8 Tips on Smarter Snacking for Kids

Yesterday wrapped up the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference – an amazing and overwhelming gathering of school nutrition professionals. The content of the meeting was awesome – ideas to inspire school-meal greatness. One particular subject addressed throughout meeting was snacking – specifically smarter snacking. Starting this year, snacks sold at school must meet specific guidelines to be considered a smart snack (Download the USDA Fact Sheet). Smart snacks include more nutrients per calorie, they emphasize whole grains and incorporate fruits and vegetables, and schools all over the nation have been working to change their snacks to fit these new guidelines.

USDA Smart Snacks Infographic

Healthy snacks are important to provide kids with the essential nutrients and energy they need. Not only are smart snacks important when your child is at school, but also at home. So here are 8 quick and easy tips to get you thinking smarter about snacking.  

  1. Make Snacking Fun.

    • Dip: My little two year old loves dipping. If we are having a tough time getting him to eat something, making it more fun with a dip sometimes yields success. Salsa, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, and hummus are all good options, and occasionally we even take a little fruit & veggie squeeze pack and squeeze some colorful yumminess onto sandwiches and other foods.
    • Fun Shapes: Instead of carrot sticks, try round carrot slices or long slices of banana instead of short round ones. Consider making banana sushi (recipe below) instead of a plan PB&J or PB& banana sandwich
  1. Have Smart Snacks Available.

    • When hunger hits, it’s easy to grab the first thing available in the pantry. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat the first thing in sight, whether it’s nutritious or not. Make it easy for your child to choose healthy snacks by making them readily available. Make fruits and veggies easily available. Create a snack drawer or a shelf on the pantry full of healthy options.
  2. Keep it balanced – carb + protein

    • A straight, carb-rich snack won’t keep that little tummy satisfied quite as long as a snack that packs a bit of protein. Pair graham crackers with some peanut butter or some pretzels with a cheese stick.
  3. Add color.

    • Be sure to have a mixture of different fruits and veggies available. The more colors you can offer your child the greater variety of nutrients.
    • Fruits and veggies don’t have to be fresh – freeze dried, traditional dried fruit, and frozen can be great options.

kids eating

  1. Have “on-the-go” options.

    • Life is busy and sometimes it is near impossible for your child take the time to sit down and eat a snack. Provide healthy on-the-go options by slicing up fruit and veggies and measuring out large bags into small snack size containers in advance. Purchase pre packaged snack size options like string cheese, individual yogurt containers, nuts, and whole grain crackers.
    • Shelf stable, single-serve milks are a great on-the-go protein source as are individual peanut butter packs.
  1. Grocery shop together.

    • When children help chose what they want, they are more likely to eat it. Makes since right? Go grocery shopping together and help your child to choose a variety of healthy, fun snacks.
  1. Provide proper portion sizes.

    • If a snack is too large it may end up taking the place of a meal. Use snack size bags and check portion sizes. Find ways to teach your child proper portions.
  1. Grab a healthy drink

    • Milk, chocolate milk, and juice are great options when time is limited. With more time you may try making a fruit smoothie. Blend milk or yogurt with your choice of fruit to make a fun tasty treat.

Kristi Spence & Kayli Cummings – Dairy Council Staff

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fresh Utah Peach Pie

Utah has wonderful peaches, and peak peach season is just about a month away. In anticipation, we caught up with Shanna Gibbons – dairy farmer, master gardener, master canner, wonderful cook, artist, and mom-extradionaire who shared one of her favorite summer recipes with us. The pie crust is a family tradition – the fool-proof recipe is from her mother-in-law, and the pie can be adjusted to suit a variety of fresh summer fruit. We have included classic peach as well as a strawberry variation. Enjoy!

Fresh Peach Pie

Ingredients – Peach Pie:

  • 1 baked pie crust
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pkg unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup peaches, finely cut
  • 4-5 cups fresh peaches, sliced

Ingredients – Pie Crust:

Note: Makes 6-7 crusts. Can be halved.

