Sep 21, 2010

Substitute for Sour Cream

Plain yogurt. PLAIN yogurt. PLAIN YOGURT?! Don't let its drab title scare you away! Plain yogurt is a miracle food, I'm convinced, and I plan to convince as many people as possible of this. I first discovered its usefulness while living in Missoula, Montana. There wasn't an Indian restaurant within 100 miles so I had to experiment with making my own Chicken Tikka Masala, a yogurt and spice marinated chicken dish, at home.

The Tikka Masala turned out beautifully and afterward I considered the possible love affair that this simple, creamy package of nutrition and I could have. After trying a spoonful for the first time, I noticed a striking similarity to sour cream and immediately decided that I would make some sort of Tex-Mex meal the next day that would require sour cream as a condiment. The next day I prepared tacos and scooped the plain yogurt into a modest dish that sat next to the cilantro, onions, and other toppings. No one that ate dinner with me that evening even considered the possibility that what they so generously spread over their dish was anything other than sour cream. At the end of the meal I disclosed my little secret to my future husband. He congratulated me on my discovery, which encouraged me to do some research.

Consider this simple comparison from

Sour Cream (1 Tablespoon)
  • 61 calories
  • 6 g fat
    • 3.7 g saturated fat
  • 15 mg sodium
  • .9 g protein
  • 32.9 mg calcium
  • 40.8 mg potassium
Plain Yogurt (1 Tablespoon)
  • 17 calories
  • .9 g fat
    • .6 g saturated fat
  •  13 mg sodium
  • 1 g protein
  • 34.3 mg calcium
  • 43.9 mg potassium
The difference in calorie and fat content is amazing! Realistically, the products are very similar. Yogurt is made by essentially the same process as sour cream - fermentation of a dairy product. The main difference is that sour cream is fermented cream and yogurt is fermented milk, which means you get all the nutritional value of milk, less fat, and some of that pro-biotic stuff that everyone's talking about these days.

I know that sour cream probably isn't a common condiment in most households, but if you consider the difference in nutritional value it's worth it to at least try plain yogurt as a substitute. I challenge you to get a small 8oz container for taco night, don't tell anyone that will eat with you, and see what happens. 

Don't forget the option of fat-free plain yogurt is out there, but I understand if baby steps are needed.


Geoffrey said...

If you're going for the fat-free yogurt, be sure to check the label to make sure that they didn't try loading up with sugar to make it taste better. Fat-free yogurt can arguably be worse for you than the regular kind.

mel said...

This is very true, thanks Geoffrey.