Nutrition Corner: Low-Fat Dairy Meals
Dairy foods are a great source of energy, protein, and calcium. The USDA Food Guide recommends 2 to 3 servings of dairy per day (new guidelines may increase to 3 servings per day). To reduce additional fat and calories, choose reduced fat, low-fat, or even fat-free products. Low-fat options are available for cheese, butter, milk, cream, and yogurt. Read the labels for dairy products that are low in fat and less than 5 grams per serving, with an eventual goal of 3 grams of fat or less per serving. For example, skim milk is fat-free and saves on additional calories and grams of fat compared to 2% or even whole milk. Substitute skim milk for creamer in coffee, or in recipes calling for milk.
Low-fat dairy options include: low-fat cream cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, skim milk, reduced fat sour cream, one-third less fat cream, cheese made from skim milk, and low-fat and non-fat yogurt. For additional options, read the labels and look for products that have less than 3-5 grams of fat per serving. For example, a container of yogurt could be more than one serving, so don't forget to read the label.
Quick and healthy small meals with dairy can include: a baked potato with low-fat cottage cheese and salsa, beans, corn, or cooked vegetables; low-fat yogurt, fruit, and cereal; whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and a glass of skim milk; a slice of cheese, whole-wheat toast, and a piece of fruit; a handful of mixed nuts and a glass of skim milk; a slice of vegetable pizza; and a pita with hummus and vegetable sticks.
Quick tip: when cooking, prepare extra servings and freeze for meals later in the week.