Top 10 Memories from 2011

We had another busy year and made many memories.  It’s tough to choose just 10; but here, in no particular order, is my top 10 list:

Celebrating 80 years of nutrition education in Indiana through our Dairy Council.  Indiana dairy farmers are long time supporters of nutrition research and education for the health of Hoosiers.

Dining at the home of Jim Irsay!  We partner with the Colts to bring improved nutrition and fitness experiences to Indiana school students.  That partnership yielded an invitation that I was thrilled to accept and gave me a rare opportunity to chat with Mr. Irsay about our Fuel Up to Play 60 program.

Celebrating 100 years of Indy car racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Indiana dairy farmers and the racing fraternity have a special bond:  milk.  We produce it.  They drink it to celebrate winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.  That’s why, in Indiana, we know that Winners drink milk!®

Helping our two dairy farmer milkmen get ready to present the famous bottle of milk in Victory Circle following the Indianapolis 500.  This year I was very close to the action!  How exciting!

Attending our annual Dairy Summit.  More than 250 registered dietitians and school nutrition professionals came to the conference to learn from experts about the new dietary guidelines, the benefits of flavored milk at school and chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink.

Visiting several dairy farms during the Kentuckiana Dairy Exchange in Indiana.  Each year, dairy farmers from Kentucky and Indiana get together to tour farms and swap ideas.  We have a varied and vibrant dairy industry in Indiana and it was great to spend some time on several fascinating farms.

Watching Diane Ruyack receive her 35-year service award at our annual meeting.  I’ve had the privilege to work with Diane for many years and was so grateful to see her be recognized for a long career sharing the good nutrition news about dairy products on behalf of Indiana’s dairy farmers.

Unveiling the cheese sculpture at the Indiana State Fair.  For several years, we’ve brought Sarah Kaufmann, cheese sculptor, to our great state fair to create a work of art from huge blocks of cheese delighting thousands of fair-goers!

Hosting Dairy Day at Victory Field.  We entertained Indiana dairy farmers at the beautiful ball park in June.  It was a great time for visiting and showcasing dairy at the ball game.

Announcing that 2012 is the Year of Dairy Cows at the Indiana State Fair!

Holiday Leftover Recipes

By Michelle Plummer

Well, we have made it past the last holiday food frenzy with much success!  The ham was delicious and not over cooked, rosemary and roasted garlic mashed potatoes were a hit! Here is a hint, unless your brother-in-law is from the old country and is use to grandmother having the entire house smell of garlic at 9:00 am; plan ahead!  None the less dinner was wonderful…but the leftovers, as families downsize consumption, in actual number, and taking home said delicacies….your refrigerator looks like a display for the ‘store & save’ container company!  This is what I am planning for the next few days of meals at home, NO SHOPPING necessary!

Using the leftover pie dough, make a quiche using eggs, milk, cream, bits and pieces of cheese some simple veggies and add a side salad in less than 60 minutes. Not only is it nutrient delicious and colorful but it is different than the last 8 meals of roasted meat, mashed something and ‘little’ wrapped something!  As a little side note, many years ago I had the privilege to assist Howard Helner (known for making the fastest omelets) and his recipe for quiche is never fail.


6  Eggs, salted and peppered
1  Frozen deep-dish pie shell (or a sheet of refrigerated pie crust in a 9-in pie shell)
1  Cup of half & half or whole milk ,or 2% milk,

2  Cups of anything in your fridge that seems like it’ll work
1  Cup of shredded any kind of cheese

Preheat oven to 425-F.  Pierce the pie crust all over with a fork.  Bake, unfilled, for about 8-minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, half & half or milk, cheese and anything else and empty it all into the pre-baked pie shell.   Reduce the oven to 325-F and bake for 35 or 40 minutes.  Let it rest for 5-minutes before serving.

Well, what about dinner?  This is the best meal to hide little bits of this and that!  Mis Matched Macaroni and Chees!  Everyone has a basic mac and cheese recipe, and I am no different, however, I rarely make mac and cheese the same way twice.  Macaroni, some cheese- keep using up the bits and pieces—cream cheese and mascarpone are divine, cheese ball…why not!, then sauté or steam diced veggies from the leftover vegetable tray, and chop ham, chicken, roasted beef anything on hand.  My new favorite addition is sweet potatoes, remove the skins, the marshmallows sugar and mash them into the cheese sauce…Delicious and one more vegetable the kids are eating without the fight!

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Looking Back… Indiana State Fair 2010

Elles Niessen, the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess, is our guest blogger today. We hope that you enjoy learning about her memorable experiences at the Indiana State Fair.

            I realize that the Indiana State Fair has been over for almost a month, but I still want to share my experiences

Elles, second from right, at Indiana State Fair Dairy Show.

from it since I’ve attended it every year since I was in the 4th grade. To make it even better, this year I got to experience it as the 2010 Indiana Dairy Princess. First, I had the privilege of helping hand out ribbons and welcoming everyone to both dairy shows during the State Fair this year. I was also able to attend one of the milking events where we taught the public about the milking process and allowed them to ask questions about it and dairy cows in general. Every day at the state fair, I met and interacted with many new people who share a love for the dairy industry and try a variety of dairy products, like fried butter. For example, I attended the ice cream crank off in the Pioneer Village and taste-tested all of the different homemade ice cream flavors, like chocolate covered strawberry. Yum!

