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Prairie Fare: Keep Milk Breaks This Summer

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
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Be sure you and your family members don’t earn “D’s” in dairy, especially during June, which is National Dairy Month.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“I’ll have chocolate milk,” my 9-year-old daughter said the other night at a restaurant as we celebrated her sister’s birthday and the end of the school year.

My daughter nearly always opts for chocolate milk, even when fancy kids’ fruit punch drinks with colorful little umbrellas are on the menu.

Like white milk, chocolate milk has nine essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium and vitamin D. These nutrients often are lacking in the diets of children and adults.

Studies have shown that flavored milks are a way to get growing kids to drink more milk. When schools have removed chocolate milk as a choice, overall milk consumption decreases.

In our case, chocolate milk has become the restaurant “treat” because we always have gallons of white milk in our fridge at home.

School’s out and regular milk breaks are over. With different schedules and less structured days, kids’ eating habits can become a little delinquent from the gold-star standard. Be sure you and your family members don’t earn “D’s” in dairy, especially during June, which is National Dairy Month.

Dairy breaks are a good idea for adults to boost calcium intake, too. If you like coffee, consider whitening it with milk. You also could try a yogurt break or a cheese-and-cracker break.

Athletes may want to take advantage of chocolate milk as a means of quenching thirst and refueling muscles. Chocolate milk has the near-perfect combination of protein and carbohydrate to refuel muscle glycogen, the storage form of glucose, after a workout.

Dairy foods also may help with weight management, according to researchers.

In a six-month study, two groups of people consumed the same amount of calories, but one group ate three or four servings of dairy products as part of their diet. The high-dairy group lost 24 pounds, significantly more than the low-dairy group, and they lost more weight in the abdominal area.

In other words, eat dairy foods, trim calories and get more exercise if your goal is to lose a “spare tire.”

As the weather warms, kids of all ages may opt for soda pop and other sweetened beverages instead of milk as their preferred form of refreshment. This cuts calcium intake and fills them up with empty calories, which can lead to weight gain.

Drinking more milk, however, can crowd out sweetened beverages. University of Iowa researchers surveyed the parents of 645 children. They found that kids as young as 2 who drank more milk were less likely to drink many sweetened beverages.

Here are some tips to help keep you and your family ahead of the curve when it comes to nutrition practices:

  • Drink milk with meals. Aim for at least three daily servings of milk and other dairy foods. Have water with snacks and save sweetened beverages for occasional treats.
  • Eat meals as a family as often as possible. Kids who eat with their families have a healthier overall diet, and they consume more calcium-rich milk and fewer sweetened soft drinks.
  • Try some new dairy-based recipes this summer or add some dairy to your favorites. Aim for three servings of dairy a day. Sprinkle cheese on eggs, top baked potatoes with nonfat yogurt and chives, and experiment with refreshing smoothie recipes. Try Greek yogurt as a protein-rich snack.

For more information about nutrition and fitness, check out or see the Prairie Fare blog at

Here’s a recipe with a clever title courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Council at

Chocolate Bananarama Milk Mixer

4 c. fat-free milk

1 (4-ounce) package chocolate instant pudding

1 medium banana, cut into chunks

6 ice cubes

Place ingredients in a blender. Cover and blend for one minute or until smooth. Pour into four glasses. Serve immediately.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 200 calories, 0.5 gram (g) of fat, 9 g of protein, 41 g of carbohydrate, 460 milligrams (mg) of sodium and 300 mg of calcium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – May 30, 2013

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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