Can Diabetics Have Dairy?

November is national diabetes month, and while diabetes education takes place around the country everyday, this is a great time for awareness and discussion around what this disease means for people who have it and their families. As a Registered Dietitian, I have the opportunity to meet with many people diagnosed with diabetes. They are often counting carbohydrates, and cautiously avoiding dairy foods. When I ask why dairy isn’t part of their diet, their response centers around sugar. They are concerned that dairy foods have at least 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Carbohydrate grams are precious for people with diabetes, and when aiming for just 30-45 grams per meal, they might opt for an extra portion of pasta and a diet soda instead of milk. Why this may seem like a sound practice, milk is an important part of the diet for individuals with or without Diabetes.

Father Son Milk Mustache

For those with diabetes, nutrient-rich food choices are essential, and dairy is a nutrient powerhouse containing protein, carbohydrate, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and B-vitamins. Protein, in particular, slows carbohydrate absorption and helps control blood sugar. Dairy foods have also been shown to improve insulin resistance. So while dairy does contain carbohydrates, the protein it contains naturally keeps those carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and spiking blood sugar. This is key for those with diabetes. Protein-rich foods also help keep us full longer (satiety), which has been shown to help with weight loss – another plus for those with diabetes. For diabetics who are overweight, losing just 7% of total body weight can dramatically improve symptoms associated with the disease.

For those without diabetes, eating a diet that includes dairy has been shown to decrease the risk of developing type two diabetes in a variety of populations. The reason behind this is still unknown, and researchers have hypothesized that it might be dairy’s glycemic index, calcium content, or the synergy of its components. While we may not know the exact metabolic mechanism, dairy consumption continues to be associated with decreased-risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Research Summaries

Take Home Message

  • Dairy foods help optimize health and reduce disease risk.
  • Without dairy, it can be difficult to stay within a calorie budget and get enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients, so keep it in your diet!
  • Health professionals encourage 3 servings of dairy a day for those with and without diabetes.
  • Enjoy this delicious food group and all its benefits for a lifetime of health.


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Gossners Food: Next Stop on Our Cheesy Adventure


What started out as a little Swiss cheese making plant in 1966, has turned into an industry-leading family business that is one of the country’s largest Swiss cheese manufacturers. Gossner Foods offers several varieties of Swiss cheese, ranging from a mild Baby Swiss to the full-bodied flavor of their European- Style Old World Swiss. They also produce shelf-stable milk in a variety of flavors, small batches of specialty ice cream, butter, and whipping cream.

350 dairy farm families operate the 190 dairy farms in Utah and Idaho that service Gossner Foods’ two plants (Logan, UT and Burley, ID). Owner and CEO, Dolores Wheeler, has always operated on the “handshake” principle. She doesn’t have contracts with her farmers but believes in mutual trust and respect, feeling that if the relationship is good it will grow and prosper, if not, then the farmer is under no binding obligation. The philosophy has worked well, and the company has a wonderful reputation among the local farming community.

Touring their large, state-of-the-art plant was a great experience and different from our recent cheesy adventures. Because they are a leading Swiss cheese producer, everything was done on a larger scale than our precious tours. Large mixing vats and custom-made equipment are essential to the company’s quality operation.

Making each variety of cheese is a unique process that follows time-proven recipes with specialized equipment and specific aging protocols. Because of this, many large cheese manufacturers specialize in a single variety. Gossner specializes in Swiss and Muenster, a fresher, soft cheese.

The Process of Making Swiss & UHT Milk

After our tour we had the chance to try many of their products at their onsite store. In addition to their Swiss, they offer many other cheese varieties and economy end cuts of cheese at a great price. They also offer homemade ice cream (available only at their Logan store), fresh butter and handmade cheese spreads. At the store you can stock up on shelf-stable milk in a variety of flavors (Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, Rootbeer, Cookies & Cream, Orange Cream, Banana, Mango) and fresh cheese curds – made every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you happen to stop by during the holidays, you can pick up a quart of seasonal Holiday Nog – a favorite that sells out quickly!

The Store:

1051 North 1000 West, Logan, UT  84321 | 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday

Make sure to check out this premium dairy producer!


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Frittata – The Perfect “Leftover” Dish

As part of a new series, we have decided to feature recipes! One of our staff members, Becky Low, has a weekly segment on KSL’s Studio 5, where she has been sharing tasty recipes for almost 20 years.

