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New USDA Dietary Guidelines - Children need More Fat-Free and Low-Fat Dairy

New USDA Dietary Guidelines - Children need More Fat-Free and Low-Fat Dairy

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6 Surprising and Delicious Ways to Enjoy Yogurt

Anastasia Schepers, MS, RD, CDN
Nutritionist, Community Outreach and Adolescent Medicine

In early January 2016, the government released the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The report, which is updated every five years, discussed nutrients that fall short in the American diet, as well as nutrients of public health concern. These include Vitamins A, D, E, and C, as well as fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Getting enough calcium is especially important for children and teens whose bones are growing rapidly. According to the report, healthy eating patterns include fat-free and low-fat (1%) dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages (commonly known as “soymilk”) – all are excellent sources of calcium.

The recommended amounts of dairy in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern are based on age rather than calorie level.

  • Children ages 2 to 3 years: 2 cup-equivalents per day
  • Children ages 4 to 8 years: 2½ cup-equivalents per day
  • Adolescents ages 9 to 18 years: 3 cup-equivalents per day

Yogurt is a versatile dairy food and can be used in desserts, snacks, dips, and sauces. Here are some ideas:

Incorporating yogurt into a healthy diet for kids is easier than you might think, and important, too. This nutrient-packed food offers a bounty of health benefits ranging from increased bone health to digestive well-being. MyPlate recommends, at least, 2½ to 3 cups of low-fat dairy products in your child's diet every day. Yogurt offers an abundance of ways to get your child to meet the recommended servings per day dairy. Here are six surprising ways to include it in your child's diet.

  1. Dip it. Have fun in the kitchen with your child by using yogurt as a dip for a variety of different fruits. For a healthier alternative to a typical cream cheese based fruit dip, mix 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla together. Serve with a variety of different fruits cut for dipping.
  2. Mix it. Start the morning off right by including yogurt at breakfast. Mix a 6-ounce container of low-fat yogurt with a ½ cup cut up berries, a handful of granola and 2 tablespoons of nuts for a quick satisfying breakfast bowl.
  3. Blend it. Blend up a calcium-packed snack using this yogurt smoothie recipe: 1 6-ounce container low-fat yogurt, ¾ cup low-fat milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Blend together and enjoy!
  4. Drink it. Drink your bones strong with homemade yogurt drinks. Make your own yogurt drinks with low-fat or fat-free yogurt and milk. Whisk together a 6-ounce container of low-fat strawberry-flavored yogurt and ¼ cup low-fat milk. Pour the mixture into containers and enjoy. If there's too much liquid, add more yogurt; if the mixture is too thick, add additional milk.
  5. Spoon it. Spoon in a delicious topping for your next taco night with plain yogurt. Use ½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and 1 teaspoon lime juice for a fun alternative to sour cream. And that's not all: plain yogurt is a versatile ingredient, and often can be substituted for sour cream in recipes.
  6. Dunk it. Dunk in the yogurt fun — and build kitchen skill confidence —with banana-yogurt-granola pops. Use half a banana with a popsicle stick placed in the bottom. Have your child dunk the banana in low-fat yogurt, and then roll in granola.

Adapted from:, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Kids Eat Right


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