Milk & Milk Alternatives… Here’s the Facts

If you are considering a milk alternative for any reason at all, please first make sure that you have all of the facts.

To start with, milk offers more nutrients per penny than almost any other beverage option in the grocery store and is one of the most nutrient-rich foods on your grocery list.  Milk is a great source of calcium and is naturally rich in vitamin B12.  Milk also provides a natural nutrient package that soy and other calcium-fortified foods can’t beat. 

In addition, milk provides the same great nutrient package every time, no matter which brand you choose.  Milk is required to conform to a federal standard of identity, which governs fat content and nutritional fortification levels; soy and other substitute beverages are not required to conform to a standard of identity.

Ounce for ounce, milk is far and away the best source of calcium for your money.  Milk substitute beverages are poor natural sources of calcium so they must be fortified to be calcium-rich, unlike milk.  Soy beverage companies use different methods to fortify their products, depending on the brand, and there is no federal standard of the nutrient profile of the product.

Calcium absorption from substitute beverages is dependent upon what type of calcium fortifier will be utilized. Some fortificants provide calcium absorption similar to that of cow’s milk, while calcium from other substitute beverages can be up to 25% less well absorbed than cow milk calcium. Substitute beverage manufacturers are not required to disclose which fortificant is used; thus consumers may find it difficult to make informed choices. Additionally, the calcium in substitute beverages tends to settle at the bottom of the container and even shaking the container doesn’t completely distribute the mineral within the product.  You would actually need the equivalent of a hardware store paint shaker to suspend the calcium.

If you are considering a milk alternative because you think you might suffer from lactose intolerance, consider trying lactose-free dairy products.  They provide the same nutritional benefits found in traditional dairy foods except the lactose (milk sugar) is already broken down for you.  There are a wide variety of lactose-free dairy products available in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores including reduced-fat, low-fat, fat-free and chocolate milk, ice cream and cottage cheeses just to name a few.  The results of a taste acceptance study of 893 adults aged 18 to 64 indicate that lactose-free milks score substantially better regarding taste acceptance and liking than do soy beverage products.

Science shows that consuming at least three daily servings of milk, cheese and yogurt not only helps people meet their daily calcium requirements, but may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, obesity and heart disease. Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-rich and they contribute significant nutrition to Americans’ diets. Nutrition experts agree milk and milk products are an important and practical source of key nutrients for all people – including those who are lactose intolerant.

(Heaney, RP et al. Not all calcium fortified beverages are equal. Nutrition Today. 2005; 40(1): 39-44.) 
(Palacios OM,  et al. Consumer Acceptance of Cow’s Milk Versus Soy Beverages: Impact of Ethnicity, Lactose Tolerance And Sensory Preference Segmentation. Journal of Sensory Studies, 2009; 24:5.)

Flags, Freedom, & the Fourth of July

It just would not be July 4th without my Mom’s macaroni and cheese (more cheese than macaroni really), hot dogs on the grill with homemade coney sauce and my Aunt Jackie (keeping the cousins in line by telling them if they were going to help make ice cream they had to eat their dinner) Lemon custard ice cream!  It was so exciting for all us when Aunt Jackie would come out of the garage with the wooden barrel crank ice cream maker and the Scotch cooler loaded with ice!  “Just a few more minutes”, she would say as she rushed in the house to get another tray of goodies!  Aunt Jackie’s house was the best place to go, she always had little bottle cokes, coffee with your own special cup and ice cream….just the best!  She gave everyone a job, from pouring the chilled liquid into the canister to adding the paddle to adding ice and salt.  After the assemble was all done , I swear we learned to count by churning ice cream, first with 20 cranks and as it become more firm 10 cranks.  With all the cousins we got to crank from youngest to oldest…I didn’t think I would ever get my turn!  Finally the mixture had thickened and the paddle emerged with creamy pale lemon colored ice cream.  Aunt Jackie handed out the spoons quickly so we all got the first taste!  Then off to the kitchen to freeze while she prepared the fresh berries and cake.

Aunt Jackie and Mom would emerge from the kitchen door and yell, “Who wants ice cream?” and the line formed quickly.  Pieces of cake and berries in a bowl covered with a ladle of creamy lemon goodness.  Guaranteed the parents could have a few moments of quiet!

