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St. Louis District Dairy Council offers a variety of programs, both in and out of the classroom, to help schools educate students on the importance of dairy foods as part of a healthy diet. These programs offer everything from grants to encourage healthy eating in schools to games and activities that teach lessons about dairy. And that's only the beginning.

Ice cream: Summer’s Perfect Companion

July was declared National Ice Cream Month in 1984 with President Ronald Regan stating that ice cream is “the perfect dessert.” Thirty-four years later, that statement has stood the test of time. Nothing says summer quite like ice cream does. The sound of the ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood brings excitement to kids of all ages. Whether it’s a scoop of your favorite flavor melting down the side of a cone, a hot fudge sundae, or a classic root beer float, ice cream has become the perfect companion for hot summer days.

Back to School: Creative Ways Schools Are Serving Up Dairy

It is back to school time and the cafeteria is one place students may not expect to see exciting changes. However, through its Dollars for Dairy initiative, St. Louis District Dairy Council is helping 37 schools amp up their breakfast and lunch programs to include more milk, cheese and yogurt. When students choose dairy at school, they are getting nutrients like protein and calcium to help fuel them throughout the day. Here are a few creative ways cafeterias are serving up dairy with the help of SLDDC’s Dollars for Dairy initiative:

June is Dairy Month!

Reminiscing about childhood and reflecting on special occasions with family often conjures up memories of bonding over favorite meals. For St. Louis District Dairy Council’s (SLDDC) Nutrition Educators who work “in the field” on behalf of local dairy farmers, those meal memories often include dairy treats and dishes.  “As a child, I remember drinking milk at the dinner table (with an occasional spill!), eating ice cream cones, making homemade ice cream, and indulging in cheesy casseroles,” recalls Nutrition Educator Monica Nyman

Build Strong Bones with Dairy

Parents want their children to grow up strong and healthy. Sometimes when they consider their children’s health, they may forget about bone health. But building strong bones in childhood is important to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures later in life. May is National Osteoporosis Month, an ideal time to consider assessing your child’s bone health. As a parent, you can make sure your kids are getting the three key ingredients for healthy bones: calcium, vitamin D, and exercise. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and break easily. When someone has osteoporosis, it means their bone mass is very low. Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes childhood the best time to build strong, healthy bones. Calcium is a mineral that helps build healthy bones. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium from the foods we eat. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is critical in building and maintaining strong, dense bones. When we don’t get the calcium our body needs, it is taken from our bones. This can cause bones to weaken and become easier to break. Milk is a perfect package of calcium and vitamin D, along with other essential nutrients. It is important for people of all ages to meet calcium and vitamin D recommendations. One of the easiest (and tastiest!) ways to do this is to enjoy three servings of dairy every day. Milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium; providing one-third of the recommended daily intake of calcium in each serving. Th role of dairy foods is more crucial than ever as most Americans are not getting enough calcium, putting them at increased risk for bone-crippling disease.  Getting more calcium in your diet can be as simple as drinking a glass of milk with meals, adding shredded cheese to salads, pasta and casseroles, or preparing soup and hot cereal with milk instead of water. Along with diet, exercise is important for maintaining a lifetime of healthy bones. Any physical activity is great for kids, but weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, and even dancing, is best for bones. Swimming and biking, while great for general health, are not weight-bearing exercises that help build bone density. And although kids who play outside tend to have higher vitamin D levels, the most important thing  is for kids is to spend less time sitting and more time moving.  So remember to be a good example for your family and help them develop a lifelong love of physical activity. Recipes Bean and Cheese Enchilada Casserole Prep time 20 minutes ;  Serves 8 Ingredients 1 can (15 ounce) pinto beans, rinsed and mashed, or nonfat refried beans 3 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt 2 (10 ounce) cans of red enchilada sauce 12 corn tortillas (6-inch diameter) 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided into 3 portions (2/3 cup each) ¼ cup minced white onion   Directions Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 7 x 11-inch (or 2-quart size) baking dish with cooking spray. Combine beans and yogurt in a small bowl. Spread about ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange 4 tortillas in the dish, overlapping to cover the bottom. Top with half the bean/yogurt mixture, using the back of a spoon to thinly spread. Sprinkle â…” cup cheese and 2 tablespoons onion on top of the mixture. Top with one-third of the remaining enchilada sauce, 4 tortillas, the remaining bean mixture, â…” cup cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons onion. Spread half of the remaining enchilada sauce on top and cover with the remaining 4 tortillas. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and â…” cup cheese. Bake until hot and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional minced onion, if desired. Nutrition Facts:   280 calories, 12 g fat, 14 g protein, 27% calcium   Berry Banana Smoothie in a Bowl Prep time 10 minutes; Serves 2 Ingredients ¾ cup low fat milk ½ cup low fat vanilla greek yogurt 1 cup fresh spinach 1 cup frozen mixed berries 1 whole frozen banana Toppings: granola, fresh berries, banana slices, toasted coconut, almonds, chia seeds Directions  Combine milk, yogurt, spinach, berries and banana to the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with desired toppings. Eat with a spoon and enjoy!  Nutrition Facts : 180 calories, 3 g fat, 9 g protein, 20% calcium

