Friday, March 20, 2009

Five Food Groups Series - Number 4

Milk, Yoghurt & Cheese

From an irresistible slice of smoked cheddar with relish, to a fresh strawberry smoothie, or a dollop of yoghurt on sliced ripe mango, there's nothing quite like the creamy, indulgent taste of milk, cheese or yoghurt.

Dairy products can also be enjoyed in a multitude of sweet and savoury ways. Milk can be poured on cereal, added to mashed potato, used to poach fish, or blended in a fruit smoothie. Yoghurt is great as an accompaniment to many savoury dishes - such as couscous or curry - as well as with fruit for a delicious snack or dessert. Cheeses are also fantastic on their own, on top of pasta, in salad, on bread or even as a simple cheese platter.

Better still, when it comes to dairy products there are plenty of different flavours and reduced fat options available - so you can always find one that suits you, and can still enjoy your favourite milk, yoghurt or cheese every day.

Why is this group good for me?

  • Milk, cheese and yoghurt are high in calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium helps young bones grow strong.
  • Dairy products are also an excellent source of protein - which helps our body's cells grow strong and healthy and riboflavin and vitamin B12, two of the B group vitamins.

Fresh food tips

How many serves a day do I need?

You should have at least 2 serves of dairy produce every day. Fat-reduced products are recommended for those over 2 years of age. One serve is equivalent to:

  • 40g of cheese
  • 200g tub of yoghurt
  • 250ml of milk or fortified soy milk.
  • 250ml of custard

Fresh food tips

Enjoy a fresh fruit smoothie with your breakfast. Combine a banana, 1 cup of skim milk, 1/3 cup of natural yoghurt, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1-2 tablespoons of wheat-germ in a blender, whiz and drink!
Rich in iron and protein, these foods provide us with the strength and stamina our bodies need for everyday activity.

Try to choose lean cuts of meat or chicken wherever possible, and match this with a healthy preparation method such as stir-frying, grilling or poaching - which don't need extra oil.

Eggs, nuts and legumes - such as chickpeas and lentils - also make fantastic, easy alternatives to meat.

Barbecue slices of haloumi on a hot grill and serve sliced with kalamata olives and quartered Roma tomatoes in a Greek salad.

Spice up a cheese platter with fresh dates, halved and topped with slices of blue-vein or cottage cheese.

If you don't like to drink milk on its own, try adding it to cooking. Make a cheesy sauce to serve over vegetables by melting 2 tablespoons of reduced fat butter with flour in a saucepan, and adding 1 cup of skim milk and 1 cup of low fat grated cheddar

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