Aunt Jackie’s Lemon Custard
2 quarts ½ and ½                                                              2 ½ pints heavy whipping cream
8 eggs                                                                                   2 cups sugar
½ tsp salt                                                                             3 tablespoons vanilla
½ tsp lemon extract

Scald the ½ and ½ and cream.  Carefully mix in the eggs and cook until the custard coats a spoon, or until you’re tired of working at the stove (do this the night before).  Incidentally, it’s best to cook a custard slowly over hot water in a double boiler or you may wind up with creamy hard-boiled eggs, which are not often called for in recipes.  Mix in all that wonderful, pure-cane sugar, vanilla, salt, and lemon extract.  Cool all in the refrigerator overnight.  Pour into the cream can and freeze according to your machine’s directions.  Scoop the ice cream into a container, cover with waxed paper (not sure why, but Aunt Jackie always did and that’s good enough for me) and freeze for an hour or so as it will be soft. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite homemade ice cream recipe?

Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment Giveaway

As June Dairy Month comes to and end and July Ice Cream Month begins we have just what you need to get ready for summer!

The Giveaway: One lucky winner will recieve a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Stand Mixer Attachment. You will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is picked. I will contact you by email so please leave your email address in you comment.

How to enter:
Open to US residents only
Giveaway will end Friday, July 2 at 4:30 p.m. EDT

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 23 entries so far… you're next!

  1. Jayne Sanchez-Flanagan
  2. I need a kitchen aid ice cream maker attachment!
  3. Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker AttachmentVisit
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  1. Thanks for the chance! Id never heard of this attachment but would love to have it!
  2. Indiana milk products make the best ice cream and I want to spoil my family with the best! I would love to win
  3. Yumm… looks like fun too! We always serve ice cream for special occasions!
  4. Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment GiveawayVisit
  5. Who Doesnt Love Ice Cream?Visit
  6. Becky Freeman – Ice cream is my favorite food!
  7. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice scream
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Scream for Ice Cream

Join the American Dairy Association of Indiana and its Hoosier Dairy Farm Families as they “Scream for Ice Cream” at the 21st annual Ice Cream Social on the Circle!

Delicious chocolate, strawberry, caramel, and butterscotch sundaes are on the menu on Friday, July 9, from 11 am to 2 pm, on the northwest quadrant of Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis.

For just $3, ice cream lovers can indulge their taste buds with enormous sundaes made from delicious Edy’s Slow Churned Light Ice Cream drizzled with a variety of Smuckers syrups, sprinkled with an array of toppings and crowned with a gigantic dollop of whipped cream.

 All monies raised through the sale of sundaes will benefit Marlin Jackson’s Fight For Life Foundation. The organization impacts the lives of underprivileged youth by focusing on programming in the areas of education and wellness. The Foundation is dedicated to enlightening children on how to overcome the peer pressures of poverty by encouraging positive behaviors in an effort to reach their dreams and goals. Last year, sales of more than 2700 sundaes in three hours raised in excess of $8600 for Jackson’s foundation.

Always a crowd favorite – Celebrity Scoopers! Over 30 local celebrity scoopers will help prepare sundaes from six serving tents positioned around the northwest quadrant of the Circle.

Among Celebrity Scoopers scheduled to participate are:

 Marlin Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

Jim O’Brien, Fox 59

Zuri Hall, The Face of MyNDY-TV

Hink, Butler Bulldogs mascot

Dave Russell, Brownfield Ag Network

Ray Cortopassi, Fox 59

Pamela Altmeyer, CEO, Gleaners Food Bank

Bill Remeika, Fox 59

Boomer, Indiana Pacers mascot

Scott Jones, Fox 59

Melvin Bullitt, Indianapolis Colts

Bridget Sloan, USA Gymnastics Olympian

Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts

Paul Poteet, Indiana’s Weatherman

Ashley Adamson, WISH-TV

Anne Marie Tiernon, WTHR-TV

Angela Cain, WTHR-TV

Stewart Goodwin, Executive Director, Indiana War Memorials

Deborah Smith, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana

1st Sgt. Dave Bursten, Indiana State Police

Sherman Burdette, Fox 59

Chief Paul Ciesielski, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Jolene Ketzenberger, Indianapolis Star

Sgt. Anthony Emery, Indiana State Police

Hunter, WZPL

Abdul, WXNT

Pat Carlini, My107.9

Other attractions scheduled include face-painters, the Indiana Pacers interactive Fan Van, and Molly the Cow and her calf from Purdue University Dairy Sciences (yes – real, live cows!!).

