Getting to know Mary Nicholson


What do you do at Indiana Dairy?

My title is Program Coordinator. I work a lot with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program which means being involved with teachers and schools.  I’m also a “liaison” to the Indiana School Nutrition Association.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I get to work with some pretty incredible people.  Every day is different, and it’s certainly not boring!  I enjoy going into a variety of schools all across the state.  I especially enjoy our Great Grow Along program, which allows me an opportunity to talk directly to students.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I grew up in southern Illinois (Centralia), the youngest of 5, and graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Food and Nutrition.  I’ve worked in institutional food service (state mental health center, hospital, and nursing home) before starting a part-time job with the National Dairy Council in Rosemont, IL, in 1988.  That lasted until our family moved to Indianapolis in December of 1998. In 2000, I started working for Indiana Dairy on a part-time basis.  Now that my two children are in college (IUPUI and Purdue), I’ve been working full time. I’ve been married for nearly 29 years (where did the time go?) to J.T.

Tell us a little about someone who has influenced your life and why?

It’s difficult to narrow this down to one person!  Either there have been a number who have influenced me or I’m easily influenced – maybe some of each.  I was definitely influenced early on by a wonderful babysitter who made the best chicken and noodles and had the best lap.  My parents laid a firm foundation while growing up, and various friends and family have had an impact since then.

Do you have a favorite recipe or restaurant to share?

Again, something else that’s difficult to narrow down to one.  If we’re talking Italian, Iaria’s is one of my favorites.  Pat Flynn’s also has awesome soups and sandwiches, plus they always include a warm cookie!


Fuel Up To Play 60 Builds Awareness

By Mary Nicholson

“We’ve had such wonderful experiences using the funds from the FUTP 60 grant.  Our chocolate milk booth was a huge success, our walking/jogging club is moving right along and so much more” says Roberta Sipe, P. E. teacher at Rosa Parks Edison Elementary in Perry Township and advisor for the National Dairy Council and NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 program. This is just one success story we have heard this past year.  Fuel Up to Play 60 helps students learn about nutrition through school-wide Healthy Eating plays as well as the importance of 60 minutes of physical activity every day.  At Rosa Parks Edison Elementary, for every mile increment, the students at Rosa Parks receive a shoe charm.  Another school that has a walking club is Ligonier Elementary.  Their staff and students have walked 62,062 miles since the fall!  For the first 50 miles, the students and staff receive a t-shirt.  After 100 miles, a sweatshirt is awarded. Once they hit 150 miles, the students are fitted with new athletic shoes.

Another continuing success story continues in Crawfordsville at Meredith Nicholson Elementary with Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisor Laura Newman at the helm. With lots of fun activities going on throughout the year, Laura says the biggest change she has noticed is awareness: students are making more nutritious choices in the cafeteria line, and in P.E. class, they are discussing how they are Fueling Up.  The students are excited and highly engaged – and they want to do even more.  Laura and her students have clearly made great strides and a big difference in 2010.  Look out for more from Meredith Nicholson Elementary students in 2011! Continue reading

National School Breakfast Week

By Mary Nicholson

Once again, it’s time to celebrate School Breakfast Week, and this year’s theme is The Search for Super Energy. The “School Breakfast Detectives” campaign allows students to “clue into” the importance of school breakfast and will demonstrate how eating school breakfast sets you up for a busy day at school.

This fun private-eye themed campaign has a design contest and a number of nutrition puzzles so kids can become school breakfast detectives for themselves.

National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of breakfast at school.  Not every school has the ability to offer breakfast at school, but for those who do, it’s a great opportunity that’s sometimes overlooked or underutilized.  We’ve all heard “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and it is so true.  Not only does it provide you with fuel for your brain first thing in the morning, studies are showing that breakfast skippers are twice as likely to be overweight.  And when breakfast is missed, the nutrients that are missed are not made up during the day.  One study ( Lluch, Physiol & Behav 2000; 68:515) noted that skipped energy at breakfast is not made up —   hunger, preoccupation with food and food cravings linger — even at day’s end. Continue reading

The Many Faces of Nutrition

Over 200 Registered Dietitians and Food Service Directors attended the Indiana Dairy and Nutrition Council’s Annual Summit – “The Many Faces of Nutrition” – at the Colt’s Complex on February 22. It was a packed day of great information. The Dairy and

Nutrition Council of Indiana (DNCI) has been providing nutrition and wellness education for 80 years. Some of the comments the guests had were: “Whatever the topic the DNCI presents I always benefit!” and “This day was full of nutritional information and fun.”

There were five speakers on the agenda. Dr. Robert Murray was the first speaker up who is a professor of Pediatrics and Pediatric GI

Dr. Robert Murray spoke on the new Dietary Guidelines at the DNCI Summit.

 and Nutrition at the Ohio State University. He presented on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and quality nutrition.    To get an understanding of what MyPyramid represents, you may want to become familiar with what the 2005 Dietary Guidelines emphasize. Nutrient-dense foods provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively fewer calories. These foods will be found in the wide bottom of each color band on the pyramid. He focused his talk on how children AND adults need to think about the nutrients in food we need to consume, for example, calcium, Vitamin D, protein and potassium.  They should not focus solely on the contents of food to avoid.

Next up on the list of speakers was Doug Adams who is the President of Prime Consulting Group. He has over thirty years of sales, research and management consulting experience in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry.  He spoke on the importance of offering flavored milk in schools to children by discussing a recent study.  The study revealed that eliminating chocolate and other flavored milks from school cafeteria menus resulted in a dramatic drop in milk consumption along with a substantial reduction in nutrients—which are not easy or affordable to replace.

