Not only is yoghurt delicious, but it also contains vitamins and minerals, is high in protein and can be a healthy substitute or addition to other foods.
Yoghurt is milk fermented by bacterial action. If has a slightly lower sugar content than the milk from which it is made, and is an excellent source of protein. This is because the protein in yoghurt is more finely divided than in milk, and therefore more easily digestible. In addition, yoghurt contains high concentrations of vitamins A and D, essential for healthy teeth, skin and bones.
It is also a good source of the B vitamin riboflavin, a nerve strengthener, and of the bone-enriching mineral calcium.
The often-exaggerated claims made for yoghurt stem from the action of the bacteria it contains. In the human intestinal tract, yoghurt bacteria produce lactic acid, which controls, and in some cases can destroy, putrefying bacteria
If not eliminated, these bacteria can cause discomfort, indigestion, and sometimes illness. Therefore, yoghurt is often recommended as an antidote for digestive problems. It can also be useful in combatting the effects of antibiotics, which kills off the healthy bacteria in the intestines.
However, the main value of yoghurt is as a cheap source of protein and as a healthier alternative to other foods. It contains all the goodness of dairy produce without the drawbacks. For medical opinion has now generally concluded that excessive consumption of dairy foods is probably a major factor in heart disease. The saturated fats they contain clog up the arteries carrying blood to the heart. Yoghurt, especially the varieties made with low-fat milk, provides a good low-fat alternative to cream, butter and milk.
Yoghurt can be substituted directly for cream of soured cream in many recipes. Try it, for example, in beef stroganoff, or instead of butter on baked potatoes and other vegetables. It also makes an excellent salad dressing, ideal for dieters because it is much lower in calories than oil. It can be added to sauces and used instead of milk on cereals or muesli. Mixed with wheat germ and /or fresh or dried fruit, it makes a good energy-giving snack or dessert, nutritionally richer than cakes and biscuits. A number of health food cookery books contain recipes for cakes and biscuits that substitute yoghurt for butter.
Many commercial types of yoghurt contain rennet or other thickeners, and the fruit varieties very often have preservatives and added sweeteners, so if you want to be sure of getting full food value from yoghurt, the best way is to make it yourself. It is cheap and easy to make, and home preparation ensures that you always have a fresh, adequate supply. If you want to use yoghurt as an aid to a calorie-controlled diet, you should make it with low-fat dried milk instead of ordinary milk. Again, many cookery books contain a basic yoghurt recipe.
Once you have mastered the technique, you can then go onto making yoghurt cheese - a light, creamy white cheese, using yoghurt and salt, or a low-fat cheese, using low-fat dried milk.