Spring Cleaning: Tidy Up Your Diet Habits

Welcome to spring! This is a season of new beginnings, fresh starts, and opportunities to grow. Spring cleaning is likely on the agenda: evaluating what we have, dusting off items we have ignored, organizing what we choose to keep, and shedding what we no longer need. In addition to spring cleaning our homes, offices, and outdoor space, this season invites us to tidy up our habits related to personal health. Much like how we take inventory of household items to assess what should stay and what should go, spring is the time to look critically at choices we routinely make regarding diet and overall health. Which habits promote growth and health, and which slow us down or keep us from feeling our best? We suggest that you assess your usual diet pattern; do you choose foods every day from all food groups? Routinely skipping any of the 5 food groups means missing out on the nutrients they provide. Ensure you are choosing adequate amounts of food groups, too. Choosing 3 dairy servings a day is a healthy habit to maintain. Dairy fuels your body with an unmatched package of 9 essential nutrients. For some, tidying up diet habits may mean limiting treats that are high in sugar and fat, but do not provide significant nutrition. Cutting down on such treats makes room for foods that offer more bang for their nutritional buck, providing satisfaction as well as nourishment. Flavored milk is a perfect example of a nutritious choice that satisfies a sweet craving and packs a nutrient punch of protein, calcium, and Vitamin D. If you determine that there is room for dietary improvements, spring is the perfect time of year to sow the seeds of good habits. Weed out the choices that do not promote health, and begin new habits. Set small, simple goals to start you moving in the right direction. Add a serving of a food group that your diet lacks.  Take the dog for an extra walk. Schedule an annual visit with your doctor. Make small changes that you can build on. As you advance through the seasons and build on your small goals, you will reap the benefits of tidying up your health habits. Recipes Orange Chocolate Chill Serves: 1 Ingredients 1 cup low fat chocolate milk 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder 1 T frozen orange juice concentrate Instructions Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend, and serve   OR  Combine all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid, shake until blended and slightly frothy, and serve. Nutrition Facrs: 198 Calories, Fat 3gm, Carbohydrate 36 gm, Protein 10 gm, Calcium 23%   Cheese and Asparagus Tart Serves: 4 Ingredients 1 sheet puff pastry (store-bought, thawed) ½ pound asparagus (ends trimmed) 1 ¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese 1 tsp lemon zest 1 T olive oil 1 garlic clove Fresh pepper to taste   Instructions Preheat oven to 400  Roll out puff pastry with a rolling pin; bake pastry for 10 minutes. While pastry is baking, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, and garlic. Toss asparagus in the olive oil mixture. Sprinkle Swiss cheese on the puff pastry, then arrange asparagus on top of the cheese. Add fresh pepper to taste. Bake for 25 minutes. Cut in 4 equal portions to serve. Nutrition Facts: 211 Calories , Fat 16 gm, Carbohydrate 8 gm, Protein 11 gm, Calcium 22%

