If you are looking to increase your consumption of dairy products this holiday season, look no further than the hors d’oeurves plate at your next holiday party!
Milk, cheese and other dairy products are a great way to achieve our daily needs of 1,000-1,200 mg calcium, vitamin D and protein, all of which play important roles in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and muscles.
A good source of calcium contains more than 300 mg of calcium per serving on the nutrition facts label. Examples include, 1 cup of milk (or fortified milk alternative), ¾ cup greek or regular yogurt, ½ cup cottage cheese, or a 50 gram serving of hard cheese.
While glasses of milk don’t always make an appearance on the party table, low fat cheese (20% milk fat or less) is a great protein rich snack for a holiday party. A 50 gram serving provides a filling 8 grams of protein and 300 mg of calcium. Because of its protein content, cheese is a great way to tide your dinner guests over until the main course arrives.
Keep in mind though, that because of the small serving size, it is easy for the calories and fat in cheese to quickly add up with each pass of the cheese platter.
When serving cheese as an appetizer, try making cheese kabobs paired with either vegetables or fruit, as a delicious way to manage portions! Choose cheeses with 20% milk fat or less and include some lower sodium options such as Swiss cheese or Bocconcini.
Cheddars and mozzarellas go great with cherry tomatoes and peppers, while Brie and Camembert are excellent with grapes, apples, or berries. Making a platter of kabobs, with some extra vegetables and fruit on the side can entice guests to take seconds of the lower calorie vegetables and fruit. When you see your guests are going for seconds and third, take it as a good indication that they are ready for the main meal!
Here are some other delicious ideas for enjoying dairy during the holiday season and all year round!
1. Greek yogurt is a fan favorite of mine! Greek yogurt is more heavily strained than regular yogurt, which concentrates the protein in the product. Regular yogurt contains 8 grams of protein per ¾ cup serving, while greek yogurt contains 18 grams for the same serving!
Because of its tart flavor and thick texture, plain greek yogurt is a great replacement for sour cream in most recipes.
Try homemade tzatziki made with plain greek yogurt as a great party dip, or to dip veggies in for a protein rich afternoon snack.
Whip up a batch of greek yogurt pancakes to add some protein to a Sunday morning breakfast, use as part of a marinade for chicken or use to mediate the heat in your favorite curry recipe, or blend with fruit and freeze for a frozen popsicle treat..
2. Milk is milk- cold or steamed so lattes and mistos made with low fat milk (2% or less) or fortified milk alternative can definitely fit into your 2-3 dairy servings!
Research has shown that enjoying 20 grams of protein per mealtime (breakfast, lunch and dinner) can prevent the loss of lean muscle mass in adults but many Canadians aren’t achieving this amount, particularly at breakfast! Cow’s milk contains 8 grams of protein per cup, making it an excellent addition to breakfast or to boost the protein at any meal! For those who can’t tolerate cow’s milk, soy milk fortified with calcium is an excellent alternative, containing 7-8 grams of protein per cup. Other fortified milk alternatives (rice, coconut, hemp, almond) are often comparable to cow’s milk in terms of calcium content, but are generally lower in protein, containing only about 1-2 grams per cup.
If you generally purchase your morning coffee, why not make it a latte this time? Choose a simple coffee or tea latte made with low fat milk (2% or less), avoiding extra syrups and flavorings which can be high in sugar and extra calories. Choose to sweeten it yourself for better control of the sugar content, and choose spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg for added flavor.
You can also try making a coffee or chai tea latte at home! Add 1 cup of low fat milk to a small pot (or microwave for one minute) and heat slowly with a chai or Bengal spice tea bag, or 1 tsp of preferred instant coffee inside. When its heated froth for 5-7 seconds with an immersion blender for a true coffee shop latte effect.
3. for an extra sweet treat try an “undone cheese cake”. Top ½ cup low fat cottage cheese with the crumbs of ½ a graham cracker and thawed frozen strawberries (you can use fresh but the frozen kind release an amazingly sweet juice when they are slightly thawed).