Strike up the band, it’s National Dairy Month and here in the state of Vermont, we take that as a reason to celebrate. While we also consider every month to be dairy month it is nationally recognized in June. Dairy is a basic food group that is made up of foods derived from animal milk. (Today we will focus on animal-based dairy products although we fully understand there are many ‘non-animal’ dairy-like options). These foods include anything from yogurt to cheese and kefir to milk! Dairy is a fantastic way to get energy, protein, vitamins and minerals too! Dairy is so versatile that there is hardly anything you can’t do with it!
When you think outside the glass of milk and cheese slices there is a whole world of recipes and flavor sensations just waiting to happen! If you are looking to get adventurous, try new foods and recipes, then the dairy aisle might be just where you want to go! Here are some of our favorite dairy recipes:
Cheese-Ips (Cheese Chips)
Place small piles of cheese on a parchment-lined pan, bake at 350° until melted
Use these chips to enjoy salsa, guacamole or just as is!
Cheese and Chicken Pizza
Take one pound of ground chicken and mix with 2 cups of your favorite cheeses. Mix in any spices you like such as basil, oregano, onion powder, etc. Mold into a pizza crust and bake at 350° until the crust is at least 160°. We like to top with BBQ sauce, sliced onion, and spinach, but explore new flavor toppings!
Cinnamon Apple Dip
Mix 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 TBSP maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon apple pie spice, ¼ chopped apples (we like green apples.) Mix up and chill. This can be served as a dip for more apples or just enjoyed as is.
Creamy Salsa Topping
One brick cream cheese and ½ cup salsa. Mix and enjoy! This is perfect as a dip or you can add in a little more salsa and enjoy as a salad dressing too!
Play around with dairy and look for new ways to enjoy this versatile and healthy food group. Do keep in mind that all dairy isn’t made equal. While fat free milk has the fat skimmed out and remains low in calories, heavy cream, on the other hand, is very caloric and high in fat. Be mindful of what types of dairy you are using and when. While heavy cream can be a treat sometimes, it’s certainly not something you want to consume a lot of very often. (A splash in your coffee is different than an ice cream cone every day.)
Consider buying your dairy local. Now many more grocery stores are offering local dairy options from local butters to local cheese. Each dairy maker will have something to offer and it can even be fun to try a variety or cheeses from different local cheesemakers. If you tend to stick to “cow” dairy, maybe give some goat cheese a try, or sheep cheese. You may even be eating these already without knowing it. More than ever we can help support local farmers by keeping our dairy choices local. It’s not only helping a local farmer live out their dream, but it’s also helpful to the environment. Eating locally-produced foods reduces our carbon footprint.
Celebrate National Dairy Month with us by enjoying healthy dairy foods. Be mindful of your choices and amounts of dairy for what best serves you and your health. Add some yogurt to granola, sprinkle cheese on salads, put some sour cream on your salsa, the varieties are endless! Try something new, we dairy you!
Director of The Wellness Center