentation.
- Store in the refrigerator, covered for up to one week.