March is National Nutrition Month and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages Americans to “Go Further with Food.” When it comes to food and nutrition, one thing most health professionals agree on is we could all benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables. What you might not know is most Americans also fall below their recommended daily servings of dairy foods. The Dietary Guidelines recommend three servings per day (think of one serving as 8 ounces of milk or yogurt, or 1 ounce of cheese), however, most people get only an average of 1.8 servings per day, which could mean we are missing out on important nutrients dairy foods provide.
As a registered dietitian in South Dakota, I’m proud to work on behalf of dairy farmers, and I’m passionate about combining dairy foods with fruits and vegetables, which helps make healthy eating a bit easier and allows us to “Go Further with Food.” Easy is important for today’s busy lifestyle! Dairy pairs well with most foods, making this a natural fit and simple way to boost nutrition.
Tips for Going Further With Food
Here are my tips for using dairy to help you “Go Further with Food” during National Nutrition Month® and beyond!
- Pair cheese cubes with your favorite fruits of vegetables. Try our Rainbow Fruit & Cheese Kabobs.
- Dip berries or grapes in yogurt for a tasty, sweet treat.
- Whip up a dairy-based smoothie in a blender for an on-the-go snack. Add whatever fruits and vegetables you like, or perhaps those nearing the end of their shelf life.
- Make a yogurt-based dip for fresh vegetables. Try our Green Pea and Parmesan Dip. I skipped the colander step for ease.
- Boost nutrition and flavor by adding shredded cheese to vegetables and/or salads.
- Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables, cheese and a whole-wheat tortilla.
- Build a breakfast parfait with your favorite yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal.
- Pair a bottle of milk, yogurt tube or cheese stick with a piece of fruit for easy snacking on the go.
- Add cottage cheese to fruits like peaches or pears—or try tomatoes for a savory twist.
- Use plain Greek yogurt as a base for homemade dressings for your salad.
- Use cheese to jazz up an egg and veggie dish. Try our Cheddar and Mushroom Breakfast Squares.
- Pile your pizza with vegetables. Try broccoli, spinach, green pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini.
- Top a baked potato with broccoli and cheese, or plain Greek yogurt.
For more information on dairy nutrition, visit the Midwest Dairy Association.