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!

100 and 80 and 70+

Born out of a commitment for service, matured through the processes of service to health and education, the dairy industry developed and nurtured what is known today as the Dairy & Nutrition Council of Indiana, Inc. 

Those words written thirty years ago evoke strong feelings.  Looking back and reading those words once again, I feel the intense pride in our Indiana dairy farm families that I felt thirty years ago while putting together the program for the Northern Indiana Dairy Council’s 50th anniversary!   My pride stems from knowing Indiana dairy farm families’ dedication to providing, not only good food, but a gold-standard nutrition education program as well.

2011 marks the 80th anniversary of the organization known today as Dairy & Nutrition Council, Inc.  Our materials and programs look different from those of 80 years ago, but our reliance on sound science has never changed.  We continue to work with health professionals, educators and the media delivering current, peer-reviewed nutrition science and information along with practical tips to make a difference in the lives of Hoosiers.

One of the first health messages, 80 years ago, to school children was presented on a book mark:  Eat 3 meals daily including at least ONE GLASS OF MILK WITH EACH MEAL.  Today we are part of Fuel Up To Play 60, a nation-wide nutrition and fitness initiative in more than 70,000 schools across America empowering students to make healthy food and fitness choices.

Our Indiana dairy farm families didn’t stop at nutrition education.  They also nurture and support promotion programs.  The most notable being Winners Drink Milk®, the marketing and public relations efforts around the storied ice cold Drink of Milk in Victory Circle, following the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the first running of that greatest spectacle in racing!  The tradition of drinking milk to celebrate winning the Indy 500 got its start 70+ years ago.  When legendary race driver Louis Meyer pulled into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day 1933 and asked for a cold glass of buttermilk to quench his thirst after 500 grueling miles a tradition was born.  For more than 70 years the drink of milk tradition has remained an endearing part of Indianapolis lore.  In 2005 the drink of milk tradition was named the sports world’s coolest prize by Sports Illustrated on their website.

Today, dairy farmers who serve as directors on the board of Milk Promotion Services of Indiana are selected, in teams of two, to deliver the ice cold milk to the winning driver on race day, helping him or her re-hydrate, refuel and refresh.

Food Fun!

Make fun food!

Can healthy food be fun? Of course it can! As a parent, I am sure you are concerned about making sure your kids get enough calcium and other vitamins and minerals that are found in dairy foods. It might be difficult if you have finicky eaters, so you may need to think of some creative ways to get them to eat and drink the three daily servings of dairy they need. Here are some creative ideas:

Add some excitement to regular milk. Add a touch of flavoring–strawberry or chocolate syrups are a couple of ideas. (These don’t add a significant amount of sugar or calories.)  Even try adding a garnish to the glass like a strawberry on the rim to make it more interesting. You can add some excitement to cereal by adding chocolate or strawberry milk to it for a change of pace as well. Graham crackers or a cookie served with a glass of milk is also a favorite sweet treat.

More cheese please!

Cheese is a great source of calcium and makes food taste great. Put some cheddar in an omelet or on a sandwich. Some other “cheesy” ideas are:

  • Create mini-pizzas by topping whole-wheat English muffins or bagels with pizza sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, or chunks of grilled chicken.  Kids love to have their hand at being a chef, so let them make their pizza with the toppings you provide them.
  • Cut cheese into fun little shapes by using cooking cutters. You can serve it by itself or with whole-grain crackers.  Do the same with a grilled cheese sandwiches by cutting it into a heart or other fun shape.
  • Top vegetables (usually ones that your kids turn their nose up at) with melted low-fat cheese or serve up raw veggies with cream cheese as a snack
  • Use whole-grain tortillas to make wraps. Fill them with eggs and cheese for breakfast; turkey, cheese, choice of vegetables for lunch; and beans, salsa, taco sauce, and cheese for dinner.

Put a cherry on top – or any other fruit!

Serve cottage cheese with fresh fruit or applesauce or try frozen yogurt topped with fruit.  Create parfaits with layers of plain yogurt, fruit, and whole-grain cereal.  

Other ways to zest up of your food. You may not even have to do anything special to the food you are serving to make it exciting. Change how you serve it. Use a colorful or oddly shaped dish. Make fun names for everyday foods. For example, a treat for Halloween could be “Frankenstein’s Fruit Parfait” or “Witches Stew.” 

 Remember that kids love to make their food and have choices in what they eat.

Milk – The Official Beverage of ISSMA Events

The 38th annual ISSMA Marching Band season steps off with District Festivals on October 2nd at seven Indiana sites. The Indiana Dairy Farmers, corporate sponsor for the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA), fund, support and promote music education activities throughout Indiana. 200,000 students participate in music events under the leadership of the ISSMA. The State Marching Band Competition involves more than 16,000 of these students from 174 high schools.