Becky Low

Becky Low

This week, I decided to highlight her Utah Frittata. If you have never made a frittata before, you are going to fall in love with this easy, quick, tasty breakfast. I called it a leftover frittata, because you can put almost anything inside. It is the perfect way to use up a few of those leftover veggies, before your weekly shopping trip. This Frittata makes an economical breakfast, a gourmet luncheon, or an easy super dish.

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I had some leftover green onions, tomatoes, a green pepper, and bacon, so that is what I used in this frittata, but the options are endless. These are a few of Becky’s recommended fillings:

  • vegetables: sliced mushrooms, chopped onion, sliced zucchini, spinach, strips of bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, frozen O’Brien hash brown potatoes, or other vegetables of choice.
  • meats: diced ham, sausage, cubed chicken, or other meats of choice.
  • cheeses: cheddar, mozzarella, smoked gouda, parmesan, crumbled feta, or other favorite cheese and combination of cheeses.

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Once I had chosen my fillings, I mixed up my eggs and milk, chopped up my veggies and meat, and sautéed my peppers and bacon on the stove top. Fritatta’s traditionally start on the stove and finish in the oven, so an oven-safe pan or skillet is key.  I chose my beloved cast iron skillet – everything tastes better in cast iron, right? (Nutrition Tip: Cooking with cast iron is a great way to boost dietary iron, especially for those who are iron deficient!)

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After only 20 minutes in the oven, I had a protein packed, colorful, nutritious breakfast. This recipe will have your family eating veggies for breakfast and begging for seconds. If you happen to have leftovers, they reheat well in a toaster oven.

I love that frittatas are easy enough for a weekday, but pretty enough for a weekend brunch. Enjoy!

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Leftover Frittata

Basic Use-What-You-Have Ingredients: 
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 cups filling ingredients
8 eggs
1/4 cup cream, half n half, or milk
1 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

* I used 2 strips bacon, 1 bell pepper, 3 green onions, 2 tomatoes, and Queso Fresco Fuego Verde Cheese.

Over medium heat, saute vegetables or other filling ingredients until tender. Beat together eggs and cream or milk; stir in half the cheese; pour over filling ingredients. Cook according to one of the methods below.

BAKE: Use a 10-inch non-stick oven proof skillet, cake pan, pie plate, or cast iron pan. Preheat oven to 375° F; spray pan with non-stick spray; pour frittata ingredients into prepared pan, top with remaining cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until center is set and Frittata is puffy.

STOVETOP BROIL: Use a broil safe skillet or pan (no non-stick surfaces), such as stainless steel, cast iron, or other similar pans. Saute vegetables and other filling ingredients as directed above. Beat together eggs and cream or milk, stir in half the cheese, pour eggs over filling and stir to mix. Cook on stovetop over medium heat; while cooking, periodically gently push sides of frittata toward the center of pan, slightly tilt pan to allow liquid eggs to fill the gap. Cook until bottom is set and center is almost cooked. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place pan under broiler for 3-6 minutes or until top is golden brown, center is set, and frittata is puffy.

Printer Friendly: Leftover Frittata

Check out the original and browse our recipe archive here.


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NFL QB Alex Smith Inspires Kids Through Utah’s Fuel Up to Play 60 School Assemblies

This fall, all around Utah, NFL Quarterback Alex Smith has made a virtual appearance in our Fuel Up to Play 60 Assemblies. Video chatting with kids from elementary school through Jr. High, Alex interacts with students, Trudy the cow, and our Fuel Up to Play 60 coach, Ashley, to bring great messages and fun into the schools. These assemblies have been a great way to raise awareness about the power of Fuel Up to Play 60, a program started by Utah’s Dairy Farmers through the National Dairy Council and the National Football League.  As the nation’s largest in-school wellness program, Fuel Up to Play 60 is inspiring kids to make changes at their school.

