Milk It with the Milk Group

Milk It

Milk is often referred to as a complete food and is one of our most widely used ingredients.

The Milk Group

The Milk Group includes yogurt and cheese plus milk based desserts such as ice cream, frozen yogurt and pudding made with milk.

Milk, cheese and yogurt provide essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein.

Milk Dairy Food Group
Milk It


These nutrients help build and maintain bone mass and may reduce risk for the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis. Potassium also helps regulate the body’s fluid balance and maintain healthy blood pressure.

Calcium-Rich Milk

Coconut Milk and CoconutThe main milks that we consume are cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk. Nowadays we have the option of using “milks” that are non-dairy such as soya, rice and oat milks. Skim milk contains only half the calories of full fat milk but is nutritionally much the same. Coconut milk is made using regular milk. To make your own coconut milk, take 1 cup non fat milk, 1 cup water and 1 cup grated, unsweetened coconut and combine in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 3 minutes at medium heat. Let cool, then strain through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the coconut.

Note: Choosing fat free or low fat milk can lower your calories and still provide nutrients.

Make it Quick

These tips can help you get your Milk Group foods – fast.

  • Order a latte made with fat-free or low fat milk.
  • Make oatmeal or tomato soup with milk instead of water.
  • Stock up on cheese sticks, reduced or non-fat yogurt cups and yogurt drinks for calcium-rich snacks.
  • Top fruit with your favorite yogurt for a homemade parfait dessert.

Smart Calorie Choices

Milk Products
Milk Products


Consider these tips to get the most nutrition for the fewest calories from the Milk Group.

  • Always choose fat-free or low fat milk products.
  • Use the Nutrition Labels to compare the amount of calories and fat in different types of Milk Group foods.
  • If your family usually drinks whole milk, adjust by stepping down to reduced-fat (2%), then low fat (1%) and finally fat-free milk.
  • Use evaporated fat-free milk in coffee and to replace cream in recipes.
  • For a sweet treat, try lighter ice cream or frozen yogurt.

For many different ways to incorporate more milk into your diet easily and conveniently, see Easy Ways to Drink Your Milk.

Did You Know?

Studies showed that those who drank a glass of fat free milk before lunch experienced decreased appetite and calorie intake compared to those who drank fruit juice.

Bites From History

  1. In 1919, milk was 15 cents a quart.
  2. After prohibition in 1933, milk was 10 cents a quart.


Butter is Better.

Butter is Better.

Butter IS better. Butter gets its creamy yellow color from the substance beta-carotene, naturally occurring in milk.  According to The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings, in winter, when cows are fed on grain rather than grass, butter is sometimes less yellow than the butter made in spring and summer. For this reason, annatto may be added in small quantities by some manufacturers to enhance the color.

Margarine, on the other hand,  was originally a white substance with no food appeal. Manufacturers added yellow coloring before selling it to people to use in place of butter.


Butter is Better.
Butter is Better.


Have you ever really looked into the differences between margarine and butter? Do so and see why butter is better.

  • Both have the same amount of calories.
  • Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams;compared to 5 grams for margarine.
  • Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53 percent over eating the same amount of butter. Source: A Harvard Medical Study.
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
  • Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!
  • Butter tastes much better than margarine and it enhances the flavors of other foods.
  • Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.
Sticks of margarine
Sticks of margarine

Margarine is:

  • Very high in trans fatty acids.
  • Triples risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
  • Increases the risk of cancers up to five times.
  • Lowers quality of breast milk
  • Decreases immune response.
  • Decreases insulin response.

And here’s the most disturbing fact…

Margarine is but one molecule away from being plastic… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.

You see why butter is better?

These facts alone are enough to avoid margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

Experiment and see for yourself: Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things.

1)  No flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something).

2)  It does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value. Nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is akin to plastic.

Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Butter is better. So please, pass the butter.

Butter is better. Pass the butter, please!
Butter is better. Pass the butter, please!

You may also enjoy…

Irish Coffee Perk

Irish Coffee Perk

National Irish Coffee Day January 25


Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

Tasty it is – but healthful?
Most wouldn’t think so with its inclusion of cream and sugar added to some potent whiskey. But we’re going to step out of the norm and mention some benefits to an occasional glass of this tasty libation.

Delegates at the EuroMedLab 2005 conference in Glasgow said that whiskey contains significantly higher levels of a powerful antioxidant that kills cancer cells. This is due to something called ellagic acid. One researcher, Dr. Swan, said that ellagic acid is a highly effective ‘free radical scavenger’ that absorbs rogue cells that occur in the body during eating.

