12 ways to squeeze more dairy into your kids’ diets
Do you find it challenging to get your kids to eat enough dairy foods every day? With the daily recommended dairy intake being three serves, you are not alone!
In fact, a recent survey has discovered that one-third of all students in kindergarten to Year 4 are drinking less than a cup of milk a day. And it’s not water that’s replacing milk - many children are drinking more fruit juice, cordial and sports drinks than good old milk – which is raising health concerns not only about kids not getting the calcium they need for developing strong bones and teeth but also about the quantity of additional sugar they are consuming which is leading to increased tooth decay.
What makes three serves of dairy?
A serve is one of these:
- 1 glass/small carton of plain/flavoured milk (250mL)
- 2 slices/sticks or 4 cubes of cheese (40g)
- 1 small tub of yogurt (200g)
While the list may not look hard to achieve, parents of fussy eaters know the challenges of littlies who flat out refuse to eat one spoonful of yoghurt, let alone a glass of milk! So before you envision parenting weak-boned children who are crippled with osteoporosis and a mouthful of tooth decay later in life, we have asked Jen Cheung, Kidspot Food Editor, for her tips on sneaking more dairy into their diet.
“We all want our kids to have strong healthy teeth and bones and a diet that is rich in calcium is the best way to ensure this,” says Jen. “Dairy foods are so much easier to slip into their diet in comparison to fruit and veggies because you can hide them in sauces, smoothies, baked goods - and kids love anything with a golden cheesy top on it!”
Jen suggests always making dairy products as portable as possible so kids can take their dairy snack and go. Buy small yoghurt packs and disposable spoons, as well as portioned cheese and crackers. And if your kids are happy to drink milk, make sure it’s icy cold, which makes it easier to drink and perfect on cereal and in smoothies.
But if you have to serve your dairy camouflaged as something else, Jen suggests the following:
Slip some into their lunch box with crackers or smooth cream cheese onto rice cakes for a tasty snack. Sprinkle it on pizza, oven bakes, lasagne and grate it up for them to sprinkle on pasta. You can also make cream cheese icing for cakes, cheese sauce and don’t forget dips that have a cream cheese base like French onion dip.
Make your own (so easy and so delicious!) and serve it drizzled with honey and sprinkled with almonds; use it as a dip for fruit, stir icing sugar into yoghurt and use it to ice muffins or freeze it into popsicles for a great summer treat.
Keep some berries in the freezer to blend with your milk, add a spoonfull of flavouring, whizz it in the blender with a banana or use it to simmer a delicious rice cream pudding.
Don’t forget that cream is a great source of dairy too and can be used to make sauces like carbonara, as well as homemade ice cream and scones. And low-fat sour cream is a fantastic base for dips.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot, New Zealand's best family health resource.