Dairy Good Things That I Am Thankful For…


Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to gather with friends and family to celebrate all of the things for which we are grateful. As I reflect on this year, there are a number of DAIRY GOOD THINGS THAT I AM THANKFUL FOR – foods that nourish me on a daily basis and foods that are more of a special indulgence:

  • The ice cold milk that has RIBOFLAVIN – which helps convert food into energy – to top off my bowl of cereal every morning.
  • The cheesy Hawaiian pizza that contains PROTEIN – which helps build and repair muscle tissues – on nights when I don’t want to cook.
  • The choco-berry swirl smoothie that provides POTASSIUM – which helps maintain normal blood pressure – when I’m looking for the perfect sweet treat.
  • The melted grilled cheese sandwich that has VITAMIN A – which helps maintain normal vision – that pairs perfectly with my bowl of tomato soup.
  • The steaming hot chocolate that contains NIACIN – which helps digest sugars and fats – topped with mini marshmallows on a cold winter night.
  • The chocolate chip ice cream in a sugar cone that provides CALCIUM – which helps build and maintain healthy bones – on a hot summer day.
  • The spinach and artichoke dip (with cheese) that provides VITAMIN B12 – which helps maintain healthy red blood cells and nerve cells –when I’m sharing an appetizer with my family.
  • The hot chai latte that contains VITAMIN D – which helps promote calcium absorption – from my favorite local coffee shop.
  • The fruit and yogurt parfait that provides PHOSPHORUS – which helps strengthen bones – which is my perfect mid-afternoon snack.

Take time to reflect on all of the dairy good things that you are thankful for this Thanksgiving, and don’t forget, milk, cheese and yogurt don’t just taste good, they are good for you!


To find some delicious recipes that include milk, cheese or yogurt, be sure to stop by our Michigan Dairy Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/michigandairy/.

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Lions, and Rockstars, and Learning. Oh, MI!


Throughout my schooling to become a registered dietitian, I can tell you one thing: I NEVER imagined that working to promote health and wellness could be as much fun as it was last week!

Last Tuesday, more than 350 students and adults, representing 31 Michigan school teams, traveled to Ford Field, to attend the fifth annual Fuel Up to Play 60 Rally for School Health. Our mission was to provide the school teams with tips, tools, and recipes to help them inspire others to eat healthy and be active for at least 60 minutes a day.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program founded by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture, that empowers students to take charge in making small, everyday changes at school, specifically focusing on healthy eating and physical activity.

It’s difficult to put into words the impact that the day’s events had on the teams that participated. Scott Ferry, a dairy farmer from Litchfield, Mich., served as the emcee and rallied the crowd throughout the day; students and school staff engaged in activities that included rocking out with Jill Jayne, registered dietitian and Rockstar Nutritionist… to hearing from Jean Blaydes, an expert on the connection between learning and exercise… all the way to catching touchdown passes from Detroit Lions alumni players, Herman Moore and Jason Hanson!

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few professional athletes and it never ceases to amaze me how well they interact with, empower, and encourage the students to make healthy decisions. One of my favorite messages of the day came from former kicker, Jason Hanson, during the press conference when he addressed the students about the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, if you’re an artist, if you’re an exceptional student, or if you’re in the band… what matters is that you take care of the ONE body that you’re given. He went on to say that this means more than cutting out “junk food” and moving more, it means making sure to eat nutritious foods, foods that will give you energy to be active for at least 60 minutes EVERY day, getting enough sleep, and making good life choices! If it would have been appropriate for me to stand up and shout from the rooftop, “AGREED!” I would have.

Being a lover of food, I appreciated the variety of foods that were offered, all of which met the School Meal Nutrition Standards. A couple samplings from the menu included fruit and yogurt parfaits, a variety of non-traditional quesadillas, rockin’ ratatouille, and chili-lime flavored baked chickpeas—a crowd pleaser.

The Rockstar Nutritionist, her Bone Building Crew and Roary (the Detroit Lions mascot) topped the “Rally Charts” this year with their newly released “Bone Rap,” a danceable song which focuses on the delicious drink that provides nine essential nutrients: low-fat milk. Jill also highlighted the fact that we all have ONE body, and that healthy is good for ME and MY body! A powerful message for the students, and an even more powerful reminder for the adults in the audience, myself included.

