Open up a refrigerator in any U.S. household and you will find a staple that’s been part of American life for centuries. Milk has long been hailed as nature’s most perfect food. In addition to tasting great, milk is incredibly nutritious. Whether it’s whole or fat-free, white or chocolate, milk is a naturally nutrient-rich food that provides nine essential nutrients in every glass. Milk is the Number One food source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin D — three of the four nutrients that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans cites both adults and children need more of. And, in these financially tight times, few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way.
Good health starts with dairy. Research shows eating more low-fat dairy foods can help reduce your risk for high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers. The science is clear. Enjoying three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt a day as part of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet may help maintain a healthy weight. Currently, Americans consume about two dairy servings per day on average. Adding just one more serving can help fill America’s dairy and nutrient gaps. And, at just 25 cents a glass, milk’s essential nutrients provide the most affordable nutrition for the whole family.
Even those who are lactose intolerant or lactose sensitive can still enjoy dairy. Hard cheeses such as cheddar and Swiss are lactose free. Adding cheese or yogurt with live and active cultures to your diet, plus choosing lactose-free milk, are easy ways for the lactose sensitive or intolerant to get three servings of dairy every day. Check out the labels; consider incorporating small portions of dairy into your diet, and talk to your doctor or dietitian.
What’s also great about milk and dairy is their natural entertaining side. Milk and dairy have long been considered an entertaining choice for families … from having milk and cookie time, to making smoothies or frozen treats, to trying out yummy dips, breaking out the cheese and crackers for a snack break, or treating your athlete to chocolate milk after practice.
From being fun, to healthy and nutritious to affordable, it’s no wonder families are keeping milk and dairy stocked in their refrigerators.
Here’s how to easily incorporate three servings of dairy every day:
• Drink milk at mealtimes
• Keep chocolate milk in your fridge at work. It’s a flavorful addition to your morning coffee.
• Let kids choose chocolate milk after playtime and practice … it’s a healthier choice than soft drinks to refuel
• Keep yogurt or cheese on hand for a healthy snack
• Make frozen yogurt squares or smoothies for a later-in-the day or after-dinner treat
And, speaking of frozen yogurt squares, here’s a great recipe the whole family will enjoy:
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Squares
Makes 9 servings
1 cup crunchy wheat and barley cereal
3 cups fat-free strawberry yogurt
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen unsweetened strawberries (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light or fat-free whipped topping (optional)
Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil. Sprinkle cereal evenly on the bottom of the pan; set aside.
Place yogurt, strawberries and condensed milk in a blender; cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over top of cereal, gently smoothing yogurt mixture to edges of pan. Cover with foil (or plastic wrap) and freeze for 8 hours or until firm. Use edges of foil to loosen and remove from pan; let recipe thaw for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into squares, top with whipped topping, if desired, and serve.
Storage tip: Squares may be individually wrapped and frozen for single servings.
Note: Create your own variations by using other flavor combinations of yogurt and fruit.
Recipe created by 3-Every-Day™ of Dairy
Total Fat: 0 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 150 mg
Calcium: 20% Daily Value
Protein: 7 g
Carbohydrates: 42 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Alyssa Greenstein, RD, LD/N, Senior Manager, Nutrition Affairs, Florida Dairy Farmers. For more creative recipes and more information on the importance of dairy in your family’s diet, visit www.nationaldairycouncil.org. Florida Dairy Farmers is Florida’s milk promotion group, working to enhance the image of the dairy farming industry and increase milk and dairy product sales statewide via education and marketing. FDF is one of 18 member organizations of the United Dairy Industry Association and carries out the programs of Dairy Management Inc., the umbrella organization based in Chicago, Ill. For more information, call 407-647-8899 or visit www.floridamilk.com.