June is National Dairy Month — a great time to emphasize the health benefits of dairy products and to recognize dairy farmers.
“Dairy MAX, your local nonprofit dairy council, represents more than 950 dairy farm families to 31 million people across southwest Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas,” said Susan Allen, program manager of industry affairs for Dairy MAX. “Our partners and stakeholders include school and district leaders, health professionals, academia, industry, media and consumers. To foster a healthier society, we focus on collaboration and outreach that is rooted in timely, science-based nutrition information and research.”
The current dietary guidelines for Americans confirm the importance of dairy as a part of a healthy diet and recommend three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products for adults and for children and adolescents ages 9 to 18 years. The recommendations for children ages 4 to 8 years is 2½ cups of milk daily and 2 cups for children ages 2 to 3 years.
“Most people only get about half of the three dairy servings recommended daily by the dietary guidelines, and I think people would find that shocking,” Allen said, “Dairy is critical for strong bones, healthy bodies, and can help with lots of other issues like maintaining a healthy weight and healthy blood pressure. So one simple hint is to get one serving of dairy at every meal, and you are good to go. Think low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt for an easy and good way to ‘milk’ your diet.”
Milk and other dairy products provide essential nutrients for our health. Some of the nutrients in dairy and some of the functions of those nutrients include:
•Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth and plays an important role in nerve function, muscle contraction and blood clotting.
•Potassium regulates the body’s fluid balance, helps maintain normal blood pressure and is needed for muscle activity and contraction.
•Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps convert food into energy, which is a crucial process for exercising muscles.
•Vitamin D helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone mineralization.
•Vitamin A maintains normal vision and skin, helps regulate cell growth and maintains integrity of the immune system.
•Niacin is important for the normal function of many enzymes in the body and is involved in the metabolism of sugars and fatty acids.
•Protein functions as the building blocks for body cells, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, blood, enzymes and hormones.
•Vitamin B12 helps build red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to working muscles.
•Phosphorus helps strengthen bones and generates energy in the body’s cells.
Milk your diet
There are many ways to increase the intake of dairy. Some tips include:
•Use skim milk instead of water when cooking oatmeal or other hot cereal.
•Make a variety of cream soups using skim milk for the base. A few options include cream of broccoli, asparagus and potato.
•Keep small containers of a variety of fat-free yogurt in the refrigerator to include with breakfast, for a snack or for a light dessert.
•Melt reduced-fat cheese on a whole-grain English muffin or toast for breakfast or a snack.
•Get creative with making smoothies. A simple basic recipe is to combine 1 cup of fat-free yogurt, ½ cup fruit juice and ½ to 1 cup frozen fruit in a blender and blend until smooth.
•Make puddings or tapioca using skim milk and serve as a dessert.
•Sprinkle soups and salads with reduced-fat grated cheese.
•Serve low-fat cottage cheese and pineapple, peaches or tomato slices for a nice salad.
•Soy beverages that are fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D can count as a dairy serving. These can be consumed as a beverage or used in recipes.
I’ve included a recipe from Dairy MAX for a skewered salad.
Salad on a Stick With Honey Mustard and
Cilantro Lime Dressings
1/2 cup vegetables, cut into 1-inch chunks (peppers, cucumbers, onion, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms)
1 to 11/2 ounces low-fat Cheddar cheese cubes
Lettuce or spinach
•Alternate vegetables and cheese cubes on skewer, weaving lettuce or spinach around vegetables. Serve with your choice of dressing.
HONEY MUSTARD YOGURT DRESSING
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons honey mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Salt to taste
•Stir all ingredients together until well blended. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
CILANTRO LIME YOGURT DRESSING
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
2 tablespoons minced scallion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
•Stir all ingredients together until well blended. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to meld. Will keep 3 to 4 days in refrigerator.
Nutrition Information: Calories 90, Total Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Sodium 260 mg, Calcium 20 percent of Daily Value, Protein 11 g, Carbohydrates 4 g.
Learn with Becky
Varner will teach healthy cooking classes featuring Taco Chicken Wrap and Southwest Corn Salad at noon Tuesday in the Buy For Less at 10011 SE 15 in Midwest City. Class size is limited. For reservations, call 302-6273, ext. 332.