Seeing the looks of determination on the participants’ faces, hearing the cries of excitement that filled the stands and tasting the sweet victory that we’d accomplished that day, I’d say we completed our mission… plus some! I’ve seen the value and importance the dairy farm families of Michigan place on child health and wellness, and it’s events like these that further my pride in representing them every day of the year. Thank you for making this day possible; it is one that will make the record books for years to come.

To date, nearly 3,000 schools in Michigan have signed up to participate in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, and that number continues to grow. If you’re interested in learning how you can become involved in Fuel Up to Play 60 in your community, check out www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.

Until next year, Ford Field!


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Milk Enhancer?

Recently, I attended a women’s expo and exhibited on behalf of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, as well as all of Michigan’s dairy farmers and processors. The exhibit booth was displayed beautifully with nutrition illustrations, black and white dairy cow spots, and got milk? graphics in every corner. Naturally, I was met with several women and families who literally ran up to the “milk” booth to exclaim how much they “looooved milk!”

At one point during the expo I met a woman who stated to me that she does not let her young daughter drink milk because it makes her “develop” faster than normal, because of all the hormones. Happily, I was able to dispel this myth and explain to the mother that milk does help develop strong bones, teeth, and muscles. Unfortunately, milk does not enhance specific body parts, but if it did, imagine the long line of people that would appear at the dairy case!








Milk does do a body good by providing nine essential nutrients and a punch of protein. Milk is America’s number one source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin D; with cheese coming in at second place. Dairy makes healthy eating easy and can help fill nutrient gaps commonly seen in Americans’ diets. From childhood to adulthood, the dairy industry is committed to providing real and fresh nutrient-rich foods and beverages.

I was able to share some facts about hormones and milk with the woman at the expo and set her mind at ease. I was happy to see her relax knowing that milk is safe and nutritious for her daughter to drink and that it will ONLY enhance her muscles, bones, and teeth. Now that’s something to celebrate!



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Back to School with Three Superfoods


It’s August, and a barrage of back-to-school ads are all over the place, reminding us that summer is coming to an end. Kids love back to school shopping: shiny new shoes, clean bright erasers and unchewed pencils. But don’t forget the grocery aisle – your choices about what you serve for dinner and what goes in your child’s lunchbox will make a big impact on their energy and readiness to learn. Include these foods for supercharged students:

          Dairy Foods:  Milk, yogurt and cheese are packed with protein and nine nutrients essential for the growth of brain tissue and neurotransmitters.  A recent study found that adults who consumed more milk and other dairy products scored significantly higher on memory and other cognitive tests than those who drank little to no milk.  And dairy is a great source of Vitamin D, a nutrient that has been widely reported as deficient in adults’ and children’s diets.

          Eggs:  Egg yolks are rich in choline, a nutrient critical for children’s brain development. Whether you scramble eggs at breakfast, cook them in a frittata for an easy dinner, or offer a hard-boiled egg for a snack, serve eggs to your kids regularly!

          Salmon:  Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for brain growth and function. Studies show that children who have increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet perform better in reading and spelling and have fewer behavioral problems.  Try this kid-friendly recipe for Baked Salmon Sticks with Creamy Yogurt Dip.

For more family-friendly, nutritious recipes, check out our Pinterest board titled MI Kids’ Favorites. And have a great first day of school!

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Good Reasons for Older Adults to Boost their Intake of High-Quality Protein

My elderly neighbor has been a role model for “successful aging,” evidenced by her good health, active lifestyle, and ability to live alone independently. However, I recently noticed that she seemed to be frail and she commented that fear of falling was limiting her regular walks. Knowing that I’m a Registered Dietitian, she expressed concern about her diet. Other than being aware that her favorite afternoon snack is a cup of clear tea and a cookie, I knew little about what she usually eats. So, I suggested that she keep a food record for a few days. It soon became apparent, based on her low food intake and food choices, that she was not consuming enough high-quality protein. An adequate intake of protein, along with physical activity, helps older adults maintain or increase muscle mass and strength and promote balance to reduce risk of falls.

According to a recent review, older adults need higher intakes of high-quality protein than younger adults to support good health, promote recovery from illness, and maintain muscle strength and function. Older adults’ low protein intake can result in loss of lean body mass, particularly muscle mass, which can contribute to increased risk of sarcopenia and osteoporosis.

