Fall is certainly in the air here in the northeast! I just love the sunshine reflecting on the colored trees, the cool breeze rustling leaves around (let’s forget about leave raking for a minute), and the fall harvest of crunchy apples and delicious varieties of squash. I’ve already baked some pumpkin bread, and have bought some Honey Crisp apples—my son’s favorite. 

With all these new fall foods out, I often get questions about what type of milk to choose to maintain a healthy diet. While the DASH Diet recommends 2-3 servings of lowfat dairy daily, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying whole milk or cooking with whole milk or cream; it’s all about balance, portion control and frequency.

Choosing lowfat milk on a more regular basis for drinking and cooking, though, provides all of the nutritional benefits of milk with less fat and calories. For instance, did you know that children who drink milk have a better diet quality than those who don’t? Children who drink milk also consume less sugary beverages.

With this in mind, whether you are planning fall parties for school-aged children, organizing a tailgate or are just planning to host a fall brunch, it’s easy to incorporate healthy snacks into the spread during the fall season.

  • Serve mini pumpkin muffins with a glass of milk at a school birthday or fall party.
  • Mix up a batch of buffalo chicken dip for your tailgate party or step it up a notch with an apple cider fondue!
  • Create a yogurt-based dip to serve with cut veggies.
  • Have fun with fall-themed cookie cutters and create cheese cutouts for your child’s lunchbox or for an afterschool snack. Simply slice your favorite hard cheese into a ⅛-inch slice. Use a small ghost, pumpkin or leaf cookie cutter to create fun shapes!
  • After school, traditional milk and cookies is a welcome treat. Pair a homemade pumpkin or apple cookie with an eight-ounce glass of lowfat milk for a treat your child will love.
  • Nothing is easier than a wine and cheese party! A cheese display also works well for a brunch spread. Simply gather up some pretty platters or cutting boards, and place a variety of cheeses on them. Have guests take a sliver. Serve with fresh grapes, sliced apples and pears. Or, check out these pairing ideas.

The secret to an enjoyable healthy diet is portion and variety. By pairing higher calorie foods, such as good cheese, with fruit you get to enjoy what you love, and still control calories and maintain health. Happy harvest!