Milk is on my mind at the moment, because: 1) the fall edition my Little Lettice newsletter focuses on milk, and 2) I just signed up with a raw milk buying club where milk straight from pasture-fed dairies around Boston is delivered to a pick up point near my home. Here’s a primer on milk and ways to incorporate it into food for the family.
Why milk is good for kids
Milk is a good source of calcium and of protein. Research has shown that children aged between 2 and 8 years who consumed more calcium actually had overall lower body fat than those who consumed less of this mineral. Calcium also appears to help prevent cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, kidney stones, and hypertension.
At what age can cow’s milk be introduced to my baby?
When the child is about 12 months old.
Why is it that babies can have cheese and dairy around 7 - 9 months, but not milk until 12 months?
Pediatricians recommend waiting until 12 months because cow’s milk contains low amounts of iron. Also, many infants have trouble digesting milk before this time because the blend of cow milk protein is not ideal.
What other sources of calcium are out there apart from milk?
Leafy greens such as kale, kohlrabi, and broccoli contain calcium. Our bodies absorb the calcium from leafy greens at a higher rate than they absorb calcium from milk. But because there is so much less calcium in the leafy greens to start with, we would have to eat 3 servings of kale to 1 serving of milk to absorb the same amount of calcium.
But don’t rely on milk only for your child’s nutrients
Don’t let too much milk (more than 3 servings per day) prevent your child from eating a nutritionally varied diet.
Recipes that contain milk
If your child is like my son Nick, who doesn’t drink milk, I have some alternative ways to work milk into his diet. And he loves them all, which proves my theory that children’s bodies crave what they lack in their diets!
Creamy Rice Pudding
Don’t worry if it seems as if there is a teeny bit of rice drowning in a sea of milk. It gets absorbed in the end and the slower you cook it for, the creamier it becomes!
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a deep ovenproof dish. Wash rice and place in the bottom of the dish. Add milk & cream. Stir in the sugar.
2. Bake in oven for 2-3 hours, stirring every ½ hour or so. Sprinkle with cinnamon and allow to cool down a bit.
3. Serve with a fruit counterpart such as a bit of strawberry jelly, a handful of frozen blueberries, honey, applesauce, or sliced banana.
Brown Rice Pudding with Maple Syrup
Unlike above, this recipe calls for cooked rice so it’s a good way to use up leftover rice. The nutty taste of the brown rice and maple syrup give this rice pudding a distinctive flavor. Brown rice is really healthy too!
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. Combine rice with milk and salt in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer, stirring until mixture thickens. Add syrup, vanilla, and raisins.
3. Butter oven dish. Put rice mixture in dish and drizzle cream over the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake until cream is bubbly and browned (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool; serve warm.
Semolina Milk Pudding
My kids love semolina, which is a coarse kind of cream of wheat. We don’t add sugar in the saucepan but drizzle honey, jelly, or golden syrup on top when we serve it in the bowl.
I buy my semolina in bulk from my local Armenian store in Watertown.
Ingredients (makes 1 serving):
Place semolina and milk in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring all the time. Semolina will thicken in the milk to an oatmeal-like consistency. Serve with honey, syrup or jelly stirred in.
Fresh Fruit Smoothies
Makes 2 glasses
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
CLICK HERE for a printable PDF of the recipes.
Image credit: Seed to Plate