June Is Dairy Month: Milk It For All You Can!

It’s June.  A time to think about lazy days by the pool, backyard barbeques, kids going to camp, and dairy.  Yes, I said dairy.  June is National Dairy Month and a perfect time to evaluate your dairy intake.  Did you know that overall milk consumption in the United States is down?  More people are replacing the glass of milk at dinnertime with sodas and other empty calorie beverages. I’m telling you, the milk board ads were not lying with their slogans of  milk doing the body good!

Calcium and Protein
Most dairy products have high levels of these two nutrients that many of us need more of.  Unfortunately, ice cream falls on the low end but low-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese pack a punch in every serving, some as much as one-third of your daily calcium intake.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a very important vitamin and many don’t get enough in their diets.  Vitamin D promotes healthy bones by helping in calcium absorption.  Our bodies can make Vitamin D if we get adequate sunlight. Drinking dairy products fortified with Vitamin D is an easy way to give your body a boost.

Bone Density
Getting your calcium from food does your bones better than getting it from supplements. A Finnish study showed that girls ages 10-12 years old who ate cheese appeared to have a larger increase in bone mass than the groups who received calcium or calcium plus Vitamin D.

Blood Pressure
Spanish researchers studied more than 5,000 adults and they found that those who consumed the most low-fat dairy were 54% less likely to develop high blood pressure over a two year period than others with a low intake of dairy foods.

Metabolic syndrome
Iranian researchers studied data from 827 men and women and concluded that those who consumed the most dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese) were less likely to have enlarged waists and metabolic syndrome.  These symptoms have been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Calcium has not been linked to greater weight loss but there is increasing evidence that dairy calcium may help with body weight regulation.

 Dairy products are not only nutrient-rich but they are being produced using fewer resources which are helping to foster healthier people, communities, and a planet.  Adding a little extra dairy to your diet or changing it up a bit is easy.

Simple Dairy Additions (That Are Good For Your Budget, Too!)

Try cooling down with iced coffee and milk.  It’s an easy make ahead and much cheaper to make at home than to fork over $3 or $5 at the local coffeehouse a couple of times a week.  For less than $1, you can make great iced coffee yourself.

 Start with 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of brewed coffee, cooled.  Mix 1 cup of coffee and 1 cup of milk together and pour into an ice cube tray.  Freeze overnight until solid. Chill the remaining milk and coffee.  When ready to serve, split the chilled coffee and milk between 2 glasses.  Add sugar or sweetener to taste and divide the coffee cubes between the glasses. The coffee cubes will keep the drink cold without watering it down. Add flavored syrups for more punch.

Make a smoothie.  Try a strawberry banana—it’s easy to make and naturally sweet.  Get out your blender and combine 1 ½ cups milk, 1 pint vanilla yogurt, 2 ripe bananas, 1 ¼ cup sliced strawberries, and 2 tablespoons of honey. Add enough ice to bring the mixture up to 6 cups.  Blend until smooth and pour into glasses.  Garnish with a strawberry slice and fresh mint if desired.  This makes 4 to 5 servings.  (If you want an even simpler recipe, try my favorite smoothie.  Combine in your blender 1 cup of  your favorite orange juice and 1 cup of plain yogurt. Blend until smooth and enjoy.)

Yogurt maker. Available at www.lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron.

Make yourself a yummy yougurt parfait.  In a parfait glass or sundae dish, start with a layer of your favorite fruit or berries, add 1 cup vanilla yogurt, and top with ½ cup granola.

Say cheese.  Sprinkle grated cheese on salads, steamed vegetables, and main dishes. Use a box grater or container grater, and hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Piave, aged Gouda, Pecorino, or aged Jack. They will give you lots of flavor—and you’ll only need a small piece of the cheese to grate–as little as 1/8 to 1/4 of a pound. Use small curd cottage cheese or sour cream to top baked potatoes and to make vegetable dips.  Top warm apple pie with cheddar or American cheese slices.

Shake it up.  Combine 1 cup milk, 2 cups softened ice cream, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a blender.  To add some more variety, you can add 1 cup of your favorite fruit into the blender. Blend until smooth and spoon into glasses.  Top each glass with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate or fruit syrup.  Serve with a straw and tall spoon.

Have fun with your dairy foods, and celebrate it year round.

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