June 1 – it’s the beginning of a favorite food month – June Dairy Month! Milk, cheese, and yogurt deliver a unique nutrition package that is truly superior to milk alternatives (think coconut, almond, and others). Three sources of dairy a day is strongly recommended by dietitians, but with the new food labels to be released, you will soon note that indeed we should be striving for FOUR servings of dairy a day. Why? Because we need the extra calcium and vitamin D and potassium.
To celebrate June Dairy Month, I will be using the hashtag #howIdairy with pictures of my favorite dairy foods. Do you want to join in? I would love it! Post a pic on my Facebook page of one of your favorite ways to get dairy in every day and tag me (@jenhaugenrd) and @midwestdairy.
To inspire you to think dairy with all your meals and one snack, I wanted to share a few of my favorite ways to dairy shared from my recent dairy experience (sponsored by Midwest Dairy).
Disclosure: While my trip to the Dairy Conference was sponsored by Midwest Dairy, I was not paid to write this post.
One of the places we visited was Land-O-Lakes headquarters in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Typically known for their butter, but they produce a lot of cheese too! And even food service products specifically made for schools to use as well (whole grain macaroni and cheese, cheese cubes in small snack packages, and more — see their website for school nutrition recipes) including this one we feature at our local district – Chicken Wild Rice Soup. My favorite place inside was the test kitchen, filled with several home-style kitchens and tools we all use every day so they can create and test dairy delicious recipes for all of us to make. While we weren’t able to take pictures inside, we were able to taste an amazing new butter product that will be hitting the supermarket shelves very soon.
How I Dairy #1 – Butter
What’s so special about this product? It’s lower in sodium, and it is a combo of butter and canola oil. It spreads so easily and is delicious on just about anything. (Did you know we need only 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day?)
After that special tour, we walked down to Eastside, a downtown Minneapolis restaurant, and shared fantastic food, including a dairy delicious dessert of strawberry rhubarb crostini with vanilla bean ice cream. (That was after I had a hamburger topped with pepper jack cheese and avocado.)
How I Dairy #2 – Ice Cream, How I Dairy #3 – Cheese Slices on my Burger
Then we traveled two hours down the road to Redhead Creamery in Brooten, Minnesota. A family dairy milking operation that feeds a cheese making operation. (Did you know they offer FREE farm tours every Saturday? And you can purchase a meal and cheese from their creamery?)
A menu of cheeses available – all were delicious! (I might have purchased a number of them!)
The dairy farm operation is a true family affair. Dad (Jerry), mom (Linda), and daughter (Alise) and her husband are all involved in the operation.
Alise is one of four red-headed daughters who decided to come back to the dairy farm. She didn’t come back to milk cows — but to make cheese (her lifelong dream).
Through the telling of the history of the farm, I learned how important it is to keep striving for your dream. Even when there’s setbacks or wayward turns. All this over a delicious meal of a grilled chicken salad filled with glazed pecans, greens and of course, cheese.
How I Dairy #4 – Cheese on Salads
How I Dairy #5 – Cheese Plates
We then sampled a beautiful cheese plate filled with cheese, dried blueberries, glazed pecans, dried apricots, and slices of salami. (Easy meal idea for hot summer nights, or when hosting a spontaneous gathering!)
And we took a tour of the whole dairy farm. From start to finish, we saw it all – calves to cows and everything in between.
And visited cows and calves, big and small.
How I Dairy #6 – Milk
While on the bus, my good friend, Chere Bork (dietitian life coach and energy igniter), and I, played a little Cow Bingo. I also enjoyed our afternoon snack – a tall bottle of chocolate milk!
How I Dairy #7 – Giving Dairy to Others
The next day we were able to share the dairy good with others by packing sandwiches for Project 363 – this is a service organization that uses groups to prepare meat and cheese sandwiches for delivery throughout the Minneapolis area to those that are homeless. It started as an effort by the Sandwich Man (you MUST watch this 2 minute video about the project) and Project 363.
We simply packed meat and cheese on whole grain bread. They would later be handed out throughout Minneapolis to those who are homeless so they have a filling meal. (I learned more than 900,000 sandwiches will be handed out this year alone!)
These are some of the ways I dairy – stay tuned for more all month – and share your #HowIDairy pictures with me on my Facebook page!