Let’s face it: most of us could do with a little (or a lot!) more dairy in our lives. Did you know the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend women over 50 consume four serves of milk, cheese and yoghurt per day? But, as with most diet and lifestyle changes, upping your dairy intake is sometimes easier said than done.
To make this dietary adjustment easier, celebrity chef Karen Martini (Better Homes and Gardens, My Kitchen Rules) has joined the Dairy Australia family as a Legendairy ambassador. Karen is out to educate Australians about why milk, cheese and yoghurt are so good for our health and, most importantly, how to make incorporating them into our daily meals and snacks easy and delicious.
“I feel there is a growing misconception that dairy foods might not be that essential in the daily diet,” says Karen.
“In fact, I believe there is no substitute for dairy to deliver the same flavour or, more importantly, the nutritional benefits integral to the diet throughout different stages of life.”
According to Karen, cooking with dairy is a lot easier than many of us might think.
“One way to work more dairy into our daily diet is to look at how it can be included as a side dish, or on the table as an accompaniment,” she says.
“Cooking from scratch makes it easy, it’s then that you know what is in your food.
“I also think experimenting with ingredients and produce, brings the opportunity to break out of the routine of a rotating household menu that many families get into the rut of.”
Why dairy’s so important for over-60s
Research shows an alarming eight out of ten Australians do not meet the recommended daily requirements for milk, cheese and yoghurt – and this could be drastically affecting our day-to-day health and comfort.
As we age, our bones naturally begin to lose bone mass, leaving them more fragile and vulnerable to fracture. If left unchecked, this can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis – an illness that affects half of women over 60 and one third of men, often without their knowledge.
Calcium-rich foods including milk, cheese and yoghurt – alongside regular exercise and vitamin D – are among the easiest ways to keep your bones healthy and keep the worst at bay.
Keeping up your recommended daily dairy intake is particularly important for women who have transitioned through menopause, who need four dairy servings a day to maintain bone strength. Unfortunately, most Australian women are missing out.
Now for the fun part. According to Karen, “dairy products are pure, rich, luscious, and they enhance almost any ingredient you pair it with, so give it a go”.
Here are Karen’s top dairy recipes and tips:
- “Béchamel Sauce is essentially milk heated with the gentle savoury flavour of red onion, peppercorns and bay leaf that is then mixed with butter and flour to form a thick sauce. It’s great on roasted, baked or steamed vegetables, meat dishes, or pasta dishes like lasagne. This is such a delicious and versatile sauce, so it’s worth mastering”
- Cheese is the perfect entertainer “I love a gruyere style cheese for both the table and cooking, and parmesan of course!”
- “Panna cotta is an extremely beautiful thing. Vanilla & rosemary panna cotta with scorched lemon syrup is a favourite dairy based dessert.” Click here for the full recipe.
But the benefits don’t stop there.
Our appetite and energy needs tend to decrease with age, so it becomes all the more important to make every mouthful count. Nutrient-rich foods should be a staple of the majority of our meals and snacks through the day.
Dairy foods pack a lot of nutrition into a single serve. As well as calcium and protein for bones and muscles, they provide essential nutrients like vitamin A, riboflavin, iodine and phosphorus – all of which are important as our bodies age. It is because of this unique package of nutrients, that consuming adequate amounts of milk, cheese and yoghurt is associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease such as heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. The latest research also continues to show that these foods are not linked to weight gain or body fat gain.
Now that’s some food for thought.
Need inspiration on how to work dairy into your life? Legendairy has some easy and delicious recipe ideas to share. Click here to take a look!
This post is sponsored by Dairy Australia. It was written as we feel it delivers valuable health insights into a subject important to the Starts at 60 community. For more information, please visit the Legendairy website.