  • 6 cups flour, not too rounded
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 lb lard
  • 1 egg
  • ~3/4 cup milk
traditional pie crust

Fresh, flaky crust


  1. For the Crust: Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.  Add lard. Beat egg in measuring cup and add just enough milk to bring the measurement to 1 cup. Mix to form a dough. Spread into pie plate, poke with holes, cover with parchment and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake ~15 minutes, remove weights and parchment and continue cooking until slightly golden ~10 minutes more.
  2. For the Filling: Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Place in microwave for about 30 seconds – this willl help with spreading. Spread over bottom of cooled pie shell. Mix water, sugar, lemon juice, gelatin, cornstarch and 1/2 cup peaches. Cook on stove until clear and thick. Cool for a few minutes, then add 4-5 cups fresh peaches. Stir and pour into prepared pie shell. Top with fresh whipped cream.

Variation: This recipe is easily adjusted to make fresh strawberry pie.

For Fresh Strawberry Pie: Mix and cook 1 box of Danish dessert according to recipe on box. Cool. Add fresh strawberries and poor into pie shell. Enjoy with fresh whipped cream.

The Gibbons Family
Shanna Gibbons and her husband, Mark, are third generation dairy farmers in northern Utah. Raising their 3 sons on the farm and now sharing their farm and livlihood with their daughters-in-law and 11 beautiful grandchildren has been a true blessing. Active members of the industry and their community, Mark is currently the Utah State Director of the Farm Service Agency and USDA and Shanna is on the State Dairy Women’s Board. Shanna and her family believe that good nutrition comes from the farm.

Leave a comment

Filed under Farmer Profile, Recipes

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft sour cream sugar cookies

Ready to take on inspiration

Looking for a fun, yummy treat this holiday weekend? Dairy Farmer, Taunya Otten loves to bake, and she shared this recipe for “make your own sugar cookie pizzas” with us.



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 1/2cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese (regular or Neufchatel)
  • About 1 ½ lbs confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, if needed


  • Various fruits like mandarin oranges, banana slices, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pineapple, coconut, etc. Use your imagination!


STEP 1: Mix

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add sour cream and extracts; mix well. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll.


STEP 2 – Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350°. On a well-floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. (Note: If the dough is sticky, add more flour until it is soft and workable.) Cut with a round floured 3-in. cookie cutter. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Rolling the dough

Rolling the dough

Cooling soft sour cream sugar cookies

Cooling cookies

STEP 3: Frosting

  • For frosting, in a bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and extracts. Add enough confectioners’ sugar, to make the consistency of frosting you like. If it is too stiff, add enough milk to reach desired consistency. Spread over cookies.

Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.

STEP 4: Be creative!

To make pizzas, put out bowls of the fruits and let everyone use a frosted cookie to make their own “combination fruit pizza” using whatever fruits they like!

Decorating sugar cookies with fruit

Have fun with fruit combos and designs

Taunya Otten and her husband, Russell, were both raised on small dairy farms in Sanpete County, Utah, and now they are raising their 6 children on a large, modern dairy farm in Clarion, Utah. Taunya’s hobbies include cows, traveling, baking bread and cookies, and driving her kids into town and back to the farm. Even though dairy farming has changed over her lifetime, Taunya still believes it is ALL ABOUT THE COWS!

Visit the farm on Instagram: @Barexdairyfamily

Note about the recipe: Sugar Cookie recipe originally published as Sour Cream Cutout Cookies in Taste of Home June/July 1994 but I have modified this recipe to fit my family’s tastes!

1 Comment

Filed under Farmer Profile, Recipes

What Happens When you Visit a Dairy Farm?

You may be surprised…

Q: Did anything surprise you about this experience?

Pleasantly surprised that we got such a close view of operations.”

“We have dairy farming in Utah!?”

“How nice the farmers were.”

How open, honest, and complete the tour was.”

Dairy Days Farm Tour Participants

Dairy Days Farm Tour - talking to farmers

Dairy Days Farm Tour – Talking to farmers

Last week as part of Thanksgiving Point’s annual Dairy Days, Utah dairy farmers sponsored free dairy farm tours.  Interested families signed up in advance and within just a couple days, we were quite surprised to find our 2 bus tours booked to capacity with a waiting list. We LOVE that people want to get out to the farm, meet farmers, pet cows, and learn more about how the journey milk takes to get to their fridge.