“The messages from the FUTP60 program – being active, eating healthy, and making positive changes in ourselves – are things that everyone can relate to and benefit from. Plus it is so much fun!” – Ashley Huntington (Fuel Up Coach & Dairy Council Events Director)

“We know kids need to eat right and be more active. Moving more and eating right helps kids fight childhood obesity. We’re here to help. We are we engaged in these assemblies, because healthy can be fun! From the video chat with NFL Quarter back Alex Smith, to Trudy Moo the cow showing kids how to dance – even the milk mustache contest with the principal, the kids love it and they learn. Kids are our future and the Fuel Up assemblies teach kids how to have fun while they learn habits for a lifetime.” – Becky Low (Dairy Council Nutrition Education)

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Hormones in Your Food

By Allen Young, Extension Dairy Specialist & Associate Professor Utah State University 

Hormones and their relationship to food are a hot topic, but… What are they? Are they in my food naturally? Are they added to foods? What impact do they have on the body? To answer these questions and understand the impact of hormones, we need to learn a little about them.

The study of hormones is called endocrinology, a term taken from the classical definition of hormones, which states that they are messenger compounds secreted by ductless glands in the body (endocrine glands) that cause an effect on another organ, tissue or cell. In order to be biologically active and do their job properly, each specific hormone needs a very specialized protein located on the organ, tissue, or cell where they have an effect. These are called receptors and their job is to bind the hormone and starts/cause their unique effect.  Think of it as a ball in a mitt.  As individual entities, the two have little effect, but, in baseball, a pop-fly that is caught results in an “out” and a potential cascade of effects. An example of this in action is the hormone insulin. Floating around in the blood stream, insulin is inert but once it binds to an insulin receptor on cells, the compound is able to pull sugar molecules from the bloodstream into the cells. When working properly, this process keeps our blood sugar from getting too high. Extreme problems with this particular hormone/receptor mechanism can be described as diabetes.

Hormones can be categorized into two broad classifications: steroids and protein hormones (amino acids).  Examples of steroid hormones are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.  Examples of protein hormones include growth hormone, insulin, or prolactin.  The human body produces over 50 hormones and could not function without them.

In addition to the hormones your body makes, there are other sources of hormones. Animals and plants produce hormones naturally, so we eat hormones in our food all the time, but the amounts we take in are low compared to what our bodies produce naturally.  Let’s use estrogen as an example.

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What happens when you give synthetic hormones to animals and then eat the meat or milk?  Basically the story is the same as above.  Any hormone you eat will be totally or partially degraded in the stomach (protein hormones) or the liver (steroids).  In the case of bovine somatotrophin (bovine growth hormone often abbreviated as rbST), not only is it degraded in the stomach, but the structure and receptors in humans won’t work with the bovine (cow) version of the hormone.  This hormone is species specific and inert in humans.What effect does ingesting these hormones have on our body?  The short answer is that only about 2-5% of the hormones we eat actually make it into our body because of inactivation during digestion. Of the protein hormones that we eat, essentially all of the hormone is broken down in the stomach and has no effect.  Steroids get inactivated as they pass through the liver.  When eaten in normal, moderate amounts, dietary hormones have essentially no effect on our body and its ability to do its job.

So, should you be concerned?  Probably not.  Our bodies produce the same hormones that we routinely ingest in food but in amounts that tend to dwarf the amounts we eat.  Normal intake of these foods should not have any effect on the body since the stomach and liver inactivate hormones through natural digestion. As in all dietary practices, moderation is key since excessive consumption of any one food can throw the body out of balance.

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Dairy: Farm to School

We cap off National Farm to School Month (or in this case “School to Farm”) with a story of University students visiting a dairy farm and processing plant. 

For the past two years, the Dairy Council of Utah has been working with Utah State University’s Food Literacy class to incorporate a dairy farm and processing plant tour into the curriculum. Students in Stacy Bevan’s Class (NDFS 1260) study food systems from the ground up where they learn to think critically and understand how our food system and food supply impacts health. The course is designed for Nutrition and Food Science Majors, Family and Consumer Science Majors, and Family and Consumer Science Education Majors – all fields that involve talking with others about where their food comes from.

With fewer and fewer people involved with agriculture, taking University students to the farm and the processing plant is a great way to show them how their dairy foods are harvested and brought to market.  Our hope is that experiential education will add depth to their course and provide a tangible understanding of food systems.

USU Tour Fall 2014 Munk Farms

At Munk Farms in Amalga, Utah

Students visit Munk Farms in Amalga, Utah. The Munk’s sell their milk to Gossner Foods – one of the country’s largest Swiss Cheese manufacturers and a producer of shelf-stable milk. Since the Gossner Foods processing plant is just down the road in Logan, Utah, the students are able to go from their farm tour to the processing plant where they can see how raw milk is made into ready-to-consume dairy foods. And…they have a chance to try a few before heading back to campus.

