Lower fat dairy choices key to good health

he parents of the baby boomer generation had the right idea: serve a glass of milk at most meals, instead of pop or juice. Dairy products are necessary in our nutritional regime because they are so rich in nutrients including calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin D. There are many ways to incorporate dairy into our daily diet.

First, consider that along with all the benefits of dairy foods, there is one drawback – fat. The good news is that there are now many low-fat or no-fat dairy choices on the market. When you do your weekly groceries, include low-fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, and reduced fat cream and hard cheeses. While planning meals, consider adding some different ingredients to your dairy purchases. A variety of fruits, cereals, peanut butter or nuts can be put into yogurt or smoothies.

Using other ingredients from your pantry or refrigerator along with dairy products will also help you create wonderful muffins and cakes. Additionally, adding dairy to your savoury dishes will inspire you to fashion wonderful main courses including quiches, pastas, puddings and soups.

Breakfast has traditionally been the meal when dairy foods are served. We often enjoy dairy foods at lunchtime as well. So why not marry the two and consider planning a brunch, either as an excuse for a family get together or for a special occasion or holiday. Shavuot, when dairy foods are traditionally served, is the perfect time.




Like the popular lemon poppy seed loaf, these fluffy pancakes will fly off the table. Consider doubling the recipe, so there will be enough for seconds.


1-1/4 cups skim milk

1 egg, beaten

zest of one lemon, zest removed with a microplane, or chopped very fine

1 tsp. pure lemon extract

2 tbsp. melted butter

additional butter or oil to brush onto the skillet or griddle

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. poppy seeds

2 -1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt


In a small bowl, combine skim milk, egg, lemon zest, lemon extract and 2 tablespoons melted butter until blended.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. Gradually combine the wet mixture into the dry ingredients.

Brush skillet or griddle with melted butter. Heat to medium-high. Using 1/4 cup measure of batter for each pancake, pour batter into the pan about 2 to 3 inches apart. Cook the pancakes until the edges brown and the pancakes begin to bubble. Carefully turn the pancakes over and continue cooking until they are golden. Serve immediately. Serves 4.


Strawberry Sauce

2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced in half

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

zest of one lemon, zest removed with a microplane, or chopped very fine

1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water


Combine strawberries, water, sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until strawberries are soft, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add cornstarch mixture to strawberries. Stir until sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature. You can make the sauce the day before and refrigerate.




These muffins are a great addition to your brunch menu. The batter can be prepared the day before and refrigerated. The muffins can be baked in the morning, or they can be baked ahead.


1 cup skim milk

1 tsp. vinegar

4 oz. fresh ginger root, peeled

2 eggs

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1-1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 -3/4 cups flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp.salt

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained well


Add the vinegar to the skim milk and set aside. Finely grate ginger by cutting it into small pieces and processing in food processor until finely minced. Add to the processor the milk, eggs, applesauce, butter, sugar and lemon zest. Combine. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and pulse until combined. Mix in cranberries by hand. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. (Spray with canola oil or use muffin cups.)

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven about 30-35 minutes, or until tops are golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 18 muffins.




Prepare this pie a day ahead and refrigerate it until serving time. Pair it with fresh fruit or cooked fruit compote.



1/2 a 350g box of Lifestyle Cranberry Citrus Oat Crunch cookies or similar thin low-fat cookies. Reserve 6 cookies to use as garnish if desired

2 tbsp. melted butter


500 g package of 0% fat dry pressed cottage cheese

2 tbsp. flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup skim milk

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla


1 cup low-fat sour cream

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla

6 cookies, processed into crumbs for garnish


Place cookies into food processor and process until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and process until combined. Press crumb mixture into a 9-in. Pyrex pie plate. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.

Combine all the filling ingredients in the food processor until smooth. Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until set.

Remove from oven and increase temperature to 450. Combine low-fat sour cream, sugar and vanilla to create topping. Smooth topping over pie and bake for 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Garnish with cookie crumbs if desired.




This smoothie is deliciously decadent with a milkshake-like consistency, but remains a healthy low-fat beverage or snack.


1/2 ripe banana

1/2 cup 0% fat vanilla yogurt or 1/2 cup 0% fat plain yogurt, if you prefer no sugar added.

1/2 cup skim milk

2 ice cubes

1/2 cup frozen blueberries


In a blender, process the banana, yogurt, skim milk and ice until well blended. Add the blueberries and blend until combined. Serve immediately.