12 Oct How I Get My Dairy Meal Prep On!
By Toby Amidor, MS, RD
The post was sponsored by National Dairy Council. All thoughts are my own.
I’m so thrilled that my latest cookbook The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook is a bestseller on Amazon! Throughout my cookbook, I discuss how to plan and prepare well-balanced, healthy meals a week at a time. As many folks don’t get the recommended 3 servings of dairy per day, it’s important to include dairy when planning meals and snacks for the week.
Throughout my years as an ambassador for National Dairy Council, I was lucky enough to visit many dairy farms and to speak to dairy farmers (I like to ask them a lot of questions!). In honor of National Farmers Day, a day of honor that is much deserved to all the hard-working farmers, I wanted to pay tribute to dairy farmers and show you how you can plan your dairy for the week through meal prepping.
One cup of milk provides 9 essential nutrients, including protein, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Three of these nutrients (vitamin D, potassium, and calcium) were called out as “nutrients of concern” by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as most Americans don’t get enough of them.
Dairy foods also have numerous health benefits. Folks who consume the recommended daily servings of dairy have been shown to have a higher nutrient intake and better diet quality. Milk and dairy consumption has also been associated with bone health and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
How Do They Milk the Cows?
When I was a girl my first dairy memory was swinging from a tree in the clementine orchard which had a clear view of the small milking barn of the cows. As a dietitian, I wanted to explore the various dairy farms throughout the U.S. and learn how cows are raised and milked. I have visited both large and small dairy farms. I have seen how farmers care lovingly for their land, cows, and the surrounding environment. Each farm I have visited has implemented sustainable practices, such as solar panels and using animal manure as an energy source for the farm. Below you can see the milking parlor of Fulper Family Farms in New Jersey, which is a relatively small dairy farm I visited this summer. I have also visited a Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana, where I watched a few hundred cows enjoying their milking time with their fellow lady friends. Dairy farms are located throughout the U.S., so you can find local milk wherever you are!
After the cows are milked, the milk that’s collected, pasteurized, bottled, and sent to distributors like your local supermarket.
Meal Prepping with Dairy
With time being such a constraint for many folks, meal prepping has become the saving grace. Preparing meals on Sunday for the busy work week enables you to enjoy healthy, quick meals on those crazy busy weeknights. It can also save you about 45 minutes during the weeknight where you can spend it with family or other tasks, instead of slaving over a hot stove. In order to make sure I get my recommended amount of dairy every day, I incorporate dairy into my meal prep. Here are 5 ways I do so:
- I stock up on my favorite grab-and-go dairy snacks like cheese sticks and single-serve Greek yogurt
- I add dairy to breakfast like milk in my oatmeal, cold cereal, smoothie, and pancake batters
- I add dairy to sauces and dips. In The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, I have a recipe for crudité with Herbed Yogurt Dip and Lamb Chops with Mint-Yogurt Sauce
- I add moderate amounts of cheese to favorites like salads, pizza, wraps, and burgers.
- I prepare DIY snacks with dairy that I can enjoy throughout the week such as Honey Ricotta with Strawberries (recipe below) and Mason Jar Key Lime Parfaits.
Honey Ricotta with Strawberries
Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup unsalted cashews, chopped
3 cups strawberries, halves
1. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, honey, and cashews.
2. Place ¼ cup of the ricotta mixture and ¾ cup strawberries in each of four resealable containers.
Nutrition info (per serving): Calories: 201; Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Protein: 9g; Total Carbs: 23g; Fiber: 2g; Sodium: 64 mg
Copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Pre, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017.
If you love your dairy like me and want to pay tribute to your region’s hardworking dairy farmers, tweet or Instagram photos of your favorite dairy foods and use the hashtags #NationalFarmersDay and #UndeniablyDairy.