            Not only did I get to experience that event, but I also welcomed and educated the public about the importance of consuming three servings of milk and other dairy products every day while standing outside of the Dairy Bar. I was handing out “I love milk” stickers to kids when an adult asked if she could have some to take home to her grandchildren. This is when I thought of the idea to propose her with a DAIRY question to make her earn the stickers

Elles & Buttercup in the daily State Fair parade.

while engaging her dairy knowledge. It actually turned into a fun game for those waiting in line, while also getting them involved and testing their knowledge one person at a time J . The Dairy Bar also provided me with plenty of milk shakes and grilled cheese sandwiches to keep me on my feet, especially for the evening parade. In the parade, I rode the float with my side kick, Buttercup the Cow. It was probably my favorite part of the State Fair because people knew we were promoting the dairy industry with our logo “Winners Drink Milk.”

            The whole fair experience was great, and I probably had my picture taken over twenty times. I know that there were many girls there who dream of becoming the Indiana Dairy Princess when they get older. Even though you may think I helped the public become more knowledgeable about the dairy industry, I believe this was a great learning experience for me. I only showed Holstein cows and heifers at my county fair, so this opportunity gave me the chance to learn many valuable things about judging different dairy breeds and the specific details judges look for in larger shows like that at the State Fair. I enjoyed my experience greatly and hope to see many more people at Kelsay Farms on October 23rd, where I will next be seen following through with my legend!

Do South Bend School Meal Programs Make the Grade?

By Stefany Jones, Dietetics Intern, Purdue University

The National School Lunch Program provides meals for over 30 million children in the US every day.  Everywhere you look, school meals have come under more scrutiny by the media, parents, students, and those concerned with the health of our youth. Recently, Newsweek issued a “Back to School” feature article highlighting school lunch deficiencies and improvements across the country, and just last week, the South Bend Tribune featured “Send the School Menu to Detention”, written by a seventh grader concerned with the fat content of meals at LaSalle Intermediate Academy in South Bend. Wanting to know more, I set out to interview some of the people involved in meal planning and preparation, as well as observe and experience, for myself, some of our local school meal offerings.

I first stopped at Monroe Primary to observe their breakfast program and to tour the facility with Karen Case, Nutrition Facilitator for South Bend Community Schools.

As I entered the cafeteria, the smell of citrus greeted us. Tables full of students and breakfast trays brimming with milk, oranges, cereal, and breakfast sandwiches filled the room. Moving along to the breakfast line, children began assembling their meal by choosing a carton of milk from boxes of low fat, fat-free, white and flavored milks. Reduced-sugar versions of kids’ favorite cereals, like “Frosted Flakes” and fiber-containing “Total Raisin Bran” were also available. Instead of cereal, students could choose a breakfast sandwich consisting of half of an English muffin topped with an egg, turkey Canadian bacon, and reduced fat cheese. Finally, breakfast-eers could choose a fruit in fresh form or as 4 oz. of calcium and vitamin D fortified 100% fruit juice. Behind the scenes in the kitchen, not a fryer was in sight! “Not a bad breakfast!” said my dietetics intern inner-voice.

On to lunch.

I then ventured on to LaSalle Intermediate Academy for lunch. First, I grab my fat-free milk. Hmm…today’s entrée choices? Filet of fish on a whole wheat bun (tartar sauce, optional) and beef tacos (Karen said that all beef is well drained of fat before it’s included in an entrée). Not being in the mood for either of those, I opted for a pre-made romaine-blend salad (offered daily) topped with chicken, shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and reduced-fat Ranch dressing. Next, I grabbed an apple from the basket loaded with 4 different fresh fruits daily.  Then, it was time to sit, eat, and mingle with Karen and the kids!

Periodically, school meals are analyzed by a state agency Registered Dietitian for adherence to the USDA’s strict nutrition standards for school meal programs. And how did South Bend’s program measure up? “We were a bit low on calories…our fat content was only slightly over the 30% fat requirement, but our saturated fat fell below the requirement, which is great!” said Karen. Among the school lunch program’s recent improvements, “We’re now offering more fresh fruit and vegetables instead of just canned, and we’re incorporating more whole grain breads.”  Karen says she’s currently working with dairy processors to lower the sugar content in their flavored milks. “We’re always striving to improve the nutrition of our menu offerings,” she adds.

In my opinion, breakfast and lunch both offered tasty and healthy menu options.  What grade would the students give the lunch program? One LaSalle Academy fifth-grader said, “I’d give it an ‘A’ or ‘B’.”

Local Cheeses Well Represented in Indiana!

Cheese and wine just make everything better!  Don’t you agree?  Before I came to the American Dairy Association of Indiana (ADAI), I enjoyed many imported cheeses made from a variety of animal milks, such as the creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella, the sharpness of aged goat cheese, and the saltiness of sheep’s milk feta. Each has their own history and culture.