So it seems a little whiskey here and there can do you some good. Simply don’t go over-board and you’ll be fine.

What about the sugar and cream in Irish Whiskey?

The amounts truly are minimal (if you stick to just one), all things considered.

Irish Coffee originated in the era around World War II during the dawn of transatlantic plane travel. This occurred during the years from 1939 to 1945.  Air travelers from America took an 18-hour seaplane (known as a “flying boat”) to Port of Foynes in County Limerick, Ireland. In 1952, the owner of the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco began serving the first Irish Coffees in the U.S.

Tip: For the best results possible, if you can obtain untreated cream from a farmer you will produce a better Irish Coffee.

Classic Irish Coffee Recipe

This recipe is quick and sophisticated. Enjoy it with company or when you are in the mood to make something special for yourself.

6 ounces hot, fresh brewed coffee
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1-1/3 ounce Irish whiskey
Heavy cream

  1. Whip the heavy cream until it is light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar to sweeten if desired. Chill.
  2. Brew your coffee. Combine the brewed coffee with the whiskey and sugar. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Get the whipped cream out of the fridge and place it on top of the Irish coffee mixture.
  4. Sit back, sip and enjoy.

If you want to enjoy this beverage in a lower-calorie version, consider this non-alcoholic Low Calorie Irish Coffee Recipe that uses orange and lemon juice in place of the whiskey.

We also offer a delicious Irish Whiskey Cake recipe in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Also in honor of St. Patrick’s, we have some delicious Irish Coffee Recipes.

Measuring Calories – or calories?

Measuring calories
Measuring calories

Measuring Calories – or calories?

The standard measure of heat energy is the calorie. A calorie is the amount of energy needed to heat one gram of water one degree Celsius.

But, scientifically there is a difference between a calorie and a Calorie. A Calorie (used in measuring foods for example) is a kilo-calorie or 1000 calories. If a food label said there were 120 Calories, that is really 120,000 calories! However, what you see in recipe calorie counts and on nutrition labels is the “calorie” count.  No worries, you needn’t multiply those numbers.

A Unique Perspective

Many of us, having received a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror, decide it’s time to go on a diet and cut down on calories.

Although certainly not scientific, a calorie-conscious woman recently told me calories are a good way of measuring how fine a particular food tastes! Intrigued, this theory was explained to me as follows.

  1. By her calculations, fudge has a great many calories because it tastes so good.
  2. Brussels sprouts, her least favorite edible, were said to have no calories at all.
  3. And celery? For her celery wasn’t a food. She said celery ought to be considered a member of the plywood family.

Silly? Of course! But she has a fun attitude.

Back to Reality

Calorie counting and measuring is a pain. There are tools such as scales and software to help you, but when all is said and done, it’s best not to become obsessed with measuring calories. You most likely already know that junk foods are filled with empty calories. Avoid them. It’s better than measuring calories in each bag or package. Practice common sense when you do indulge.

There are so many variables – your weight, your height, your activity level. Best to just learn the calorie content of the foods you eat most and always be sensible.

You may also like…

Coconut Oil: Under Rated

Coconut Oil: Under Rated

Coconut oil gets a bad rap from the health industry and it really shouldn’t. It’s a natural, tropical food that can do wonders.

Coconut Oil, Milk and Juice: What’s the Difference?

Coconut Oil: Under Rated
Coconut Oil: Under Rated

Most people think that coconut milk is the liquid inside the coconut, but this is not the case. The liquid inside the coconut is known as coconut water or juice. This is not where the milk comes from as many people assume. Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is the fatty oil that comes from the coconut meat.

The Fat in Coconut Oil

All fats, whether they be saturated or unsaturated, contain the same number of calories. The medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in coconut oil are different. They contain a little less. Because of the small size of the fatty acids that make up coconut oil, they actually yield fewer calories than other fats.

MCT oil is derived from coconut oil. It has an effective energy value of only 6.8 calories per gram. This is much less than the 9 calories per gram supplied by other fats. Coconut oil has at least 2.56 percent fewer calories per gram of fat than long-chain fatty acids. (LCFA) This means that by using coconut oil in place of other oils your calorie intake is less.

MCFA are not packaged into lipoproteins and do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats. They are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. Just like a carbohydrate.

So when you eat coconut oil, the body uses it immediately to make energy rather than store it as body fat. As a result, you can eat more coconut oil than you can other oils. It takes longer before the excess is converted into fat. It is documented in numerous studies using both animals and humans that replacing LCFA with MCFA results in a decrease in body weight gain and a reduction in fat.