Make Healthy Happen this Holiday Season

The holidays are here! We love to celebrate, but it can be a challenge to balance party foods with smart food choices. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle this time of year may require some planning, but it is possible. Keep healthy eating and physical activity part of your holiday season with these easy tips.    Before You Go It’s important to keep healthy eating habits during the holiday months.  Don’t skip meals to save to save calories. Skipping meals may increase hunger and cause overeating. Before you leave home for the party, have a small snack.  Try a cup of plain Greek yogurt drizzled with honey, cheese cubes paired with whole grain crackers, or a glass of milk and a small banana. Dairy foods, including milk, yogurt and cheese provide a good source of high quality protein. The 8 grams of protein in a serving of dairy is a perfect way to take the edge off of hunger and help control appetite. Bring Something to the Party Volunteer to bring a healthy dish to the party and guarantee there’s something healthy to eat. Assemble platters of brightly-colored fresh fruits or vegetables and serve with yogurt-based dips. Yogurt provides a powerful package of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein.For an easy dip, combine plain yogurt with ranch dressing mix, and serve with raw vegetables. A cheese platter with fruit and nuts is another healthy option that offers protein and fiber. Recipe Makeover Review recipes you plan to use for the holidays and make some changes. Often holiday recipes have large amounts of fat and sugar that can be reduced. Try decreasing the sugar by one fourth in baked goods. Greek yogurt is a perfect replacement for fat in baked goods. Substitute ¾ cup of Greek yogurt for one cup of oil. Using yogurt in place of other ingredients adds protein, as well as a tangy flavor.Greek yogurt is versatile when it comes to snacking, cooking and baking. Enjoy Your Favorites in Balance. Focus on eating the foods you really love and skip those that you don’t. Pass over the foods that are offered throughout the year and enjoy the special foods that are only on-hand during the holidays. Make sure to practice moderation as you enjoy tasty treats.  One or two cookies or a small slice of pie may be enough to satisfy the taste for sweets. Balance high calorie meals with lower calorie meals over several days. Stay active over the holiday season and aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy holiday season.  RECIPES These  crisps  are excellent for a quick party appetizer or snack. Parmesan Crisps Yield: 24 crisps Ingredients: 3 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese  Red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using 2 tablespoons per crisp form a mound on the baking sheet and flatten slightly with back of spoon. Leave at least an inch between mounds and edges. The baking sheet will hold 8 to 12 crisps depending on how they are spaced. Top each mound of cheese with pepper. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool, carefully remove from parchment paper. Continue process until all cheese has been used. Notes: Crisps are best eaten the day they are made, refrigerate any leftovers  Crisps may also be used to top salads or soups Any hard grating cheese may be used. Nutrition Facts (2 crisps):  91 calories, 9 g protein, 6 grams fat, 28% calcium Greek yogurt replaces a portion of fat in this recipe, and saves calories while increasing protein and calcium.  Yogurt Cranberry Bread    Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices) Ingredients: 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 cup salted butter, softened 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 cup Greek yogurt 2 eggs 1/3 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries chopped   Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in yogurt, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir in the orange peel and cranberries, and then stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated, taking care not to over beat the batter. Spread the batter in the prepared loaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then remove the bread to a wire rack to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar on top of bread, if desired. Nutrition Facts (1 slice):  176 calories, 5g protein, 5 grams fat, 10% Calcium

PARTY 'TIL THE COWS COME HOME

It’s one of our favorite times of the year! June Dairy Month honors hardworking farmers who produce wholesome dairy foods. While dairy’s great taste is reason enough to celebrate, 2017 marks several special milestones for the dairy industry. So grab a glass of chocolate milk, a cube (or two) of cheddar cheese or a yogurt parfait and get ready to cheer all-things-dairy all summer long!

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