The longer I work at the ADAI; I get to enjoy more domestic cheeses, rich in heritage, flavor, and passion.  Yes, passion.  I have even had the opportunity to help develop the Gouda that is sold during the Indiana State Fair.  It is made by Swissland Dairy which is owned and operated by Mary and Kirk Johnson Berne, Indiana.  Using this delicious, creamy, buttery cheese on grilled cheese sandwiches at the fair has allowed thousands to enjoy a new cheese variety that can be easily added to their home menu in salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pizzas and on the grill! 

Deutsch Kase Haus is another local Dairy that prepares the Dairy Bar’s staple of Colby at the Indiana State Fair!  The ‘mini horns,’ as they are called, arrive and are sliced almost immediately because we can’t wait to get that first taste!  It’s golden color and mild taste when joined by wheat bread is a perfect adult version of the grilled cheese sandwich.  Some of you may also be familiar with their luscious butter cheese or veggie cheese.  It’s just another Hoosier secret you will want to learn more about while traveling Indiana this Fall.

Fair Oaks Farms has pepper Harvarti cheese which is just fabulous.  Using their own award winning recipe, they have created a cheese that is incredible with salads, potatoes, grilled steaks, or simply with wine and fresh bread!  If you are traveling North or South on I-65, this is definitely a must taste!

Indiana truly has its share of Hoosier cheeses as there are many local cheese makers creating fine artisan products that are available locally and online.  Some of the farmers markets also have a wonderful variety of choices to enjoy. 

What is your favorite domestic cheese? If it is locally made, who is your favorite cheese artisan?

Breakfast… Not Just for Kids!

During September, National Breakfast Month, concentrate on eating breakfast such as cereal, milk and juice or a fruit smoothie.  Breakfast kick starts our day, providing nutrients to the brain as well as the body. Even better is that breakfast is for everyone! Adults benefit from eating breakfast by the following:

From New England Dairy & Food Council.
  • Less likely to overeat high calorie foods throughout the day
  • Helps decrease overall fat intake throughout the day
  • Achieves & maintains appropriate body weight
  • Less likely to snack between meals
  • Gives the needed energy for the day
  • Psychosocial behaviors improve

Of course, children benefits from breakfast, too! Eating breakfast at school helps kids perform better, as shown by them making fewer mistakes as well as having an increase in math and reading scores. In addition, children who eat breakfast at school – closer to class and test-making time – perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast or eat breakfast at home.

School breakfast improves student behavior and learning environments:

  • Lowers rate of absence & tardiness
  • Decreases behavioral & psychological problems
  • Fewer discipline problems
  • Visit school nurses’ offices less often
  • Decreases tardiness and suspensions
  • Increases student attentiveness

Students require nutrients and energy for concentration on academic tasks. Actually, everyone needs food for work, school, and play. Breakfast can provide those nutritional necessities and prevent symptoms such as headache, fatigue, restlessness, and sleepiness from competing with educational outcomes. So, now you may be thinking, “What am I going to eat in the rush of the morning?” Try these simple, quick, and delicious tips recommended by dietitians:

  • Cereal with fruit & skim milk
  • Oatmeal, piece of fruit, & skim milk
  • Fruit-topped pancakes & skim milk
  • Bagel with peanut butter, piece of fruit, & skim milk
  • Whole wheat toast, poached egg, salsa, & skim milk
  • Granola bar, piece of fruit, & yogurt
  • Scrambled egg whites with vegetables, salsa, & skim milk
  • Yogurt parfait layered with fruit & cereal


Some information from K-State Housing & Dining Services.

Cheese Pizza Just For Kids? Think Again!

No matter how you slice it, Americans consume about 100 acres of pizza each day, according to the National Association of Pizza Operators and Pizza Today. This translates to an average of 7.7 pounds of that delicious, stringy mozzarella cheese topping, per person, each year.

However, if you go to many pizzerias, cheese pizza is generally last on the list of pizza offerings right above the kids menu. But wait… cheese pizza can be much more than just that frozen cardboard crust, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese that we grew up with! 

Cheese has become as elegant and as much of a reason to have a party as the reason to serve it at the party! From cheese platters, flights of cheese tastings, and now pizza whether served at home or ordered in restaurants, cheese has become a category of its own. Fresh mozzarella, homemade ricotta, and mascarpone, the list gets richer in flavor and profile. Smoked, aged, brined, and infused are all techniques making cheese pizza the perfect beginning of a dinner party or the special ending to a meal.

Have you tried adding feta to the basic margarita pizza? The added zip from the briny cheese provides that generally missed taste and pungency found in ‘cheese pizza’. Or try adding dollops of mascarpone and berries to a sweet-crust dessert pizza and drizzle it with a balsamic reduction.  These types of cheese choices and parings will have you ordering from the bottom of the list more frequently!

A warning of caution: While these pizza offerings may have you not wanting to waste a morsel; most cheeses here are still full fat and can increase your waist if not careful. Choose to order a vegetable pizza and save the calories for dessert or add one of these ‘select’ cheeses on a small pie, not the super size version. There is truly nothing more comforting than warm, gooey, bubbly, strings and globs of cheese—but be sure to add a bit of balance into those delicious creamy bites.