Mascots from the Indianapolis area will make appearances throughout the day. Guests will enjoy meeting Maxwell from Indianapolis Animal Care & Control, the Indianapolis Indians’ Rowdie, CoCo from Caribbean Cove, Hink The Bulldog from Butler University, and of course the beloved Buttercup from the American Dairy Association. Personalities from Entercom Indianapolis radio stations WZPL 99.5 FM, My107.9 FM, and WXNT/News-Talk 1430 AM will also be on site to entertain the crowds.

For more information about the Ice Cream Social on the Circle, call the American Dairy Association at 317/842.7955 or log on at

Enjoy the Great Outdoors with Delicious Food

I have a secret…I am not a great outdoors camper… I only lasted 2 weeks as a Girl Scout!  Camping may not be for me, but for thousands it is their one escape they look forward to every year.  Whether you camp to enjoy the smells, sounds, and subtleness of the wilderness or you go to escape the city, I still want to give you some cooking and packing tips to help make your trip as successful as possible.  I look at camping much like catering (which I know a lot about).  Cold foods must stay cold and sanitation is key so the group doesn’t get sick and the great outing isn’t ruined.  State parks are full all season long with tents, RVs, campfires and the joyous sounds crackling wood while cooking over an open fire.

                   How To Build a Campfire               You can search on how to make the perfect fire, use a Coleman grill or cook inside the RV.  Any way you choose there are some basics you need to remember so the cold foods stay cold and hot foods are cooked to the right temperature and served properly.  Nothing worse than feeling under the weather while away from home!

Prepare a menu and pack it as it will be used to maximize space as well as limit the opening/closing of coolers and/or refrigeration stations.  Select foods that can be reworked into other dishes with minimal ingredients:

  • Burgers   >>>   sloppy Joes   >>>   chili over Fritos with cheese
  • Meatloaf   >>>   burgers   >>>   tacos

Other recommendations include:

  • Bring chicken or chops camping freeze them in marinade, and figure 1/person to help reduce leftovers.
  • Double wrap potatoes in foil to place in fire to bake.  Cut up leftovers to add with eggs the next day for a skillet dish.
  • Lunch & Snack Ideas: hot dogs, PB & J, and assorted dips with veggies & fruit
  • Brats can be cooked in beer for dinners.  Add kraut to the same skillet for a festive evening.

Packing & Storage

  • Use resealable bags to keep foods sealed and leak free.  Freeze items flat so they can double as cooler cubes for packing.  Boxes (better for stacking than bags) of frozen vegetables are great chillers and perfect for cooking.  Frozen vegetables are blanched and can be ready served.
  • Bring frozen foods that can be used as they thaw, if they are already in marinade, all the better!
  • Think about packing & minimizing.  Use individual serve condiments like those from McCormick (see previous blog on McCormick pre-packed spices).  Buy ingredients that will last only the time you are camping; less to bring home.
  • Minimize your cookware by having each item work several duties. Wooden spoons are great because they have 2 ends to use. Discard when done (3/$1.00).  Use disposable utensils, eating ware & drink ware.  If you wish to go green, provide each family member with a ‘for them’ color of ware for the outing and keep it all together in mesh bags.

Cooler Space

  • Use the freezer vegetables and meats as the ‘ice’ for the refrigerated items.  Check your recipes to make sure you have all the correct ingredients. It may help to bundle them and place the frozen items as the dividers.
  • It may be hard to keep milk cold enough on a trip, so use items like frozen yogurt ‘pops’ or freeze yogurt cups to serve for dessert or a cool snack.  Cheese is great anytime, and boxed dry milk can be added to pancake mixes, casseroles, and soups to provide calcium without having to worry about the cold factor.

International Picnic Day

Enjoy family, food and fun outdoors with a picnic this summer!

Today is International Picnic Day! So dust off the baskets, grab the  blankets or chairs, and grab a bottle of wine, lemonade or something cold to drink and go! Picnics date back to Medieval hunting feasts and informal outdoor banquets of the social and wealthy. Picnic, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is an outing or occasion that involves taking a packed meal to eat outdoors. It is believed that originally a picnic was similar to a potluck, where each person present would bring a specific dish. The exact moment when picnic went from meaning everyone bring food, to everyone eat outdoors is unknown. Not only is the food consumed during the picnic important but the spirit and celebration of dining outdoors that makes it special.

