Mooove over fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein…the food group star of the month is dairy! If you haven’t already heard, June is National Dairy Month. Dairy products include fluid milk or products made from milk including milk, yogurt, cheese, frozen yogurt, and cottage cheese, to name a few. Most dairy products are an excellent source of calcium and also contain Vitamin D and potassium. Dairy, with its calcium and vitamin D content, can help decrease the risk of osteoporosis and improve bone health. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and lower blood pressure in adults.
ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends 3 servings or cups of dairy per day. One serving or cup equates to one-eight ounce glass of milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces of hard cheese, approximately the size of six dice (cheddar, mozzarella, or Swiss), 1/3 cup shredded cheese, or 2 cups of cottage cheese. Don’t forget to make your choices low-fat or fat-free as otherwise the fat content can add up. Diets high in saturated fat can raise bad cholesterol and the risk for heart disease. If one is lactose-intolerant, a great alternative is calcium-fortified soy, almond, or rice milk.
Here are some suggestions on how to make sure to get three cups of dairy per day:
1. Enjoy a low-fat yogurt or milk smoothie for breakfast
2. Enjoy coffee with low-fat or non-fat milk rather than creamer
3. Snack on low-fat string cheese or yogurt for a snack
4. Drink low-fat or non-fat milk with meals instead of soda or juice
5. Use low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream
6. For dessert make a low calorie pudding mixed with fat-free or low-fat milk
Or try this recipe below from the National Dairy Council which contains 20% of your Daily Value for calcium per serving:
Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (8-ounce) container low-fat plain yogurt or low-fat plain Greek-style yogurt
1 cup shredded part-skim, low-moisture Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped red pepper
Combine all ingredients except red pepper and mix well. Pour mixture into 1-quart casserole dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and sprinkle with red peppers. Serve with toasted bread or whole grain crackers. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 80, Total Fat 3 g, Sodium 220 mg, Carbs 7 g, Fiber 1 g