When I was a kid growing up on the dry, dusty plains of the Texas Panhandle, in the 1960s and 1970s, yogurt seemed to me an element of counterculture and hippies…something found in an ashram as one contemplated free love (especially with that blonde sitting in the next row over in school). Now, as a grown man working in the dry, dusty basin of the Arabian Desert, yogurt has taken on a whole new identity – one which also involves love – the love of flavor!
Yogurt may be the most flexible food available. I guess, if you’re lactose intolerant, it might be a problem (there is Lactaid, though), but for the rest of us, yogurt is about as utilitarian as you can get. Even forgoing full-fat yogurt for its fat-free cousin does not result in any lessening of its utility. If anything, it improves it. Dips, dressings, cereal host…is there anything this food cannot do?
When I started back on Weight Watchers Online in December 2008, I started eating breakfast again. Although traditionally my weakest meal of the day (since I was a kid), breakfast is key to a well-balanced, healthy eating lifestyle – certainly if one is trying to drop a bunch of weight. I eat on the go, so cooking in the morning is not a good option. Stopping somewhere to pick up something in the morning is also not a good option due to the fat content found in most fast food. So, I settled on cereal. Whole grain cereal is an excellent choice in the morning – filling, a great source of fiber, and a good way to keep one’s blood sugar balanced throughout most of the morning. But, milk was a problem. I had no container particularly suited to going back and forth from apartment to work, nor was keeping it in the fridge at work a good option. So, I decided on yogurt – a tremendous source of calcium and good stomach flora.
Yogurt is available everywhere, in every form, throughout the Middle East. The stuff is a staple here, much more so than in the USA, where it has gained a foothold over the last several years. Never big on its flavor, I opted for yogurt with fruit at first. That lasted for a couple of months. But, after some study, I realized I got more bang for my buck if I used plain yogurt. I could add fruit if I wanted. Or, I could make a dressing or dip with it. Or, I could use it in various Indian dishes. The flexibility totally became real to me. Now, it’s one of the cheapest, most used food choices I buy each week at the grocery store.
Tonight, I made an awesome garlic, onion, and dill dip. A teaspoon of each, salt and pepper to taste, and some crudités – and what an excellent, minimum calorie, very healthy dinner! Pour it over a salad, and the dip becomes a salad dressing. I mix it with cinnamon and cereal or oatmeal each morning – awesome way to eat cereal or oatmeal. And, as I alluded to, I often mix it with some vegetables and curry to create some wonderful Indian dishes. Seriously, I can think of few foods more flexible.
Yogurt. It does a body good. Much more so than dust and heat. Not as dangerous as free love.