10 Tips to Get Enough Dairy Throughout the Day

The Dairy Group includes milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soymilk. They provide calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein and other nutrients needed for good health throughout life. Choices should be low-fat or fat-free—to cut calories and saturated fat.

How much dairy is needed in a day?

Older children, teens, and adults -3 cups

Children 4 to 8 years old- 2½ cups

Children 2 to 3 years old- 2 cups

  1. “Skim” the Fat- Drink fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. If you currently drink whole milk, gradually switch to lower fat versions. This change cuts calories but doesn’t reduce calcium or other essential nutrients.
  2. Boost Potassium and Vitamin D and Cut Sodium- Choose fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt more often than cheese. Milk and yogurt have more potassium and less sodium than most cheeses. Also, almost all milk and many yogurts are fortified with vitamin D.
  3. Top Off Your Meals- Use fat-free or low-fat milk on cereal and oatmeal. Top fruit salads and baked potatoes with low-fat yogurt instead of higher fat toppings such as sour cream.
  4. Choose Cheeses with Less Fat- Many cheeses are high in saturated fat. Look for “reduced-fat” or “low-fat” on the label. Try different brands or types to find the one that you like.
  5. What About Cream Cheese? Regular cream cheese, cream and butter are not part of the dairy food group. They are high in saturated fat and have little or no calcium.
  6. Ingredient Switches- When recipes such as dips call for sour cream, substitute plain yogurt. Use fat-free evaporated milk instead of cream, and try ricotta cheese as a substitute for cream cheese.
  7. Choose Sweet Dairy Foods with Care- Flavored milks, fruit yogurts, frozen yogurt and puddings can contain a lot of added sugars. These added sugars are empty calories. You need the nutrients in dairy foods—not these empty calories.
  8. Caffeinating? – If so, get your calcium along with your morning caffeine boost. Make or order coffee, a latte or cappuccino with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  9. Can’t Drink Milk? – If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk, drink smaller amounts of milk at a time, or try soymilk (soy beverage). Check the Nutrition Facts label to be sure your soymilk has about 300 mg of calcium. Calcium in some leafy greens is well absorbed, but eating several cups each day to meet calcium needs may be unrealistic.
  10. Take Care of Yourself and Your Family– Parents who drink milk and eat dairy foods show their kids that it is important. Dairy foods are especially important to build the growing bones of kids and teens. Routinely include low-fat or fat-free dairy foods with meals and snacks—for everyone’s benefit.

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The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit myplate.gov.

10 Tips to Eat More Fruit

Eating fruit provides health benefits. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health, such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories and none have cholesterol. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as a part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen or dried, and may be whole, cut-up or pureed.

Here are 10 tips to eat more fruit throughout your day:

  1. Keep Visible Reminders– Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter or in the refrigerator.
  2. Think About Taste– Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor. Add fruits to sweeten a recipe.
  3. Think About Variety– Buy fruits that are dried, frozen and canned (in water or 100% juice) as well as fresh, so that you always have a supply on hand.
  4. Don’t Forget the Fiber- Make most of your choices whole or cut-fruit rather than juice, for the benefits that dietary fiber provides.
  5. Be a Good Role Model- Set a good example for children by eating fruit every day with meals or as snacks.
  6. Include Fruit at Breakfast- At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas, peaches or strawberries; add blueberries to pancakes; drink 100% orange or grapefruit juice. Or try a fruit mixed with fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
  7. Try Fruit at Lunch- At lunch, pack a tangerine, banana or grapes to eat, or choose fruits from a salad bar. Individual containers of fruits like peaches or applesauce are easy and convenient.
  8. Experiment with Fruit at Dinner– At dinner, add crushed pineapple to coleslaw, or include orange sections, dried cranberries or grapes in a tossed salad.
  9. Snack on Fruits– Dried fruits make great snacks. They are easy to carry and store well.
  10. Keep Fruits Safe– Rinse fruit before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. After rinsing, dry with a clean towel.

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The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit myplate.gov.

10 Ways to Eat Whole Grains

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ and endosperm. People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy eating style have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Here are 10 healthy tips to eat whole grains.

  1. Make Simple Shifts- To make half your grains whole grains, choose 100% whole-wheat bread, bagels, pasta or tortillas; brown rice; oatmeal; or grits.
  2. Whole Grains Can Be Healthy Snacks- Popcorn is a whole grain. Make it with little or no added salt or butter. Also, try 100% whole-wheat or rye crackers.
  3. Save Some Time- Cook extra brown rice or oatmeal when you have time. Refrigerate half of what you cook to heat and serve later in the week.
  4. Mix It Up with Whole Grains- Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soups or stews and bulgur wheat in casseroles or stir-fries. Try a quinoa salad or pilaf.
  5. Try Whole-Wheat Versions- Change up your favorite meal with whole grains. Try brown rice stuffing in baked green peppers or tomatoes and whole-wheat noodles in lasagna.
  6. Bake Up Some Whole Grain Goodness– Experiment by substituting buckwheat, millet or oat flour for up to half of the flour in your favorite pancake or waffle recipes. To limit saturated fat and added sugars, top with fruit instead of butter and syrup.
  7. Be a Good Role Model for Children- Set a good example for children by serving and eating whole grains every day with meals or as snacks.
  8. Check the Label– Most refined grains are enriched. This means that certain B vitamins and iron are added back after processing. Check the ingredients list to make sure the word “enriched” is included in the grain name.
  9. Know What to Look for on the Ingredients List– Read the ingredients list and choose products that name a whole-grain ingredient first on the list. Look for “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “whole-grain cornmeal,” “whole oats,” or “whole rye.”
  10. Be a Smart Shopper- The color of a food is not an indication that it is a whole-grain food. Foods labeled as “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” “seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not 100% whole-grain products, and may not contain any whole grain.