Sarcopenia refers to the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, which can lead to older adults’ loss of independence, increased frailty, disability, and decreased quality of life. Loss of muscle can begin as early as age 40, but more commonly starts after age 55. If measures are not taken to slow or stop this loss of muscle, it can lead to sarcopenia. Depending on how sarcopenia is defined, it has been estimated to affect as many as 50% of adults over age 80. Although the cause of sarcopenia is considered to be complex, current attention is focused on low protein intake and physical inactivity as important contributing factors.

Older adults are at risk of bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis (porous bones) and increased risk of fractures. Research indicates that higher protein intake has a beneficial effect on bone health when calcium and vitamin D are adequate. Protein’s beneficial effect on bones may be partly mediated by its effect on skeletal muscles, which support bones. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that one in two women aged 50 years and older will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime if preventive measures are not taken. Dairy foods are not only an important source of high-quality protein, but also contain calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients supporting bone health. Unfortunately, my neighbor failed to consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods (milk, cheese, yogurt) a day, as recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Older Adults Need More Protein

The current Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein – the minimum amount to prevent a deficiency – is 0.8 grams/kilogram body weight a day for adults. This amounts to 45 grams/day for women (125 pounds) and 55 grams/day for men (154 pounds). New research indicates that an average daily protein intake of at least 1.0 to 1.2 grams/kilogram body weight may be optimal for healthy older adults.

The Source and Distribution of Protein Are Key

Foods such as dairy, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and soy are sources of high-quality protein. High-quality proteins not only contain all of the essential amino acids or building blocks of protein that the body can’t make on its own, but also are easily digested. Milk, flavored milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, and Greek yogurt are naturally good to excellent sources of high-quality protein. Milk-based proteins, including casein (80% of milk protein) and whey protein (20% of milk protein), have been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis. In particular, whey protein from dairy products may be beneficial in protecting against sarcopenia. This may be largely due to whey protein’s high content of leucine, an essential amino acid which stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

Evenly distributing protein intake throughout the day is important to provide benefits such as maximizing muscle growth. Some experts recommend that older adults (and others) consume 20 to 30 grams of high-quality protein at each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) throughout the day, rather than the typical practice of “end-loading” their protein intake at dinner.

Tips to Help Increase Older Adults’ Protein Intake

Working with my elderly neighbor, we came up with the following strategies to help increase her intake of high-quality protein:

  • Incorporate more protein into daily meals and snacks. For example, instead of clear tea and a cookie for a snack, tea with milk and cheese and crackers, or flavored milk, or yogurt contribute more protein. My neighbor especially liked the idea of making smoothies such as the Banana-Nut Breakfast Smoothie recipe. A serving of this smoothie is an excellent source of protein and calcium. Other suggestions to increase protein intake at breakfast – a meal typically low in protein – are to consume milk with cereal, eggs, yogurt, or lean meat. Some suggestions to boost protein intake at lunch – another meal often low in protein – are to add cheese to sandwiches, or add cheese and a chopped, hard-boiled egg to salads, and drink white or flavored milk. For recipes that include protein, visit http://www.udim.org, http://www.wheyprotein.nationaldairycouncil.org, and http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org.
  • Look for the protein content of foods and beverages on the Nutrition Facts panel. One cup of cow’s milk or yogurt contains 8 to 10 grams of protein and an equivalent serving (1-1/2 ounces) of Cheddar cheese has 9 to 11 grams of protein, the amount depending on the specific product. The protein content is higher for a serving of Greek yogurt than regular yogurt and for cottage cheese than Cheddar cheese. My neighbor was surprised to learn that not all “milks” contain the same amount of protein. For example, almond “milk” contains only 1 gram of protein for an 8-ounce (1 cup) serving compared to cow’s milk, which contains 8 to 10 grams of protein for a similar size serving.
  • Enjoy foods and beverages containing whey protein, such as protein bars or shakes, which can be found at grocery and health food stores.

In addition to talking about increasing intake of foods containing high-quality protein, we discussed ways to increase physical activity, especially resistance exercise (e.g., using elastic exercise bands). The National Institute on Aging has a guide to help older adults fit exercise and physical activity into their daily lives.

