These easy and elegant yogurt cups with balsamic macerated strawberries and toasted almonds make a perfect probiotic rich snack!
One of the coolest things about being a dietitian is that there’s always more to learn. As someone who wishes professional student was a legitimate career option, this is definitely a positive. Nutrition is a relatively recent field of science compared to things like biology, physics and medicine. We’re constantly learning new things, hence the rapidly changing headlines.
If there’s one area of nutrition that my understanding of has completely transformed since graduation (which although I’m feeling ancient since my birthday last week, really wasn’t that long ago), it’s how the gut bacteria affects health. When I was in school, Activia yogurt came out and probiotics were just becoming mainstream. I thought of probiotics as being useful for people with digestive problems, but not much else. Since then, research has shown your gut microbiota has an effect on everything from your risk of chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, to your weight and even your mood!
When you think about it, there is more bacteria in the gut than there are cells in the body. Other than the skin, the gut is the only barrier between the inside and the outside. But the skin is a fairly impermeable barrier – in the gut, the outside essentially comes inside through digestion. There’s also a vast network of nervous system cells in the gut called the enteric nervous system. When you start to think of it’s complexity and many roles, it makes sense that the bacteria it contains are more than passive standbys.
To keep your gut bacteria happy, keep it well fed! Fiber is its favorite food, so eat plenty of plants. And don’t forget to give it company by eating probiotic rich foods on the regular.
While I do recommend probiotic supplements for specific therapeutic needs to various clients, I prefer fermented or cultured foods over probiotics for the most part. Studies have shown many probiotic supplements contain mostly dead bacteria and it has a hard time reaching the gut through the acidic stomach environment. Food provides a protective layer and has a much wider variety of strains than most probiotics.
Fermented relishes, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi are all wonderful sources of probiotics, but for the typical eater, these aren’t foods they consume or purchase for daily eating. Yogurt is inexpensive, easy to find and most people enjoy it!
I love to eat yogurt for a breakfast or snack and these yogurt cups, topped with seasonal strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and honey, would be delicious for either. The combination might sound odd, but strawberries with balsamic is a classic pairing. Macerate means simply to soak fruit in liquids and a little sugar to soften - the longer it sits, the softer it gets so feel free to make a big batch of macerated strawberries to last the week. I used Siggis skyr (disclosure: I’m a Siggis ambassador) and I love it’s extra creamy consistency for this, but feel free to use any type you like! Both plain yogurt or a lower sugar vanilla are tasty!
Fun facts on yogurt:
- If you can, look for yogurt made from grassfed milk, which has higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Organic yogurt is made from cows that spent more time munching on grass, so that's great too!
- Yogurt is a very good source of calcium. Although strained yogurt is higher in protein, unstained yogurt is higher in calcium because much of the mineral is found in the whey, which is the liquid that's strained out.
- A cup of yogurt contains about 40% daily needs for B12, a vitamin that is of concern in vegetarian diets, making yogurt a great meatless protein option.
- Yogurt contains higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid than milk, which is a type of fatty acid that may help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
- The probiotics in yogurt can help lower cholesterol, improve immunity and digestion, and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Check out these easy and elegant yogurt cups with balsamic macerated strawberries via @RHartleyRD Tweet this
Yogurt Cups with Balsamic Macerated Strawberries and Toasted Almonds
- 3 cups plain or lower sugar vanilla yogurt, preferably Greek or skyr
- 2 cups strawberries, quartered
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped almonds, toasted
- Place strawberries in a medium bowl. Top with balsamic and honey then toss to combine. Let the strawberries sit and macerate at least 30 minutes.
- Divide yogurt between four mason jars or glasses. Top with strawberries and a little bit of their juices. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.