Dairy Days Farm Tour

Boarding the bus – let the fun begin!

Though we faced triple digit heat, it was a great day. A packed bus left the festivities of Thanksgiving Point and took families to Utah’s largest dairy farm. Currently milking 7,100 dairy cows, tour participants had the chance to meet farmers (4 brothers and their father), tour the milk barn, say hi to the milk truck driver, sit on a tractor, pet baby calves, see what the cows eat and where they live, and ask questions.

Dairy Days Farm Tour - Milk Barn

Watching the cows be milked

Dairy Days - what cows eat

Examining what cows eat

Dairy days farm tour - baby calf

Petting baby calves

Giving people an opportunity to see a working dairy farm is important to us. One tour participant shared that she had been looking for ways to introduce her kiddos to farming and explain how we get food. Our sentiments exactly! We will continue offering these tours for groups and the general public. Thanks for the support.

Q: What was your key take away from this experience?

“Cows really are important to communities.”

“My 5-year-old was the reason we came, and he absolutely loved it and wanted to learn more.”

“Our milk is good”

“I am more confident”

“The farmers and workers take good care of their cows – dairy farming is a complex operation and business. This was outstanding.”

– Dairy Days Farm Tour Participants

Dairy Days Farm Tour

Leave a comment

Filed under Community Events, Events, Farm Events, On Farm Education

2015 Dairy Days

Our annual Day on the Farm event adds a bit of a twist this year. We have partnered with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to bring you Dairy Days at Thanksgiving Point FREE! Domino’s Pizza will support the event with free pizza (11am – 2pm while supplies last), and we will offer two dairy farm tours (10:30 and 1:30). Sign up for a farm tour in advance to guarantee your spot!

Dairy Days 2015

Dairy Days is designed to be a fun, family event that gives local kids and their parents the chance to learn more about agriculture. Come play cow pie bingo, make ice cream, ride a pony or hop in the cow train. Be sure to enjoy a slice of Domino’s pizza and learn a bit more about their commitment to local farmers and Delivering Dairy Goodness.

Dairy Days promises to be a great day for all – hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 27th 10am – 4pm

Leave a comment

Filed under Community Events, Events, Farm Events, On Farm Education

Quick, Easy Hawaiian Egg Casserole

Becky Low shares another family food tradition…this one from our own Jenn Harrison and her family. It’s quick, easy, and sure to please a crowd.

breakfast egg casserole

Quick & Easy Breakfast Casserole

Summer in Utah means sleep-overs, sleep-outs, and sleep-ins. With our State and National holidays, we have lots of family reunions, class reunions and gatherings – and we hate to spend time away from the group to cook. And so we share this Hawaiian Egg Casserole, a 4th generation family tradition.

What makes a fast recipe?

In my book, a fast recipe must meet these criteria:

  1. Familiar
  2. Favorite / comfort food
  3. Simple (few ingredients or little prep)
  4. make ahead – not essential, but a nice bonus!

For Jenn, these criteria are crucial. Unlike me, Jenn isn’t so fond of cooking.  If a recipe has too many ingredients or too many instructions, she tosses it. With her hectic lifestyle, she wants something simple and fast. This recipe does the trick and, it’s been a family staple for generations. Passed on from her grandmother, Dorothy Ecker to her mother, Sue North to she and her sisters, Jenn is almost ready to pass it on to her own daughters. It is one that will endure.

Jenn Sue Dorothy Kennadee

How Fast is it?

Perhaps the reason Jenn shared this recipe, the reason it is an enduring part of her culinary repertoire, is that it meets her criteria. Having had it since she can remember, Jenn is familiar with it, and she likes it. It also has very few ingredients and almost no prep-work – canned soups and pre-cooked bacon (from Costco).  Once you have hard boiled the eggs (which you can do in advance), the whole recipe goes together in just 5 minutes. Then pop in the oven and bake.


During the summer, not everyone gets up at the same time, or you may want a little special twist to it…this recipe can accommodate:

Avoid leftovers, by prepping the recipe in ramekins, then bake on demand and save the others. Uncooked casserole will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Egg casseroles are typically breakfast fare, but this recipe is an easy, weeknight protein-packed dinner.

