The Power of Processing: Local Family-Owned Dairy Farms + Innovation

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Kelly-SpringerNothing is better than fresh, pure milk products (milk, cheese and yogurt). We all know the slogan, “Milk—it does a body good,” but do you know why?

A Nutritional Powerhouse

First, dairy is an amazing source of protein, which is an important building-block of healthy muscle, skin, tissues, and blood. Several studies have shown that consuming milk products helps to maintain a healthy weight, most likely because of the protein. Milk is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important for building strong bones.

And here’s a fact not many people know milk has an abundance of electrolytes—it makes a great recovery sports drink for this reason!

Local Love

Most of the milk products you love come from local farms! For folks like myself in Central New York, we are lucky to have dozens of local, family-owned dairy farms. Team these local farmers up to create Cayuga Milk Ingredients and you get the freshest, purest milk products imaginable. Allow me the honor to introduce you to Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

Cow to Carton

Cayuga Milk Ingredients (CMI) is a 108,000 square-foot milk-processing facility in Auburn, NY. Each day, 2.3 million pounds of milk comes through this facility, all from within a 25-mile radius of the plant. A range of high-quality milk products are produced expediently—from the time that the cow is milked, the finished product manufactured at CMI can take less than nine hours to produce!

Earlier this month, I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Cayuga Milk Ingredients manufacturing plant. This company, near my hometown in Central New York is the ideal representation of how to produce fresh milk products.

As I arrived at the plant, a truck load of milk from a nearby dairy farm came in. The milk is tested for antibiotics and bacteria before it even enters the plant! This assures that the milk is wholesome and clean when it enters the facility, so that contamination is not possible. The importance of hygiene in this plant was very apparent—the facility was immaculate.

Cleanliness is King

Kevin Ellis, the CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, an operation with 70 dedicated employees, gave me the tour. His and his employees’ attention to detail, cleanliness and high-quality products is off the charts! To ensure superior hygiene, employees and visitors wear booties, hair nets, a smock, and remove jewelry, and are required to wash their hands and change their booties no less than four times when they move deeper into the facility.  Each increasing level of hygiene is strictly adhered to ensuring CMI’s products are of the highest quality.

Innovation

The way that the milk is processed is very innovative. Much of the production is computer-assisted to help reduce bacterial contamination and human error.

Both dried milk protein and liquid milk products are tested for quality assurance in this facility. The dried milk protein is held in the facility for 8-10 days with constant testing and retesting of microorganisms to assure that the finished product is as high-quality as possible.

At any given time, there are 2.5 million pounds of finished products, which include milk powders (used for…), and various milk protein powders. I am particularly intrigued by a product known as liquid ultra-filtered milk, which is produced with a high- pressure membrane system. This all-natural low-fat milk has double the amount of protein of standard skim milk and half the sugar! How cool is that?

I loved the approach of CMI’s CEO, Kevin Ellis: “Our employees are our most important resource. We’re dedicated to producing high-quality milk ingredients from our farmer owners’ high-quality milk, while simultaneously improving the dairy industry by raising the bar for high standards. We’re confident you’ll see that the finest products come from the finest ingredients. We promise to not only meet your expectations, but exceed them!”

To me, it is awesome to know that ultra-high-quality, nutritious and pure milk products are being produced by CMI in such a way that family-owned farms, where cows are treated humanely are part of the process.

 By Kelly Springer, RD, MS. CDN

Spring into Health with Stir-fries

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I love making stir-fries; it’s one of the easiest throw-together meals that satisfy my boyfriend, my daughters, and me! I have been adding delicious spring veggies to make my stir-fries especially tasty this time of year. Here are a few of my favorite veggies to add to a spring-inspired stir-fry.

Baby Bok Choy

Milder than regular Bok Choy, I love the crunch in this super green veggie. Not to mention that this veggies contains over 70 antioxidants, which reduce the oxidative stress that is associated with so many diseases, including cancer.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the green shoots from garlic bulbs. I love adding so much flavor to my stir fries with chopped garlic scapes. It’s like an alternative to scallions that you might often use in stir-fries. They add a lot of antiviral and antibacterial properties to the dish and vitamin C too.

Asparagus

I already did an entire spring into health blog on this. Read the amazing health benefits of asparagus here. I often use broccoli for stir-fries, but in spring, I swap out the broccoli for asparagus. Delicious!

Peas

Peas are a great way to give a protein boost to your stir-fry and they are bursting in minerals and fiber too!

