In many ways, a bowl of yogurt is a near-perfect snack. Each spoonful can provide plenty of muscle-building protein, bone-strengthening calcium and probiotics—friendly critters shown to help athletes improve their digestive and immune health. Choose Greek-style or up-and-coming Icelandic Skyr and you’ll net an even bigger protein windfall. These creative, nutritious and tasty ways to upgrade your next bowl of yogurt are a worthy of a resounding “Opa!”
Sweet nothings: Flavored yogurts typically have two to three times as much sugar as plain versions. Instead of relying on nutritionally void sugar for flavor, use these combinations to make plain yogurt no longer a bore.
The green fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) is good for much more than guacamole. Add cubes of creamy avocado to a bowl of cultured dairy and you’ll benefit from a big-time nutritional boost, including plenty of heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber and range of vitamins and minerals including folate, bone-building vitamin K and potassium. The combination of healthy fats and fiber will make your yogurt bowl even more of a hunger-quelling snack.
Top gun: Adorn yogurt with avocado cubes, chopped mango and a drizzle of local honey.
Habit-forming goldenberries are native to South America and burst in your mouth with a sweet and tart citrusy flavor unmatched by any other of its dried fruit counterparts. Occasionally, you can find fresh goldenberries in supermarkets, but the delicate fruit is most often dried for transportation purposes. Nutritionally, goldenberries supply notable amounts of vitamin A to help fortify your immune system. Science is young, but preliminary research suggests the flavor bombs are also a source of withanolides, steroid like substances suspected to have anti-cancer activity. Look for the parched berries in well-stocked health food shops or bulk stores. Navitas Naturals is a reliable brand.
Top gun: Sprinkle a handful of goldenberries on yogurt along with chopped unsalted roasted cashews.
This quintessential hippie food can add great textural contrast to spoonfuls of yogurt. Featuring oats and other add-ins like nuts, seeds and dried fruits, muesli is an uncooked cereal developed by a Swiss physician around 1900. The beauty of muesli is that it’s often looser in consistency than granola (and, in turn, better to spread over yogurt) and it’s easier to find options with less, if any, added sugar. That lets you take better advantage of its nutritional perks such as fiber and body-friendly fats. The combination of the carbs in muesli and protein in yogurt makes this dynamic duo a standout post-training nosh option. You can even mix the muesli with yogurt and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight—a think-ahead move that will help soften the grains. Seven Sundays has several tasty flavors including Cocoa & Coconut Muesli and their unsweetened Bircher Muesli (Apple Cinnamon).
Top gun: Pour a layer of muesli on yogurt and top with a generous scattering of raspberries.
Here’s how to give your bowl of yogurt a tropical spin. Paleo-friendly coconut chips are gleaned from the copra, or meat of the coconut, which is dried and then roasted. The resulting sweet, nutty pieces of coconut are a perfect pairing for tangy yogurt—great on salads, oatmeal and ice-cream, too. Most people are surprised to learn that coconut is a good source of fiber for better blood sugar regulation and appetite control. Though fatty by nature, the unique type of medium-chain saturated fats in coconut seem to have a neutral impact on heart health. Several brands of coconut chips are now on the market, but you can’t go wrong by stocking up on a few bags of Dang Toasted Coconut Chips.
Top gun: Make yogurt better by topping with a couple tablespoons of coconut chips, chopped pistachios and diced pineapple.
Mercifully, hemp foods have moved past the pot puns and into the mainstream. Also called hemp hearts, these seeds are harvested from the hearty hemp plant and will infuse a bowl of yogurt with a palate-pleasing nutty taste that is reminiscent of pine nuts and sunflower seeds. They have also gained recognition for possessing plenty of nutritional highlights, most notably high amounts of protein—about 10 grams in a 3 tablespoon serving. Active bodies will also benefit from a dose of omega-3 fats, energy-boosting iron and magnesium needed for proper muscle functioning. Look out for packages of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts in health food shops and even larger supermarkets.
Top gun: Dust yogurt with a generous amount of hemp seeds and then add blueberries and cacao nibs.
Culinary oils shouldn’t only be relegated to salad dressings. Nut-based ones like pecan can add a toasty, nutty element to a heap of yogurt. A slick of pecan oil will also provide vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that can help accelerate muscle recovery in response to frequent swims, runs and bike rides. Just go easy with how much you pour on since pecan, like all oils, is calorie-dense. Try the La Tourangelle Roasted Pecan oil, which hails from California nuts that are expeller-pressed from maximum flavor and nutrition.
Top gun: Place slices of apple or orange segments on yogurt and add a drizzle of pecan oil.