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The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit myplate.org.

9 Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables Everyday

It can be easier than you may think to eat more vegetables throughout your day. Eating vegetables is important because they provide vitamins and minerals and most are low in calories. To fit more vegetables in your meals, we’re encouraging them as snacks as well, not just meals. Here are 9 easy ways you can eat more vegetables every day:

  1. Discover Fast Ways to Cook- Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave for a quick-and-easy dish to add to any meal. Steam green beans, carrots, or broccoli in a bowl with a small amount of water in the microwave for a quick side dish.
  1. Be Ahead of the Game- Cut up a batch of bell peppers, carrots, or broccoli. Pre-package them to use when time is limited. You can enjoy them on a salad, with a hummus dip, or in a veggie wrap.
  1. Choose Vegetables Rich in Color- Brighten your plate with vegetables that are red, orange, or dark green. They are full of vitamins and minerals. Try acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, or collard greens. They not only taste great but also are good for you, too.
  1. Check the Freezer Aisle- Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to use and are just as nutritious as fresh veggies. Try adding frozen vegetables, such as corn, peas, green beans, or spinach to your favorite dish. Look for frozen vegetables without added sauces, gravies, butter, or cream.
  1. Stock Up on Veggies- Canned vegetables are a great addition to any meal, so keep on hand canned tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, and beets. Select those labeled as “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”
  1. Make Your Garden Salad Glow with Color- Brighten your salad by using colorful vegetables such as black beans, sliced red bell peppers, shredded radishes, chopped red cabbage or carrots. Your salad will not only look good but taste good, too.
  1. Sip on Some Vegetable Soup- Heat it and eat it. Try tomato, butternut squash, or garden vegetable soup. Look for reduced- or low-sodium soups. Make your own soups with a low-sodium broth and your favorite vegetables.
  1. While You’re Out- If dinner is away from home, no need to worry. When ordering, ask for an extra side of vegetables or side salad instead of the typical fried side dish. Ask for toppings and dressings on the side.
  1. Savor the Flavor of Seasonal Vegetables- Buy vegetables that are in season for maximum flavor at a lower cost. Check your local supermarket specials for the best-in-season buys. Or visit your local farmer’s market.

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The tips featured in this blog post were developed by the USDA. For more information, visit myplate.org.

7 tips on how to vary your protein routine


When you think of protein do you think of meat on the grill or crispy chicken? While protein is found in animal sources such as meat, poultry and fish it is also in plant sources such as nuts and seeds, peanut butter, eggs, beans and soy products.

We all need protein. Protein is a macronutrient and one of the building blocks of the human body. It plays a role in bone and muscle growth as well as aids in hormone and molecular reactions in the body. Our bodies need 5 to 7 ounces of protein a day (1 or 2 servings of palm-sized protein at each meal).

Here are 7 tips on how to vary your protein routine:

  1. Variety, variety, variety Set a goal to have a variety of protein in your diet each week whether it is from animal protein (meat, chicken and fish) or plant protein (eggs, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, beans and soy). Try eating fish a couple of times each week or substitute meat for plant protein such as black beans or lentils. Having a variety guarantees we are benefiting from all protein has to offer!
  2. Select lean meat and poultry Choose lean cuts of meat like round or sirloin and ground beef that is at least 93% lean. Trim or drain fat from meat and remove poultry skin. To save money, select ground turkey or chicken in place of ground beef.
  3. Keep it tasty and healthy – Try grilling, broiling, roasting, or baking—they don’t add extra fat. Some lean meats need slow, moist cooking to be tender—try a slow cooker for them. Avoid breading meat or poultry, which adds calories.
  4. Think small when it comes to protein portions – Protein is an important nutrient, but we often consume it in large portion sizes. Protein should take up ¼ of your plate, think a deck of cards or the size of your palm when fixing your plate.
  5. Eat plant protein foods more oftenTry beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black, or white beans; split peas; chickpeas; hummus) and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). They are lower in saturated fat and some are higher in fiber.
  6. Try nuts and seeds Nuts and seeds may be small but they pack a healthy punch in our diet! They contain protein, healthy fat, iron and fiber. Nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories, so eat small portions to keep calories in check. One serving is a handful or about ¼ cup. Nuts and seeds make a great snack or add-in for a crunch in a salad.
  7. Save with eggs Eggs can be an inexpensive protein option and part of a healthy eating style. Make eggs part of your weekly choices.

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