Jenni Purcell RD, the Director of Communications for the Dairy and Nutrition Council, presented ways to connect with your local media and the importance of social media to get out your nutritional message. Diane Ruyack, RD, the Director of Nutrition Programs for the Dairy and Nutrition Council, presented on Fuel up to Play 60. Fuel up To Play 60 is a nationwide movement focused on fighting childhood obesity by empowering kids to take control of their own health. Find out more by visiting

Last but not least, Erika Whitman spoke who is a registered dietitian and is currently the sports nutritionist at the University of Notre Dame. She discussed using chocolate milk as a refueling agent after exercise. Emerging research shows milk may be as or more effective than other post-exercise beverages to help the body recover. Milk has a powerful nutrient package that supplies the

The Dairy and Nutrition Council is celebrating 80 years of nutrition education this year.

nutrition the body needs after exercise. White and chocolate milk provides 9 essential nutrients for athletes. Milk is a source of complete, high-quality protein that can help reduce muscle breakdown and stimulate repair and growth after exercise.

There was even a surprise appearance by Buttercup, DNCI’s mascot, who brought a cake to help celebrate the day and 80 years of nutrition education.  (Buttercup was escorted by Mary Nicolson.)

How do you get more nutrients into your child’s lunch box without spending hours of preparation?

By Diane Ruyack

A Breakfast for lunch idea could be a toasted whole-grain waffle sandwich spread with almond butter, or any nut butter and low-sugar jam. A variation is low fat cream cheese and cinnamon and spice topping. Throw in a piece of fresh fruit on the side. Make sure that there is money for milk!

Yogurt parfaits make a great lunch. Pack a single-serve container of yogurt, a baggie full of granola or other high-fiber cereal, a package of raisins or freshly rinsed blueberries and a spoon. Just add milk and your child would have 2 servings of milk in one meal.

Another new sandwich can be made by spreading a spinach or whole-wheat wrap with low-fat cream cheese, shredded carrots, and your choice of raisins, shredded raw spinach, chopped black olives, diced turkey, or cooked black beans.

A chef salad packs a nutritional wallop with lots of fiber and vitamin-rich veggies. Layer bite-size pieces of romaine lettuce from a bag  with sliced ham and low-fat cheese and as many veggies as possible: diced or shredded carrots, sliced celery or mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes, and leftover cooked beets or green beans. Plastic disposable containers or squirt bottles make ideal containers for salad dressing.

For the dainty eater,  spread whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, with sweet butter and sliced hard-boiled egg or thinly sliced meat, cheese and cut into triangles. Add cup of diced fruit in own juices and always a cold serving of milk, either white or chocolate.

Toss leftover cooked pasta (preferably whole-wheat) with leftover cooked veggies and chicken or frozen peas, carrots and corn. Add diced hard-boiled egg, sunflower seeds, tofu or other proteins as desired. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan and toss with a few tablespoons of Italian dressing.

An old stand-by is  toasted whole wheat bread with a layer of peanut butter and a layer of sliced banana. Great way to get protein, carbohydrates and vitamins in a sweet and tasty concoction.

On the run? Pack a baggie full of low-sodium almonds or cereal mix,  a washed apple, and a cheese stick for a power packed lunch.

For the adventurous, include a small container of store-bought hummus, a baggie full of carrot, celery, and red pepper strips, and a package of whole-wheat pita cut into triangles. Don’t forget to add milk.

Colts Fitness Camp

By Mary Nicholson

Students all around Indiana are getting a workout with Colts alumni player and Super Bowl XXLI winner, Mike Prior!  In conjunction with Dairy & Nutrition Council’s Fuel Up to Play 60, Mike and his team involve students in a 45 minute workout with jump ropes, free weights and calisthenics.  The fitness camps teach students how to warm-up, workout properly and live a healthy lifestyle. Not only is the importance of being physically active stressed, but eating properly is also addressed.  These two topics are the key components of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, a collaboration between the National Dairy Council and the NFL.

Ten Fuel Up to Play 60 schools that applied for funding earlier this school year were chosen to receive a Colts Fitness Camp from the Dairy & Nutrition Council. Each camp is composed of three 45 minute workout sessions, with different students at each session. Twenty five other schools also are participating in the fitness camps. This translates to more than 4700 students benefiting from this fun opportunity.

After each session, each participant receives a pint of chocolate milk in order to fuel up!  The milk is provided by Prairie Farms and Deans dairies.  Dairy & Nutrition Council also provides bags, sweatbands, and nutrition information; the Colts provide pennants, posters, and prizes; and other camp supporters provide water bottles and/or pedometers so the participants a have a great face to face experience of health and physical activity in one packet.


ABCs of Unique Teacher Gifts

By: Diane Ruyack

It’s so easy to take for granted how many hours before, during, and after work that teachers put in to teach our children. Since some people are crafty, we thought we’d give you some  ideas for fun gifts you can make or purchase for your child’s teacher this year.

A= Apple shaped hand sanitizer for her desk

B= Fabric-covered button thumbtacks or magnets

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric-covered button starter kit (we used the Dritz brand in the 3/4″ size, but you can use any size to suit your taste)
  • Pliers
  • Scraps of fun fabric slightly larger than the size of your buttons
  • Strong craft glue, such as E6000
  • Thumbtacks or magnets

Cover buttons as directed and glue on thumbtacks or magnets-EASY and USEFUL

C= Cheese basket or gift bags with cheese and crackers and holiday napkins

D= Deck of cards and book of card game rules

E= Expensive socks, still under $10

F= Fancy chocolate bars tied with a ribbon

G= Gel pens and pretty stationary

H= Home baked bread, cookies, etc. include recipe

I= Indiana locally grown or made items: honey, soaps, jams, jellies, artwork

Continue reading