Learn what to look for in a quality coconut oil and discover coconut oil’s incredible health benefits.

  • Lose weight, lower cholesterol.
  • Reduce risk of heart disease.
  • Helps with diabetes, thyroid, chronic fatigue.
  • Improve Crohn’s, IBS, and other digestive disorders.
  • Boost daily energy.
  • Rejuvenate skin, prevent wrinkles.

There is a small percentage of unsaturated oils in coconut oil by nature. These usually will become rancid. In coconut oil they do not. It is believed that the other saturated oils have an antioxidant effect, which prevent this occurrence.

One food that can rev up your metabolism even more than protein is coconut oil.

Up until now most people have been afraid of using coconut oil because of the propaganda war waged by the soybean industry. People were led to believe that coconut oil was both unhealthy and fattening, neither of which are true.

The fats in coconut oil, for the most part, do not become fatty issues on our bodies. They produce energy. This is one of the reasons why food manufacturers put coconut oil in sports drinks. Soybean oil, on the other hand, does just the opposite. It promotes weight gain, yet we use more soybean than ever before.

Over the past couple of decades, soybean oil has replaced tropical oils in our foods. Since, the problem of obesity has mushroomed. Has the soybean industry’s war on coconut oil has contributed to our expanding weight problem? That’s difficult to say, but knowing the truth about coconut oil can be helpful. We will not getting it from the main stream media.

If interested in purchasing coconut oil, be sure to find a quality one – read the label carefully. We recommend Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. It is rich in medium chain good fats that doctors recommend, has the heavenly, creamy taste of the tropics and is processed naturally maintaining its taste, texture, color and aroma. No refrigeration required; solid at room temperature and melts at 76 degrees.

Other Heart Friendly Oils

Substitution is the key. Replace lard or other saturated fats with vegetable oils that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This can pay dividends for your heart.

Canola oil is the very lowest in saturated fat. Other choices such as safflower and soybean oil are close behind. The differences are small enough that you should pick whichever polyunsaturated oil you prefer.

Olive oil has the highest proportion of monounsaturated fat and has earned heart-healthy labeling from the FDA. Olive oil does add a touch of taste to your foods, so you may wish to pick and choose what you use it in.

Let taste drive your choice, When you want flavor-free oil, go with polyunsaturated (canola, safflower, soybean).  When you want flavor, pick  coconut, olive or peanut oils.

Whichever you choose, remember that all fat contains 120 calories a tablespoon, so go easy.

Functional Fat Loss

Functional Fat Loss

If you’ve been a long-time waist-watcher, perhaps you remember the popular nutrient ratio of 60-30-10? It means a diet of 60 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrates and 10 percent fat. This ratio was all the rage for quite some time. It was touted and practiced by many, from every day dieters to hard-core body builders.

Functional Fat Loss Fact: There is no single nutrient ratio that is perfect for everyone.

Since, body builders nutrition experts found that perhaps that was a bit too heavy on protein and too light on carbohydrates. Carbohydrates perform many vital functions. What has now been discovered is that a ratio of 50-30-20 seems much more suitable to just about everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an average dieter or a  body-builder. So for daily dietary intake, now we’re talking the following.

  • Functional Fat Loss Food Plate
    Functional Fat Loss Food Plate

    50 percent protein.

  • 30 percent carbohydrate.
  • 20 percent fat.

Functional Fat Loss Calorie Conversions

  1. 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  2. 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  3. 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

If functional fat loss is your goal and you want to achieve it the healthy way. Meaning, without losing muscle or energy.  You can’t go wrong starting a diet at a daily intake of 50-55 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 15-20 percent fat.

Since all this number crunching can be annoying, you don’t have to be rigid with this. In other words, you can be a bit flexible to suit your own tastes and needs. Altering each percentage around 5 percent or so won’t hurt. The key is to use this as a starting guideline and adjust according to your needs and your body’s response. That means you are practicing functional fat loss.

For example, if you know you have a fast metabolism, you could aim for around 55 to 60 percent carbohydrates. For those with a slower metabolism, 45 percent carbohydrates may be a better place to start. At this point, much depends on your body type.

The 3-2-1 Method

An easy way to estimate your nutrient ratios is to follow the 3-2-1 rule. Here’s how it works.

