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3 Healthy (and Delicious!) Dairy Recipes

Use yogurt and kefir for a refreshing summer breakfast, lunch and dinner

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En español | My dad remembers growing up on his family farm, where one of his chores was to milk the cows. Back then milk wasn't homogenized, and he vividly remembers skimming and drinking the cream that rose to the top. Working the fields every day, he needed rich milk's health benefits and calories. Few of us work hard enough to justify such an indulgence regularly, but we still benefit from dairy's many nutrients.

Chicken Souvlaki Salad is light dish made with yogurt. (Maggy Keet)

Consider chicken souvlaki salad for dinner or try another healthy dish, packed with vitamin D and other nutrients. — Maggy Keet

Yogurt and kefir, which is similar to yogurt, are wonderful sources of calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein for us over-50 folks. They're also low-cal, low-carb and low-sodium, and contain special strains of probiotics, or good bacteria, which regulate digestion and fortify our immune system.

Start the morning with a Greek yogurt breakfast parfait, resisting your immediate instinct to go sweet. Experiment with Middle Eastern flavors by using savory ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Crumbled pita chips are a crisp alternative to granola in this colorful parfait.

Include dairy at lunch, too, with Creamy Avocado Soup. Unlike yogurt, kefir has lower milk solids, giving it a drinkable consistency. You can use it (along with a little garlic and dill for flavor) to thin healthful avocados into soup for a refreshing warm-weather lunch. Look for kefir in the refrigerated section at natural or health food stores — I get mine at Whole Foods. If you can't find it, substitute buttermilk, which is similar in taste but is made by a different process and contains only one probiotic strain versus kefir's 12 microorganisms and cultures.

And serve up hearty Grilled Chicken Souvlaki Salad for dinner. The yogurt, flavored with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and oregano, works efficiently as both marinade for the chicken and dressing for the salad. This time of year you can fire up the grill to cook both the chicken and the bread, or stay indoors and use a stovetop grill. You can also sauté the chicken on the stovetop and toast the garlicky pita in the oven.

Savory Tomato-Cucumber Breakfast Parfaits

Serves 2

  • 1 generous cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup small-diced cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled pita chips

Spoon a generous 1/4 cup of yogurt into each of 2 small bowls (or goblets if you like). Top each with 1/4 cup of cucumbers, drizzle with half the olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread each with a portion of remaining yogurt, then 1/4 cup of tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Top each with pita chips and serve.

Next page: Creamy avocado soup and grilled chicken souvlaki salad. »

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