Dairy products have been lauded for their contributions of protein, calcium and riboflavin to the American diet. They have also been highly criticized, like other foods from animal sources, for their fat content and the large number of calories they add. But milk, butter, cream, yogurt, ice cream and cheese can be healthful additions to a conscientious diet when included in either reduced-fat form or when portion size is controlled.
There are a number of ways to prevent excess fat from making its way into the diet hidden under the mask of good protein. Choosing "lite" versions of some of these products, such as process cheese food or ice milk, is one way.
In general, however, limiting intake of those dairy products with high fat tallies is the best way to prevent excess fat from slipping into the diet. Here are a few guidelines from the American Heart Assn:
Avoid Excess Fat
Because milk may be purchased with a varying degree of fat (whole milk is 4% fat, low fat is 2% fat and skim milk is 0% fat), try lowering the use of whole milk and its products, beginning first with the reduction from whole to low fat and ultimately using skim or fluid nonfat milk whenever possible. Evaporated skim milk can stand in for cream, which should be avoided at all times. Buttermilk made from skim or low-fat milk is another healthful choice.
Use reduced calorie or (diet) margarines in place of butter. Look for yogurt, ice cream and those forms of cheese that are made low in calories depending upon the milk product (whole or skim) from which they are derived (nonfat yogurt and part-skim mozzarella or ricotta cheese, for example).
Cutting back on the use of high fat cheeses is another recommendation. Substitute dry curd or low fat cottage cheese for creamed varieties, choose Parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta and avoid most other hard cheeses and cream cheese.
The following are some familiar dishes that typically rank fairly high in calories and fat. The selection of low-fat dairy products makes the difference.
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup crushed bran flakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cups skim milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) can pizza sauce
4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
Combine flour, cereal and baking powder. Add milk and 1/4 cup oil. Stir with fork until mixture forms ball. Knead dough on lightly floured surface, about 10 times. With greased fingers, press dough into 14-inch round pizza pan or 10x15-inch jellyroll pan, sprayed with non-stick coating spray. Shape edge to form rim. Bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute mushrooms, carrots, zucchini and onion in remaining oil over medium heat about 3 minutes. Spoon pizza sauce over crust, spreading evenly to edge. Top with sauteed vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese and seasoning. Bake 15 minutes longer, or until cheese melts. Makes 8 servings.
PER SERVING: 260 calories; 9 gm protein; 28 gm carbohydrate; 13 gm fat; 356 mg sodium; 316 mg potassium.
Protein 14% Riboflavin 22% Vitamin A 94% Niacin 16% Vitamin C 18% Calcium 18% Thiamine 18% Iron 14%
CRUNCHY CHICKEN FRUIT SALAD
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 3/4 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 medium oranges, sectioned and diced
1/2 cup green grapes, halved
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup crunchy nut-like cereal nuggets
Combine yogurt, vinegar, honey, mustard and pepper in small bowl. Stir with wire whisk until blended. Set aside.
Combine chicken, oranges, grapes and celery in bowl. Refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, fold in cereal and dressing. Makes 3 servings.
PER SERVING: 325 calories; 31 gm protein; 26 gm carbohydrate; 181 gm fat; 47 mg sodium; 737mg potassium.
Protein 47% Riboflavin 24% Vitamin A 15% Niacin 59% Vitamin C 79% Calcium 15% Thiamine 20% Iron 14%
ENCHILADA-STYLE CHICKEN PIE
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
3/4 cup sliced black olives, drained
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 drops hot pepper sauce
Prepare pie crust according to package directions for unfilled single-crust pie. Refrigerate remaining crust for later use. Pierce crust generously with fork.
Combine 1 egg and Worcestershire and brush over crust, reserving any remaining egg mixture for filling. Microwave crust on HIGH 6 to 8 minutes, rotating pan 1/2 turn every 2 minutes. Crust is done when surface appears dry and flaky.
Place onions in microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain well and set aside.
To assemble pie, layer chicken, onions, chiles, olives and cheese in cooked pie crust.