June is Dairy Month

June Dairy Month is an annual celebration that began in 1937 and serves as a time to reflect on dairy foods and the industry that makes it possible. First created as a way to help distribute extra milk when cows started on pasture in the summer months, June Dairy Month’s rich history continues today, with communities, companies and people from all over the country recognizing it in a variety of ways.

Together milk, cheese and yogurt deliver nine essential nutrients in a variety of tasty, affordable and convenient options. Three of the nutrients dairy foods provide — calcium, potassium and vitamin D — have been coined as “nutrients of concern” because the population falls short on their intake. It’s because of dairy’s contribution to the diet that the Guidelines recommend three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods every day for people ages nine and older.

Milk is a natural source of high-quality protein for healthy muscles and calcium for strong bones (8 grams protein and about 300 mg calcium per 8 ounces). Other dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, pudding, ice milk and ice cream also provide a source of these and other important nutrients as well.

Summer is a perfect time to incorporate dairy products into our menus. The combination of seasonal fresh fruits and cool and refreshing dairy products such as ice cream or yogurt, make the perfect treat to cool off on a hot summer day. Smoothies and ices are easy to make and they don’t heat up the kitchen.

So what are your favorite combinations? Last summer when I was visiting my daughter in Waco, Texas, we stopped by the Dr. Pepper Museum. They had an old-fashioned soda counter and were mixing up homemade shakes and sodas. I’d never had a soda like that before and I must admit that was pretty tasty. I think it tasted even better because the temperature in Waco in August when we were there was well over 100 degrees every day we were there!

Fortunately our summers are not quite that sweltering here in Minnesota most of the time, but cool dairy drinks are in season here in Minnesota now too. You can use the fruits and dairy products of your choice and preference. Following are a couple of smoothie recipes to pique your interest and get you started from the Midwest Dairy Association’s website.

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

1 1/4 cups fat-free chocolate milk

1 cup frozen mixed berries without sugar (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)

1 container (5.3 oz) fat-free mixed berry Greek yogurt

Combine chocolate milk, frozen berries and yogurt in a blender. Blend until creamy. Serve immediately.

Makes two servings. 1 serving= 206 calories.

Orange Cream Chiller

3 ounces orange juice concentrate

1 cup low-fat milk

1/2 cup nonfat Greek-style plain yogurt

1 banana frozen, or 3 frozen strawberries

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.

Makes two servings. 1 serving= 169 calories.

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.