Basil

Herbs are so easy to grow in spring and just like the garlic scapes, basil adds a terrific flavor and it contains nearly 100 percent of your vitamin K needs. It is also a great source of magnesium and has amazing anti-bacterial properties.

So there you have it, my favorite veggies and herb to add to stir-fries this time of year. Add a scrambled egg or lean chicken breast for added protein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Do with the Leftover Easter Eggs

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eggsAfter tomorrow’s Easter egg hunt, what do you do with those leftover eggs? I am definitely a proponent of hard-boiled eggs as a delicious, protein-rich snack for my girls, but they can only have so many hard-boiled eggs before they get bored with them. Here are some more exciting dishes I create with those left-over eggs:

Cobb Salad:

Who doesn’t love a Cobb salad for a quick and easy week-night dinner? I use romaine lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, shredded carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, grilled chicken breast, and a tiny bit of crumbled blue cheese in my Cobb salads.

Breakfast for Dinner:

Chop those eggs and add them to small chopped roasted potatoes with onions and green and red bell peppers. Add a bit of hot sauce for adults or ketchup for kids. This is a favorite in my household!

Done-up Avocado Egg Salad:

You can go ahead and make egg salad, but try my healthy rendition. Mash two hard-boiled eggs with one avocado, and add 2 tablespoons of  Greek yogurt and a dash of lime juice and a small squeeze of mustard. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Pickled Eggs

I turned my girls onto pickled eggs, which were a favorite of mine as a little girl. Drop the peeled eggs whole into a sterilized glass jar, cover with leftover pickle juice and seal to make pickled eggs; chill and enjoy for up to two weeks.

A Healthier Macaroni Salad

Add two chopped up hard boiled eggs, a can of tunafish, 2 chopped celery stalks, and four cups of cooked whole wheat elbows (or try quinoa or corn elbows). Add a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt and sea salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!! I hope you find these ideas helpful. And many of you may be thinking how long do Easter eggs last? Refrigerated, hard-boiled eggs are good for one week whether or not they are peeled or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring into health with raw veggies

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With welcoming warm weather, it’s the perfect time to try adding more raw foods into our diets. Raw foods include foods with no application of heat of any kind. That means no cooking, grilling, or steaming the foods.

Adding more raw foods into your diet is quite simple actually. A gradual change toward more raw food in one’s diet is better for people who are used to consuming most of their meals cooked.

Raw food advocates believe that because raw food maintains all its enzymes, it is easier to digest and it is more nutritious than cooked veggies.

I believe veggies are great for you whether cooked or raw, but I do find that as winter turns to spring, I do get more of a spring in step when I add more raw foods to my diet.

Always consider how you can add vegetables to what you are preparing. Instead of cooking vegetables out of habit, find out if there’s another way of preparing them. For example:

  • Marinate kale, broccoli, mushrooms, or other veggies that are typically cooked to give them a soft, tender texture.
  • Another texture I love is that of shredded carrots, beets or zucchini added to my salads.
  • Raw corn, scraped off the cob, makes a tasty salad that goes well with tomatoes, fresh herbs, peppers, or zucchini.
  • To make a raw tomato sauce, simply blend ripe summer tomatoes with fresh herbs and a touch of garlic or onion.

Also, try giving juicing a go! No juicer? No problem! One of my favorite juices only requires a blender. Blend half an avocado, a cup of spinach, a half-cup of pineapple and ice for a delicious green juice!

How are you adding more raw veggies to your diet? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Spring into Health with Stir-fries

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I love making stir-fries; it’s one of the easiest throw-together meals that satisfy my boyfriend, my daughters, and me! I have been adding delicious spring veggies to make my stir-fries especially tasty this time of year. Here are a few of my favorite veggies to add to a spring-inspired stir-fry.

Baby Bok Choy

Milder than regular Bok Choy, I love the crunch in this super green veggie. Not to mention that this veggies contains over 70 antioxidants, which reduce the oxidative stress that is associated with so many diseases, including cancer.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the green shoots from garlic bulbs. I love adding so much flavor to my stir fries with chopped garlic scapes. It’s like an alternative to scallions that you might often use in stir-fries. They add a lot of antiviral and antibacterial properties to the dish and vitamin C too.

Asparagus

I already did an entire spring into health blog on this. Read the amazing health benefits of asparagus here. I often use broccoli for stir-fries, but in spring, I swap out the broccoli for asparagus. Delicious!

Peas

Peas are a great way to give a protein boost to your stir-fry and they are bursting in minerals and fiber too!