“The dairy farm tour is a great way to have real-life application for the concepts of food systems that we have been learning in class. The students were able to see how their dairy foods get from the farm at the Munk’s dairy farm to processing at Gossner’s plant to consumption with samples of delicious milk, cheese, and ice cream. The hands-on, sensory-based farm tour will be an experience students will not forget and will help them more accurately educate about dairy foods and where they come from.”

- Stacy Bevan, MS RDN (Course Instructor)

USU students eating Ice Cream at Gossner Foods

Capping off the tour with an ice cream cone

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Oats + Dairy = A Powerful Combination

GroupedCombining foods can help enhance flavors and boost nutrition. Think: bread + peanut butter, veggies + cheese, fruit + nuts. Each of these combinations pairs a carbohydrate-rich food with protein-rich food, a technique which not only tastes great, but also improves satiety and helps keep you satisfied longer.

Oats (carbohydrate-rich) + Dairy (protein-rich) is a powerhouse combination that delivers important nutrients often lacking in the typical American diet. In fact, only 15% of Americans meet the USDA recommendation for 3 daily servings of dairy, and many Americans are also falling short when it comes to whole grains. Just 1% of Americans meet the recommendation to consume whole grains for at least half of their total grains (recommendations vary based on age, gender, and size).

Understanding serving sizes can help:

  • 1 Serving of Dairy = 1 cup of milk or yogurt (8oz), 1.5 oz. of natural cheese, or 2 oz. of processed cheese (an ounce is about the size of your thumb)
  • 1 Serving of Whole Grains = 1 cup of whole grain cold cereal, ½ cup of cooked hot cereals such as oatmeal, 1 slice of 100% whole grain bread, or 1 oz. uncooked whole grain pasta or brown rice (about the size of your fist)

Why Pair Oats and Dairy?

Oats n Dairy

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Whole grain oats and dairy each have their own unique nutrient profile and provide certain essential nutrients. By pairing them, you fill in the nutrients the other is missing. For example, 1 cup of low-fat milk provides calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin B12, potassium, vitamin A, and protein. Oats provide iron, magnesium, fiber, and other B vitamins.  Oatmeal cooked with milk, instead of water, adds 9 essential nutrients and 2.5 times more protein. These nutrients are vital for maintaining a healthy body.

Oats + Milk = Protein + Fiber + 9 Key Nutrients

  • Protein for lean muscle
  • Fiber for digestive health
  • Iron for healthy blood cells
  • Calcium, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Magnesium for strong bones
  • Potassium for healthy blood pressure
  • Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 for energy metabolism
  • Vitamin A for eye and skin health

Why Eat Breakfast

Regular breakfast has been linked to weight control, improved nutrition, and better performance at school.  However, 1 in 5 Americans skip breakfast. Those who do eat breakfast often miss out on protein. Incorporating Dairy and Oats at breakfast provides protein, which can help curb mid-morning hunger and keep you satisfied and focused. Also, breakfasts that incorporate milk are associated with a higher intake of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, but not a higher intake of calories, fat, or added sugar. Enjoying oats or other whole grains at breakfast provides many important nutrients, including fiber, which is important for healthy digestion. Like protein, fiber also helps maintain satiety. Breakfast is too important to skip, so if you are short on time in the morning, check out some of the recipes below that can be made ahead of time.

Make Oats + Dairy part of your routine:

  • Make the switch – cook your oats with milk
  • Add oats to your smoothies
  • Top your yogurt with granola
  • Have a string cheese with you granola bar
  • Try the recipes below!

Make Ahead Recipe Idea: Overnight Oatmeal


  •  ¼ cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup fat-free milk
  • ¼ cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp. honey or other sweetener
  • ¼ cup applesauce or chopped dried apples
  • Pinch of cinnamon


In an 8 oz. (or larger) jar with a lid, combine all ingredients. Put lid on jar and shake until well combined. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. Eat chilled.

290 calories; 3.5g fat; 15g protein; 52g carbohydrates; 4g fiber.

Breakfast Recipes and Beyond

Pump Up The Day With The Powerful Combination Of Oats + Dairy 


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