National School Lunch Week: Celebrating Healthier School Meals

Posted by Katie Wilson @ 7:14 AM


This week is National School Lunch Week, a time to celebrate the school meal programs offering healthy, fresh and appealing meals to millions of students across the country.

The federal school meals program was established nearly 70 years ago, and as the science of nutrition has evolved so has the nutritional quality of these meals. The most recent changes created by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 brought a renewed effort to provide students with a variety of healthy choices, including new flavors, such as kale salad as well as proven staples, like nutrient-rich milk.

In 1940, the Federal government began providing assistance to schools so they could offer milk to students. Back then, students paid just 1 cent for a half pint, and the government picked up the rest of the tab: somewhere between eight-tenths of a cent to 1 and one-third cents! Today, students continue to be offered milk as part of school meals, and they even get to pick their favorite variety. Under the updated meal standards, schools now offer a minimum of two options among low-fat and fat-free white or fat-free flavored varieties.

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Milk Appears to Enhance Vitamin E Absorption for Those with Metabolic Syndrome

Posted by Mickey Rubin, PhD @ 9:29 AM


Like many people who have a background in nutrition, I can remember some of the very first things I learned in my early nutrition courses. For example, in a lesson on micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals), I learned there are two main types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K, and not much has changed since then; vitamins A, D, E and K are still fat soluble. This is a chemical property that will not change.

What has evolved over time is our knowledge of nutrition, like our understanding of dietary fat. Back in our early nutrition courses, while I learned about the need for some fat in the diet for overall health, I also remember learning about the virtues of a low-fat diet, and that the best thing we could do for our health was to limit fat consumption. This, however, appears to be changing as we learn more and more about fat and various fatty acids. We now understand that fat likely is not as taboo as it has been made out to be in more recent years, even the saturated fat found in dairy

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Taking the Lead in Farm to Table Conversations

Posted by Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, LDN, FAND @ 11:40 AM


In August I wrote about five ways nutrition and health professionals can help promote food security now. It was a reminder that we are beginning to recognize a sustainable food system is more than just a carbon footprint. It’s about positive contributions to alleviate hunger, community vitality, conservation of natural resources and more.

Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) can take the lead in the farm-to-table and table-to-farm conversation by teaching our clients and the public about portion control and minimizing food waste, and there’s an opportunity for you to learn more about this. This year at the Academy’s Food Nutrition Conference and Expo, Food and Culinary Professionals (FCP) sponsored a session, Waste Not, Want Not: Farm to Fork Solutions to Reduce Food Read the rest of this entry »

Probiotics: Are Dairy Foods the Preferred Vehicle?

Posted by Gregory Miller, PhD, FACN @ 7:00 AM


Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be good for health, especially the digestive system. Fermented dairy foods, like yogurt and kefir, continue to be the most popular foods and beverages people choose when they want the potential benefits of probiotics. But why is that? Is there something about probiotics in dairy foods that allow them to work more effectively than in other foods or as probiotic supplements?

The jury is still out and there’s still a great deal of research to be done in this area. That’s where animal research can play an important role. It can help us understand how specific probiotic strains may work in the body, how probiotics interact with food, and we can model their effect on human health that may otherwise be difficult to study.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you the results of new research that sheds light on why dairy foods may indeed be the best way to reap the benefits of probiotics. Read the rest of this entry »

Chefs, RDNs Collaborate in the Restaurant Test Kitchen

Posted by Rachel Huber, MPH, RDN @ 7:49 AM


While great tasting, affordable and convenient food used to satiate the restaurant-goer’s appetite, people today are demanding more. They want high-quality ingredients that fit their lifestyle and meet their dietary needs. What was once chefs in the kitchen laser-focused on flavor and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) concentrating on cutting calories is now a strong collaboration between chefs and RDNs to create delicious foods that people can feel good about eating.

As a RDN working in research development for a large restaurant company, I’m well aware that if the food we serve doesn’t taste fantastic it won’t stay on our menu. But I’ve also learned that if our food doesn’t meet people’s needs it won’t make it to our menu. I think this can be applied to all health and wellness professionals in that the food we recommend needs to not only be delicious, but nutrient-rich as well.


Insights show that people are focused on eating healthier, with 61 percent of adults trying to eat healthier foods and indicating that “fresh,” “grilled” and “low-sodium” are the top three most important menu descriptors of a healthy meal at restaurants (1). This need has helped increase opportunities between chefs and RDNs, integrating unique areas of expertise to select ingredients and develop recipes that not only taste great, but also are more nutritious. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate NDC’s 100th Anniversary and Join the “From Farm to Table” Discussion at FNCE Booth 927

Posted by Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, LDN, FAND @ 1:36 PM


National Dairy Council (NDC) is celebrating its centennial this year, and we’d like to thank all of you for collaborating with us over the years to accomplish common goals to support health and wellness. As we move into the next century, we will continue to evolve our work to support the health and well-being of Americans, particularly focused on food, nutrition and agriculture – or as we like to say – from farm to table and table to farm.