Pair with other things: Jenn’s family loves to serve this egg casserole with ham and pineapple.


  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 cups cooked, crumbled bacon or cooked sausage
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans cream of potato soup
  • milk ~1 1/3 cup
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind you like
  • ham slices (optional)
  • pineapple slices (optional)
  • sliced green onions (optional)


Note: Recipe may be prepared ahead and stored in refrigerator overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 9×13 pan, or 12, 1-cup ramekins. Line ramekins with 3-4 thin slices of optional ham.

Eggs and bacon should be cooked ahead; dice and place in mixing bowl. Add cream of chicken and cream of potato soups. Fill one soup can with milk and add to bowl. Gently stir ingredients to mix. Note – additional milk may be added if you prefer a thinner consistency. Place casserole in prepared 9×13 baking dish or individual 1-cup ramekins and cover with foil.

Bake until hot and bubbly: 50-60 minutes for 9×13 pan; 35-40 minutes for 1-cup ramekins. For a browned top, remove foil at least partway through baking time.

Garnish with optional sliced green onions; serve with pineapple slices. If casserole was baked in a 9×13 pan serve with a slice of ham.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Uncategorized

Chocolate Milk for Athletes: why? and how?

The 2014/2015 Utah high school chocolate milk numbers are in, and they are pretty cool…

48% Utah schools participated in the replenish grant program & consumed…

28,753 gallons of milk 

(That’s 230,020 pints)

Participating schools earned 60% of state athletic titles

Bus SP

How’s it work?

The Dairy Farmers of Utah offer grant money to Utah high schools to be used for chocolate milk. For the 2014/2015 school year, farmers donated almost $175,000 to the program. So why do farmers do it?  Tasting is believing. It’s one thing to read the science about the importance of milk or the benefits of chocolate milk, but having direct access to the product is extremely beneficial. “There’s nothing like a cold pint of chocolate milk after a tough wrestling match,” says dairy farmer and past Utah Ute wrestler, Jeff Hardy. “When students can taste the product and then see the results, we’ve made a real difference.” Utah’s dairy farmers want high school athletes to have access to chocolate milk throughout the school year AND at championship events. So they have instituted two programs to make that happen.

The Replenish Grant is a yearly opportunity open to ALL Utah High schools. Just 48% of high schools participated last year, and yet 60% of the state athletic titles went to that 48%. Over half of Utah high schools have yet to tap into the opportunity and reap the benefits. In August, check our website for application information.

As the baseball team got on the bus after the state championship game, I was met with cheers!! Had a cooler full of Tru Moo waiting for them.  Could not have ended better.

– Becky Ottesen, Spanish Fork High

Spanish Fork Bus Chocolate milk

On the Bus…Three Cheers for Chocolate Milk!

For three years, the Dairy Council of UT/NV has partnered with the Utah High School Activities Association and the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association on our Refuel Program to make chocolate milk THE official beverage of high school sports in our region.  We know that chocolate milk is an ideal recovery beverage following activity, and this program is one more way to give athletes free access. Here’s why it’s important: Chocolate milk’s nutrient profile does 3 essential things for athletes after exercise:

Utah Refuel Baseball

Refueling – Baseball


Replacing lost fluid after a workout is key to recovery. At 90% water, milk not only delivers needed fluid but so much more


Activity takes energy (carbs), and milk naturally contains replenishing carbohydrate in the form of lactose. Chocolate delivers a small amount of added sugar, which is ideal for a recovering body. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly to replenish energy stores.


Hard exercise damages muscle tissue, and protein builds it back up. Getting protein within 30-60 minutes following a workout can reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery.

This grant was fantastic for Roy High School.  To be able to give kids that little extra after a hard workout or after playing a game was an absolute blessing.  We used it among all the sports, but I really feel that it was very helpful in the success of the football team to win 12 games in a row and 12 games in a season for the first time in the 50 year history of the school.

– Fred Fernandes, Roy High

weightroom refuel

Post Workout Recovery

Farmers will continue to offer both of these opportunities for the 2015/2016 school year, and we look forward to boosting our participation well above the 50% mark.

Leave a comment

Filed under Human Nutrition, Schools