Basil

Herbs are so easy to grow in spring and just like the garlic scapes, basil adds a terrific flavor and it contains nearly 100 percent of your vitamin K needs. It is also a great source of magnesium and has amazing anti-bacterial properties.

So there you have it, my favorite veggies and herb to add to stir-fries this time of year. Add a scrambled egg or lean chicken breast for added protein.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring into Health with Asparagus

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4012644047_0828109f44_o.jpgNow that it is FINALLY starting to feel like spring (after it just snowed a couple days ago), I feel inspired to do a mini-series on spring cleaning (your body). Let me begin with asparagus. There is no better time to start increasing the seasonal veggies in your diet. It’s time to detox from those heavy winter meals!

When you eat fresh, seasonal veggies, you automatically feel more alive. Head out to the farmers’ markets the next couple of months and you will no doubt find fresh asparagus from local farms. I consider asparagus a spring veggie superstar! Here’s why Asparagus gets an A+ for nutrition in my book.

Asparagus is super high in vitamin K and folate.

Many people I have worked with know that vitamin K is important for healthy blood clotting and most people get enough vitamin K in their diet to help ensure that the blood is clotting optimally. However, vitamin K helps with so many other functions and most people do not get enough vitamin K to help with these factors.

Vitamin K keeps your bones strong. It is crucial as we age to protect our bones. Bone loss is the cause of so many health problems, especially hip fractures, which in many cases starts a downward spiral in health ailments for women after they go through menopause. But it is never too early to protect your bones. Most of us know that calcium is great for bone health; consider vitamin K as the key holder to getting calcium and other important minerals into your bones. Several Japanese clinical trials have proven how amazing vitamin K is for your bones. One study using data collected from the trials found that vitamin K supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures.

Vitamin K can also help prevent cancer. A German study in 2008 found that vitamin K helped prevent prostate cancer; other studies have found that vitamin K helps protect you from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, colon, stomach, and oral cancers.

Folate is an energizer! Folate helps prevent soaring homocysteine levels. When your homocysteine levels are high, you are at a much larger risk for developing heart problems. High homocysteine levels can also impair the brain, causing dementia or mood imbalances. So get your folate to manage your heart and mind! Folate is one of the most important vitamins for women to consume when they are pregnant; in addition to helping maintain a healthy mood, it also helps prevent birth defects.

In addition to vitamin K and folate, asparagus is heralded as an anti-inflammatory because it contains dozens of antioxidants! Because those antioxidants destroy free radicals, you are essentially helping to prevent almost every health ailment when you eat asparagus!

Head out to the market and get yourself some asparagus today! The white and purple varieties are yummy too. Lightly sauté it as a side dish. Toss it in salads too. To get the most nutrients from asparagus, try to consume it within a couple days of getting it from the market.

Sneaking in Protein to your Meals

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How did you do on the No White Flour Challenge? If you want to continue to stick to that plan, protein will help you out a lot by keeping you satiated and energized. I do not mean indulging in fatty proteins though—nope I am not advocating for rich cheese and bacon! Here are my favorite ways to boost protein in my meals throughout the day!

Breakfast (The most important meal of the day):

  • Greek yogurt all the way with fruit and some raw nuts! An average serving of Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein. A ¼ cup of walnuts (my personal favorite) adds a few more grams of protein.
  • A smoothie with skim milk, fruit and chia seeds. Ten ounces of skim milk gives you close to 12 grams of protein. Two tablespoons of chia seeds give you 6 more grams of protein (not to mention 9 grams of fiber. Check out my blog about the importance of fiber here).
  • Scrambled egg on whole-grain toast. Two eggs have 12 grams of protein. A slice of whole grain toast adds an average of 4 more grams of protein!

Lunch:

  • Treat yourself to a colorful salad with 4 ounces of chicken breast (35 grams of protein), salmon (23 grams of protein), or tuna (23-28 grams of protein).

Dinner:

  • I love my quinoa. One cup of it has 18 grams of protein. Add a half cup of green peas and you get 4 more grams of protein. Drizzle with a little soy sauce or pan fry it with a teaspoon of sesame oil and is it ever so delicious. Add a scrambled egg to it for 6 more grams of protein.
  • Do you know that lentils with some seasoning and maybe some spinach mixed in, makes a delicious vegetarian dinner. One cup of lentils gives you 18 grams of protein and the spinach actually adds a bit more too!

Try out these powerful protein choices and let me know how they work for you!

~Kelly Springer, RD, CN, MS