Imagine your plate divided into six sections like slices of a pie. Fill up three slices (50 percent) with natural carbohydrates. This would include foods like potatoes, yams, oatmeal, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fill up two sections (33 percent) with lean proteins like egg whites, chicken or fish. Finish with one section of fat (17 percent). This simple method puts you very close to the optimal ratios for a baseline diet. You don’t need to be a math whiz to figure it out.

The point is to establish a starting point, then experiment and adjust as needed. And if the 50-30-20 ratio produces good results for you, don’t change a thing. Most diet programs begin with some kind of quick start crash diet program. They are extremely restrictive because the creators want you to see quick weight loss right at the start. This is not realistic, healthful, nor sensible. You’ll never stick to it and could damage your health.

In Summary

The 50-30-20 ratio is balanced and healthy for long-term use. A balanced diet in these ratios using a wide variety of foods is important to make sure you get the right balance of all the essential nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. A truly balanced diet is one that you can comfortably maintain as your new lifestyle.

You may also like…

Macronutrient Ratios: No Best Ratio

Macronutrient Ratios
Macronutrient Ratios

Macronutrient Ratios: No Best Ratio

What are they? Macronutrient ratios refer to the percentage of your total daily calories that come from protein, carbohydrates and fat. For example, 60-30-10 or 40-30-30 are nutrient ratios.

For decades, bodybuilders  developed nutrition plans based on ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In 1995 nutrient ratios gained widespread attention from the public with the release of a book by Dr. Barry Sears called “The Zone.” This book made “meal ratios” household words. The entire Zone program is based on the nutrient ratio of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat (or 40-30-30).

By following the 40-30-30 ratios, Dr. Sears claimed you would lose weight, gain muscle, improve athletic performance and cure a whole host of diseases and health problems.
The Zone Diet
The Zone is basically just another very low calorie diet. The down fall of the Zone program as Dr. Sears prescribed it in his 1995 book, is dangerously low calories. Zone dieters often fell into to the same pitfall that many other low calorie dieters succumb to – starvation mode.

As a whole, the Zone program was denounced by mainstream health and nutrition organizations around the world. These included the American Dietetic Association, the Mayo Clinic, the American College of Sports Medicine, and many others. However, you can learn some important things from the Zone by plucking out useful tidbits and throwing away the rest. There were actually two particularly important contributions to modern trends in nutrition that changed the thinking about fat and weight loss since 1995.

Two Good Things We Learned From The Zone

  1. The Zone brought to the public’s attention the importance of having a good balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats instead of being heavily slanted towards mostly carbohydrate at the expense of protein and fat. It also pointed out the dangers of eating large amounts of processed carbohydrates such as white breads, white pastas, fat free snack foods and baked goods.
  2. The second important point made by the Zone program was the idea of always combining a lean protein and complex carbohydrate food at every meal. This is probably one of the most important aspects of a nutrition program designed for improving body composition, because it helps to control the hormones responsible for fat storage and it provides a steady flow of amino acids from protein foods for muscle growth and maintenance.

Macronutrient Ratios: The Bottom Line

Contrary to what some diet gurus would like you to believe, there is no single best ratio. Calories are always the most important factor in fat loss and the first factor you should consider. Only then can you accurately calculate the optimal ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat specifically for your unique needs.

You may also like…

Ten Tips to Easily Eat More Vegetables

Ten Tips to Easily Eat More Vegetables

Vegetables provide vital nutrients in your diet – and they are pretty low in calories in their natural state. To fit more vegetables into your daily diet, try these simple ten tips. It’s easier than you may think!

Eat More Vegetables
Eat More Vegetables


  1. Cook ’em Fast. Cook your 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. This makes a quick side dish and is a great way to eat more vegetables.
  2. Prepackage Your Vegetables. Cut up your bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, etc., and prepackage them to use when time is limited. You can enjoy them on salads, with hummus or in a vegetable wrap.
  3. Pick Vegetables In Rich Colors. The healthiest vegetables are colored red, orange or dark green. These are packed with vitamins and minerals. Examples are acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes or collard greens. Try to eat more vegetables in theses colors.
  4. Buy Frozen Vegetables. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and are quick and easy to use. Try adding frozen corn, peas, green beans, spinach or sugar snap peas to some of your favorite dishes. You could also serve these as a side dish.
  5. Canned Vegetables. Stock up on canned vegetables! They are a great addition to any meal. Canned tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, beets. Select the ones labeled low sodium or reduced sodium. Better yet, go for no salt added. Another great way to eat more vegetables with little to no fuss.
  6. Brighten Garden Salads. Brighten up your garden salads by using colorful vegetables such as black beans, sliced red bell peppers, shredded radishes, chopped red cabbage, or watercress.
  7. Sip on Soup. Heat and eat. Try tomato, butternut squash, or garden vegetable soup. Look for reduced or low sodium varieties.
  8. Eating Out. If you’re eating out, ask for an extra side dish of vegetables or side salad instead of the typical fried side dish.
  9. Savor Seasonal Vegetables. Buy vegetables that are in season for maximum flavor at a lower cost. Check your supermarket specials for the best in-season buys. Or visit your local farmer’s market.
  10. Try Something New. You never know what you may like! Try a new vegetable and add it to a recipe or look up ways to fix it online.