If you are attending the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE), you will see that agriculture can no longer be separated from food and nutrition conversations. As Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) we must be able to help address the questions that people are asking:

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Making Memories Over Chocolate Milk

Posted by Christine Cliff, MPH, RDN, LDN @ 8:13 AM


Reminiscing about spending time with my grandpa Jack, a retired dairy farmer, brings back many happy memories, especially of when we would mix up a glass of cold chocolate milk. He would always have chocolate syrup readily on hand (typically a few extras were in the basement pantry) to ensure he and my many cousins could enjoy this slightly sweet, yet nutritious treat. The teaspoon of added sweetness encouraged me to drink many glasses of milk growing up.

Not only did I enjoy chocolate milk with my grandpa, but it was also a great option to have at school. With valid concerns about childhood obesity, flavored milk has received some criticism related to its added sugars. This prompted dairy companies to evaluate their recipes (i.e., formulations) to reduce the amount of added sugar in chocolate milk available in schools by about 55 percent since 2006. Now an average 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk has about 7.5 grams of added sugar (above the 12 grams of the naturally occurring sugar in milk, lactose).

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Hunger Action Month: Food Insecurity Is Not a Game

Posted by Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, LDN, FAND @ 8:22 AM


Imagine it is Thanksgiving time. If you live in the Midwest like I do, a chill has crept into the crisp air. Your family is anxiously awaiting the scrumptious feast of turkey and all the fixings, but when you open your pantry and refrigerator, they are bare. Instead of hopping in your car to head to the store, you instead lace up your sneakers and start a five-mile walk or long bus ride to the local food pantry so your family has food for the holiday. This scenario is reality for Amanda. Last year, she and her family faced the challenge of deciding whether to buy food or pay for transportation and other necessities.

Amanda’s story is one of the millions that exist when it comes to struggling with food insecurity. She and her family are a part of the nearly 49 million Americans who live in food insecure households in the United States. You might be surprised to learn who is at risk of hunger in the land of the plenty. According to the recent Hunger in America study, more than half of the households who visit a Feeding America food pantry had at least one employed person at some point in the past year. Many of those served by the Feeding America network (20 percent) have even served our country in the military.

DMI_NDC_9.22_HAM_Facebook Read the rest of this entry »

#DGCRecipeHack: Inspire New Takes on Recipes!

Posted by Kim Kim Kirchherr, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, FAND @ 8:30 AM


As mentioned in a previous blog post, recipes bring nutrition to life, and my favorite part is that you can use them “as is” or you can make them your own with different spices, seasonal produce or whatever else inspires you that day.

With the launch of “The Dairy Good Cookbook,” we’re excited to get in the kitchen and share some hacks with you! National Dairy Council’s first ever #DGCRecipeHack is easy – check out “The Dairy Good Cookbook” (DGC), which is our new cookbook featuring 100+ dairy recipes created and inspired by some of America’s 45,000-plus dairy farm families for every day meals and celebrations.

How do you “hack?” It can be just about anything, from simply changing the amount of an ingredient you use, switching a spice or herb, using a lower fat or lower sodium ingredient, or trying frozen veggies instead of fresh. The trick is to be confident in your experiments, and know that behind the changes, making your own meals and snacks can, and should be, fun! Read the rest of this entry »

Special Visitor Helps Us Embrace NDC’s Past, Future

Posted by Kristin Schrieber, MS, RD, LDN @ 6:56 AM


For 100 years, on behalf of dairy farmers and the dairy community, National Dairy Council (NDC) has been committed to nutrition research and education with an emphasis on child health and wellness. NDC’s nutrition education program started in 1915, sparked by Dr. E.V. McCollum’s discovery of vitamin A in milk and the need for improved nutrition especially among children. Since then, NDC has helped launch pioneering programs that have benefited generations of children and adults, including the now retired K-10 nutrition education curriculum FOOD…Your Choice.

Dr. Gloria G. Kinney, Ph.D., who was director of Nutrition and Education for NDC from 1976-1986, played an instrumental role in the FOOD… Your Choice program.


“Dr. Kinney brought her knowledge and passion for education and nutrition. She had a vision of how you could impart nutrition education in schools by tying it into other subjects, like science and social studies, math, home economics and health,” said Tab Forgac, MS, RDN, LDN who worked with Dr. Kinney on the curriculum and still works for NDC today as vice president of Nutrition and Health Partnerships. “She helped NDC see how nutrition education could be implemented in schools – before that there wasn’t a curriculum or even a program available for teachers.”

I recently had the opportunity to meet Gloria and asked her some questions over lunch: Read the rest of this entry »