Greek yogurt's tasty, nutritional benefits drive national trend


Restaurants gamble on trends all the time, but Pinkberry might be setting one.

"We are doing 'savory.' We want to introduce new ways for people to enjoy Greek yogurt," said Laura Jakobsen, a senior vice president of marketing and design, at Pinkberry.

Not frozen yogurt, but rather savory meals and snacks made with plain sugar-free Greek yogurt.

"We have a cucumber yogurt which is fantastic. We also have an olive pesto, and we're also doing a Caprese," said Jakobsen.

Those are receiving some pretty nice reviews.

"I'm going to go back to the office and conquer the world," said L.A. resident Marc Tavakoli.

And while yogurt is often mixed with fruit and honey, choosing savory-vegetable is a move nutritionists applaud.

"They strain off the whey, which gives it that rich, creamy thickness, and it's typically and almost always lower in sugar, lower in fat, lower in carbohydrates and very high in protein," said holistic-nutrition specialist Karen Roth.

Getting as much protein as a serving of meat or fish: 12 to 18 grams, depending the snack or meal size.

Beyond Pinkberry, Trader Joe's was one of the first stocking Greek yogurt with Fage, Oikos, then Chobani, with the latter surpassing others in sales, according to Mintel data monitoring company. Actually, 36 percent of yogurt sales now come from Greek brands, and that's growing. Yoplait and Dannon have Greek options, as does Ben and Jerry's, now making Greek frozen yogurt.

"You can use it in any place where you would use sour cream, so on bake potatoes; any place you would use mayo, so maybe in tuna salad," said Roth.

Like traditional yogurt, there are loads of options.

At the market you're still going to want to check those labels. A full-fatted yogurt runs you 20 grams of fat in a tub, as opposed to 4 grams for a low-fat Greek yogurt.

When it comes to fruit and other toppings like honey, expect to add up to 7 teaspoons of sugar in some of the smaller cups.

Then there are the toppings.

"If you put too much honey on it or maybe put chocolate chips or too many cookies in it, then you no longer have such a healthy meal," said Roth.

Pinkberry is offering free Greek yogurt at four Los Angeles locations in August on Tuesdays, 20 stores in September, then it will be available nationwide in January.

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