It’s been a month since my initial discussion with my neighbor about her diet. She’s very excited about her “protein project,” as she calls it, and has added many protein-rich foods to her meals and snacks. She’s also now reading Nutrition Facts labels on foods to help her make more protein-rich food choices.

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Champions Choose Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk has been thought of as ‘Nature’s Sports Drink’ because every glass provides the nutrition needed to help your body recover after a tough workout. Chocolate milk contains a unique mix of nutrients (calcium, potassium, vitamins D, A, and B12, protein, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorus) that help refuel, rebuild, and replenish what your body has lost.  

Chocolate milk contains carbohydrates and protein that are important for athletes’ health. Research suggests that drinking chocolate milk after a hard workout could give athletes an advantage during future performances. In fact, some studies have shown that drinking low-fat chocolate milk after a strenuous workout could help athletes boost power and even improve training times in future exercise sessions! As a result, not only is chocolate milk a good choice to help refuel, it’s a good choice to help enhance performance. Also, the nutrients in chocolate milk provide a variety of health benefits, including:

  • High-quality protein to build lean muscle
  • Calcium to keep bones strong
  • Electrolytes (potassium and calcium) that are lost in sweat
  • Fluids to help with hydration

And, what I love most about chocolate milk is that it tastes great, it’s inexpensive, and it’s easy to find grab-and-go bottles in grocery and convenience stores, cafeterias and quick serve restaurants. So, the next time you finish your workout and go to grab the protein powder or sports drink, rethink your drink and choose the drink of champions – chocolate milk!

I’ve found that there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold glass of chocolate milk after my tough workouts… Cheers!

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Healthy habits for the entire family

Parenting in the year 2013 has its challenges.  I understand these challenges and pressures being the parent of two children going into third and seventh grade myself.  As parents, we are constantly bombarded with messages about our children: encourage them to be the best and greatest, feed them right, make sure they are active, be sure to get in the required amount of reading minutes, practice math facts, involve them in sports, take them to music lessons, make sure they are well rounded, and the list goes on and on.  As a pediatric registered dietitian, I try my best to focus on role modeling a healthy lifestyle for my family so we have the energy to tackle everything we need to accomplish, and that includes Fueling Up our bodies to Play 60 minutes every day.

I feel that it is important for children to learn about balanced nutrition at home.  The messages they receive in the media can be confusing and negative – don’t eat this, you should weigh that, the latest way to lose weight, make sure you are buff and ripped, this beverage will make you fit, etc., etc.  Nutrition messages should be positive about getting all the food your body needs every day and highlight the great qualities these foods have to offer.  As adults, we need to model the behaviors we would like our children to have (yes that may mean expanding our own horizons – I have even learned to tolerate raw tomatoes since becoming a mom).  It really helps to involve your family in the process.  Here are a few quick tips to make food fun:

  1. Focus on a new food group/cuisine/color each week.
  2. Have your children:
    • Decide what new food to try each day based on the weekly theme.
    • Create decorations based on the weekly theme.
    • Help purchase and prepare the new food. (When children help cook they are more likely to try new items.)
    • Grow their own fruits and vegetables or check out your local farmers market or u-pick farm.
    • Take a tour of a local dairy farm.
  3. Try some new recipes. Check out some great refreshing summer recipes like Lemon Yogurt Bars from www.udim.org or Cucumber Watermelon Salad from www.kidseatright.org.
Role modeling doesn’t stop with eating healthy, it also includes being active. It is easy to get caught up caring for the family and not getting activity ourselves. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that children ages 6-17 get at least 60 minutes every day and adults (18-64) get 30 minutes every day. Be physically active together as a family by:

  1. Taking a walk or jog together. My family has decided to make it our goal to complete a local 5K this summer.
  2. Turning up the music and having a crazy dance party. What better way to laugh and be silly together.
  3. Combining learning and activity together into Math Hopscotch. Instead of the usual 1-10 in the squares, make up other numbers and have your child come up with a math fact (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) for that number.
  4. Participating in the 6 week Presidential Fitness Challenge as a family. For more information go to http://www.fitness.gov
By establishing healthy eating habits and regular physical activity early in life, it will become part of the daily routine and be “the norm.” Enjoy the summer and all the wonderful food and activities Michigan has to offer!
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Dairy Packs a Punch with Protein


Have you ever noticed that when you eat a healthy breakfast, complete with a protein such as milk, cheese or yogurt, you feel satisfied longer? Research is now confirming that eating protein in the morning and throughout the day can prevent overeating and help you maintain a healthy weight. A recent study in the “Journal of Nutrition” found that increased consumption of dairy protein helps dieters lose more fat and maintain lean muscle than other diets.