Here are some quick tips to make your picnic experience go smoothly:

  • Pack your picnic basket with what you need 1st on top such as a tablecloth or silverware on top.
  • Keep cold food cold and warm food warm to prevent spoiling. Don’t place warm food in your cooler. Wrap the dish in towels.
  • Store any uncooked food (if you are grilling) separately from cooked, prepared food.
  • Place your food in zippered baggies and then on top of the ice in your cooler. This keeps food from getting wet once your ice starts melting

Remember, a cooler is indispensable for keeping food fresh. If you use freezer packs, don’t forget to add a bag of ice. The cubes not only keep the cooler chilled, they can be popped into drinks later.

Get out of the ham sandwich rut and try a relaxed picnic menu. Have kid-friendly foods so that it is simple and easy to assemble! Bake chicken fingers a day ahead and chill. Slide each one onto a wooden skewer, wrap in a bunch and chill. Don’t forget to pack a small container of ketchup or honey-mustard for dipping. Kids love the fun of eating off the sticks! Put veggies, cheese and/or fruit on the sticks to make a variety of kabobs.

Activities are an important part of any fun picnic. Sack races, treasure hunts, baseball or Frisbee, all require minimal equipment and will provide fun for every family member. These activities also help get your 60 minutes of physical activity in that you need a day!

Picnics aren’t only for summertime. Simple picnic ideas include having a winter picnic. Go for a hike through the forest and bring along hot soup or hot chocolate in an insulated flask or thermos. Bring sleds and scoot down nearby hills or engage the kids in a snowball fight. Winter picnics can be just as much fun as those held in the summer.

Whether you hold your picnic in the winter or summer, or if your event includes kids or just adults, simple picnic ideas are plentiful and fun to come up with. Be creative and most of all have fun.

Men Also Affected By Osteoporosis

Are you or your father at risk of osteoporosis? Today, 2 million American men have osteoporosis, and another 12 million are at risk. Yet, despite the large number of men affected, osteoporosis in men remains under-diagnosed and underreported. So, this Father’s Day help your dad learn more about his risks of osteoporosis so that he can be healthy for years to come!

During youth, bones grow in length and density. During the teen years, maximum height is reached, but bones continue to grow denser until about age 30 when peak bone mass is attained. After that point, bones slowly start to lose density or strength. Throughout life, bone density is affected by heredity, diet, sex hormones, physical activity, lifestyle choices and the use of certain medications. Men have larger, stronger bones than women which explains, in part, why osteoporosis affects fewer men than women. Bone loss increases with age and heredity, and white males have the greatest risk for osteoporosis. However, men from all ethnic groups develop this disease.

The following risk factors are associated with osteoporosis in men:

  • Prolonged exposure to certain medications, such as steroids used to treat asthma or arthritis, anticonvulsants, certain cancer treatments & aluminum-containing antacids.
  • Chronic disease that affects the kidneys, lungs, stomach & intestines and alters hormone levels.
  • Undiagnosed low levels of the sex hormone testosterone.
  • Lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, low calcium intake and lack of exercise are additional risk factors.

If there is a loss of height, change in posture or sudden back pain, it is important to inform your doctor. A bone mineral density test can be conducted to diagnose osteoporosis. Experts agree that all persons should take the following steps to preserve bone health.

  • Recognize & treat any underlying medical conditions that affect bone health. Identify & evaluate the use of medications that are known to cause bone loss.
  • Change unhealthy habits, such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, & inactivity.
  • Be sure to get enough calcium each day to keep bones healthy.  Men under age 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and men age 50 & over need 1,200 mg of calcium daily.
  • Make sure to get adequate vitamin D.  Men under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily, and men age 50 & over need 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. 
  • Engage in a regular regimen of weight-bearing exercises where bone & muscles work against gravity. This includes walking, jogging, racquet sports, stair climbing & team sports. Also, lifting weights or using resistance machines appears to help preserve bone density. Exercise also improves balance & muscle tone and imparts a sense of well-being. If you’ve already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, any exercise program should be evaluated for safety by your doctor before you begin. Twisting motions & impact activities may need to be curtailed depending on the severity of your condition.
  • Check with your physician about medications that can slow or stop bone loss.