Those bands reaching a predetermined score at District will advance to Regional events held at four locations on October 16th. Bands Enter in Class A, B, C and D

Milk - The official beverage of ISSMA

according to the size of school with Class A being the largest. The top twenty scoring band in each of the four classes from the Regional sites will meet at four Semi-State sites in the Indianapolis area on October 23rd to determine the 10 bands in each class that will participate in the 38th Annual State marching Band Finals. This year’s Finals will be held on October 30th at the Lucas Oil Stadium, where the four State Champion bands will be crowned.

The Indiana Dairy Farmers will present a $1,000 scholarship to a student from each of the four State Champion bands. “There is no

greater drink than milk to be the official beverage of ISSMA events!” commented Jenni Purcell, Registered Dietitian. Purcell continued, “It’s such a great way to fuel up with the nutrition students need to be competition ready.”

For more information, visit or

World School Milk Day

Create a Healthier World

Celebrate the 11th Annual World School Milk Day (WSMD) on Wednesday, September 29!

What is it? An international, annual event that celebrates the importance of school milk in children’s diets. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations actively supports and promotes it.

Who celebrates? Countries throughout the world! In the past, over 40

countries representing every continent celebrated, including Germany, India, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, China, Iceland, Finland, Croatia, Indonesia and Oman.

Why celebrate World School Milk Day? It’s a way to focus on helping children make healthy beverage choices and to bring our world closer

together, thereby raising children’s global awareness.

What’s more, both flavored and white milk provide calcium and eight other essential nutrients that growing children need. Research shows that children who drink milk at school are more likely to meet their daily nutrient needs.

Milk provides three of the five nutrients the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize as being low in children’s diets – calcium, magnesium and potassium.

How do other countries celebrate? Celebrations are unique to each country and involve children in a variety of ways. In previous years:

  • Children from across Australia entered a creative drawing, writing and photography contest. Winning entries were displayed at the Royal Melbourne Show and on Australia’s Discover Dairy Web site.
  • State-wide School Milk Clubs were launched in various schools in Gujarat, India. Eighty schools also participated in a “Milky Way to a Stronger Nation” painting competition. The best three entries received prizes from this His Holy Highness, Lalji Maharaaj Shree Nrigendraprasadji.
  • Over 6,000 children in China participated in an online nutrition competition that had 15 percent of the questions related to milk.
  • Two daylong dairy carnivals in Lahore and Karachi, Pakistanused fun-filled activities that highlighted the benefits of drinking milk to launch a School Milk Ambassador Program.
  • In Zagreb, Croatia, children gathered in the main square to celebrate milk with pictures, songs, and milk and dairy foods tastings.
  • Milk was distributed to over 3,600 children in Oman.

Bored with Dinner?

Heather Cupp, a Registered Dietitian working for Riley Hospital, is our guest blogger today. She is a busy mom of two children and knows the stresses of evening meals. We hope that her healthy ideas will inspire your future dinner creations!

Bored with dinner?  Need some easy meal ideas that your family will love?  You’ve come to the right spot! With afterschool practices, games, and other activities finding healthy, creative, and quick dinner ideas can be challenging.  So, here are a few fun ones:

Roll-up:  Tortillas and flat-breads are fun to make dinners with your kids.  Try a flat bread spread with peanut butter then topped with a banana rolled up for a delicious treat. Don’t forget the other food groups!  Adding a glass of milk and some raw veggies with dip completes this delicious meal.

Easy Pizza: 1 whole grain English muffin topped with tomato sauce, turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, and cheese for each person.  Add a side salad and mix some berries with yogurt for a dessert.  You could also have a fun day with the kids by buying some dough (already made or mix), setting out a variety of toppings, and letting them make their own individual pizzas!

Leftover: Be creative with leftovers.  Use chicken to make quesadillas or BBQ chicken sandwiches.  Leftover ground beef or turkey can be made into sloppy joe’s, patty melts, or taco salad the next day.  Use leftover pork roast to make pulled pork sandwiches, quesadillas, or wraps.  You can also be creative by adding these to a salad. 

Shape, Alphabet, or Other Themed Meals: A “c” themed dinner could include a chicken sandwich with cheese, cucumber slices and carrot sticks on the side with fresh cherries for dessert. A circle theme would have crackers, reduced fat cheese cut-outs, melon balls, cherry tomatoes and other circle foods. Or try an ocean theme: tuna salad with goldfish crackers, broccoli trees with dip and blue Jell-O with fruit for dessert.

My family loves when I make these quick, easy, and delicious meals for dinner. I hope yours does, too! Enjoy!

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!