Over Consumption of Calories

Over Consumption of Calories

Keep this fact in mind: Over consumption of calories at one meal will always be converted into body fat.

Over Consumption of Calories
Over Consumption of Calories

Example of over-consumption. Let’s say you’re an average size female with a daily calorie intake of 1,800 calories. If you stop at McDonald’s for lunch and eat a Big Mac and a large fries, you’re ingesting 980 calories in that one sitting. You then go out for dinner. Did you know that the average restaurant meal, whether steak, Italian, Chinese, or fast food, can easily top 1000 calories?

Now you’re over your 1,800 calories and we didn’t count breakfast or snacks. Point being, it’s easy to over-consume calories in one sitting, making it equally as easy to gain weight in the form of fat, not muscle.

What Happens to Those Calories from Over Consumption?

Body Fat
Body Fat

When you eat a meal, your food is digested then directed into cells that require immediate energy. Once the cells have their energy needs met, the body stores the excess fuel in the form of glycogen in your muscles and liver. However, just like the cells need for energy, your body only needs so much glycogen, too. When there is an excess, it’s stored as the dreaded body fat.

This is one darned good reason for portion control and striving not to overeat in one sitting.

To help avoid this problem, your goal should be to get in the habit of never, ever eating huge meals or stuffing yourself.

Well, except on Thanksgiving 😉 .

We often find ourselves unable to admit just how much we truly eat. This may be completely innocent, as we tend to grab a bite here and there without thinking about it. This may be a life long habit. To seriously involve yourself in the avoidance of over consumption of calories, perhaps you would benefit from keeping a food diary.

In summary, spread out your daily calories to avoid over consumption and the resulting fat storage.

Avoid Fat Storage
Avoid Fat Storage in Your Body

Six Daily Calorie Requirements

Daily Calorie Requirements
Daily Calorie Requirements


Six Daily Calorie Requirements

Below you will find six daily calorie requirements for optimal nutrition. These are not all about food, but rather things that are required for good health.

Caloric Intake Factors

There are six factors that affect your daily calorie requirements. We’ll break them down and briefly explain each one. But please keep in mind that actual calorie expenditures can vary widely. They are much higher for athletes or extremely active people. Calorie requirements can also vary among people with the same activity levels. This is due to differences in inherited metabolic rates.

1.  Basil Metabolic Rate (BMR) for Daily Calorie Requirements

BMR is the total number of calories you burn for your normal, every day bodily functions. This consists of every metabolic process in your body. Factors are digestion, temperature regulation, breathing, etc. BMR usually accounts for the largest amount of your daily calorie expenditure (about two-thirds). BMR can vary dramatically from person to person depending on genetic factors.

2.  Activity Level for Daily Calorie Requirements

This is the 2nd most important factor in the amount of calories you burn every day. This is a very simple one: The more active you are, the more calories you require and burn.

3.  Body Weight for Daily Calorie Requirements

Your body weight and body size are a big factor, as well. The larger you are, the higher your calorie requirement.

4.  Lean Body Mass for Daily Calorie Requirements

Knowing what your lean body mass is helps you calculate your calorie needs more accurately because the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest. Muscle requires a great deal of energy to sustain it.

5.  Age

Our metabolism naturally slows down as our age goes up. But you can prevent – and even reverse – age-related metabolism slow-down by developing and keeping more muscle. See Exercise Tips for Senior Citizens.

6.  The Gender Factor

Fact: The average man requires more calories than the average woman. The reason is due to muscle mass and weight. Men generally weigh more and have more muscle by nature. How can you use this information? By gaining a better understanding of what factors affect your fat burning ability, you can determine how you can improve it. This can be for weight loss, maintaining your current level of fitness, or how you could help gain weight.

See also: Calories: To Count or Not To Count