Eating dairy protein increases “satiety” (your feeling of fullness) and regulates metabolism. Consuming milk, cheese or yogurt is a convenient and tasty way to get protein, which experts recommend be consumed through food rather than supplements.

Other emerging research on protein states the importance of balancing protein intake throughout the day rather than consuming a large amount all at once. The typical American diet often includes an oversized portion of protein at dinner. Instead, try infusing your diet with protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What’s more, dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are affordable sources of protein.Visit UDIM’s new Pinterest page, where you’ll find creative recipes to inspire you as you add protein to your meals throughout the day!

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Five Reasons to Celebrate June Dairy Month


June is Dairy Month! Pour yourself a cool, refreshing glass of milk and read on for five great reasons to celebrate:

1.      Milk is nutritious. With nine essential ingredients, including calcium, vitamin D and protein, a single glass of milk contains as much potassium as a small banana.

2.      Dairy products are a budget-friendly, wholesome food choice. At just 25 cents a glass, milk is a nutritional bargain. Milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are by far the lowest cost food source of calcium available to consumers.

3.      Milk fuels our children. A recent study showed that milk is the No. 1 food source of key nutrients including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein –but contributes only 7 percent of total calories. Current Dietary Guidelines recommend that kids (ages 2-3) get 2 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products daily. Children (ages 4-8) should bump that up to 2 ½ cups, and children over 9 should aim for 3 cups a day.

4.      Drinking milk may help lower your blood pressure. Studies show that the calcium, potassium and magnesium present in dairy products help maintain blood pressure and may help reduce the risk of hypertension. Eating two to three servings of dairy as part of a balanced diet could even help lower blood pressure.

5.      Drinking milk helps your body recover from a workout. The essential nutrients found in milk not only can help refuel your muscles with carbohydrates, they also can reduce muscle breakdown and rehydrate your body. There’s a reason why chocolate milk has become the hottest sports recovery beverage around!


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Spring Into Better Health with Dairy

Finally, it’s spring! It’s a time of renewal when many of us are inspired to update our surroundings, our wardrobes, and our diets. Perhaps you’re thinking of making more healthful dietary choices to help undo those unhealthy eating habits that may have crept in during the long, gray days of winter.

Start with Dairy

If you’re thinking about reevaluating your eating habits, taking a look at your dairy intake is a good place to start. The first question you should ask yourself is “Am I consuming enough dairy?” The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 3 cups per day of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, or yogurt for people nine years and older. Unfortunately, many Americans in this age bracket consume only about half of this recommended amount – on average only 1.6 cup equivalents of dairy a day. Adding just one more daily serving of milk, cheese, or yogurt can help meet the recommendation and close or narrow some of our nutrient gaps, according to a study in Nutrition Research.

Dairy Foods are Among Top Sources of Many Nutrients.

Milk and other dairy foods are tasty, convenient, and relatively affordable. They also provide a unique package of nutrients essential for good health and are an important part of any healthy diet. A new study in the journal Nutrients reinforces the importance of consuming nutrient-rich foods, such a low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt to help U.S. adults 19 years and older meet nutrient recommendations within their calorie needs. This study found that milk ranked No. 1 as a food source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, vitamin A, riboflavin, and phosphorus, and contributed only 3.8 percent of calories. Also, milk and cheese together accounted for nearly half of the calcium, nearly a quarter of the phosphorus, and slightly more protein than either poultry or beef.

Dairy’s Health Benefits Reinforced.

Intake of dairy foods is associated with health benefits. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines state “moderate evidence shows dairy consumption is associated with improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and with lower blood pressure in adults.” Newer scientific evidence reviewed in Nutrition Reviews led the authors to conclude “consuming more than three servings of dairy per day leads to better nutrient status and improved bone health and is associated with lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.”

Looking for Fresh Ideas to Boost your Dairy Intake?

Clearly, there are good reasons to spring into healthy dairy habits. To incorporate more dairy foods in your diet, visit National Dairy Council’s “30 Days of Dairy” and its Recipe Index.

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