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Go Greek with simple substitutions

June is Dairy Month, a time to celebrate the many health and taste benefits dairy delivers and thank the farmers that produce them.

One dairy food that has soared in popularity is yogurt. In my five years as a supermarket dietitian, Greek yogurt has substantially taken over regular yogurt in space and popularity.

Yogurt has always been an iconic health food because of its live and active cultures, which help with digestive health and immunity. But did you know yogurt is an excellent source of protein to keep you full and maintain muscles? Or that it contains calcium for healthy bones and potassium for healthy blood pressure? It's also a great choice for people with lactose intolerance.

Why all the growth of Greek yogurt? The biggest reason is that it has twice the protein content of regular yogurt. But not all Greek yogurts are created equal, so be sure to check the label and look for 14 grams of protein per serving.

Greek yogurt is just a style of yogurt making — straining out the liquid whey and some natural milk sugar, lactose, which makes it usually lower in carbohydrates. This process gives it a creamier and thicker texture, making it a great substitute for the fat in some recipes.

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Here are a few exchanges you can make in the kitchen:

1 cup yogurt instead of 1 cup sour cream saves 392 calories.

1 cup yogurt instead of 1 cup mayonnaise saves 1,334 calories.

1 cup yogurt instead of 1 cup cream cheese saves 710 calories.

1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup yogurt instead of 1 cup butter saves 789 calories.

3/4 cup yogurt instead of 1 cup oil saves 1,852 calories.

Use these simple swaps in a variety of recipes from baked goods to dips and salads

Here are my favorite ways to use yogurt at meals:

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• Use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to top tacos, baked potatoes and chili.

• Try mixing two cups of Greek yogurt with a packet of dry ranch dressing for a quick veggie dip.

• Experiment with flavors, too. Replacing sour cream with lemon yogurt in a cherry or blueberry coffeecake makes a great combination.

• Cool off on hot summer days by whipping up a refreshing smoothie or layering fruit and yogurt in a bowl as a parfait.

• Serve your salads with yogurt – like the recipe below.

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