A few things you may not know: we have ancient herdsmen in the Middle East to thank for accidentally creating yogurt, Danone (aka Dannon) debuted as the first yogurt factory in the world in France in 1932, and the Turks have been writing about the health benefits of yogurt since the 11th century.

History, flavor, and nutrient-rich – it’s no wonder store shelves are brimming with every type of yogurt you can imagine. To reap the health benefits, you’ve probably heard the tried and true advice: choose a reduced-fat, plain, unsweetened option and jazz it up with your own toppings (fruit, nuts, spices, etc.). If we take cues from our ancestors, modern day science, and creative minds in the culinary nutrition world – we’ll see that the versatility of yogurt goes beyond the typical breakfast bowl or mid-day snack.

7 Unexpected Uses for Yogurt

A Perfect Marinade

Yogurt is a mildly acidic food with a pH of around 4 to 5, making it an ideal meat marinade. Lactic acid functions as a tenderizer and higher fat varieties lock in moisture. Try this Turmeric Yogurt Chicken recipe, created by Lindsay Livingston, RD of The Lean Green Bean.

7 Unexpected Uses for Yogurt

That Murky Liquid on Top…

It’s actually acid whey – a byproduct of yogurt making that contains protein, vitamins, and minerals. Instead of pouring it down the drain, mix it right back into your yogurt or save it to add to smoothies, to pickle or ferment vegetables, or to fertilize your garden.

7 Unexpected Uses for Yogurt

Sunburn Relief

There are recommendations all over the Internet to use yogurt for sunburn relief, but unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of scientific evidence to back it up. The cool temperature of the yogurt may be effective at temporarily alleviating pain associated with sunburn, but as of now there’s no proof that it’s any more effective than a cool cloth or shower!

Good for Your Skin?

Yogurt facial masks seem to be trending, with potential anti-aging and anti-acne benefits linked to the probiotics and fat content of yogurt. Again, the science is very limited so you’ll want to check with your dermatologist first.

7 Unexpected Uses for Yogurt

DIY Dressings & Dips

Use yogurt as a nutritious base for DIY dressings and dips. Try this Yogurt Honey Lime Dressing or Cucumber Yogurt Garlic Sauce, both courtesy of Anne Mauney, MPH, RD of fannetastic food.

Frozen Yogurt-Covered “fill in the blank”

I’m a big fan of homemade yogurt-covered fruit, pretzels, nuts, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and beyond. It’s easy as 1-2-3: Dip your chosen food in your yogurt of choice, place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, and freeze!     

Better Baked Goods

Subbing in yogurt for butter in baked goods can reduce the saturated fat content and add in some extra vitamins and minerals (although yogurt’s probiotics won’t survive baking). If a recipe includes butter, replace half of it with half as much plain, low fat yogurt. For example, if a recipe calls for a cup of butter, replace a ½ cup with a ¼ cup yogurt. Just remember, even baked goods made with yogurt should be considered treats – eaten and thoroughly enjoyed in moderation.

Share you favorite uses for yogurt in the comments section!

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