University of Minnesota nutrition students Laura Wacker; Katie Flodquist, Nicole Beyer, Jessica Jacobsen and Katlin Schmitt started a challenge this semester to see if their classmates could fulfill their full calcium needs for a day with $22 and their run of the U’s surrounding fast food joints. Anyone familiar with the right-hand side of the McDonald’s menu can tell you that $22 is a pile of potential food and yet the group was rarely able to intake their recommended calcium levels through normal means.
Calcium is essential for bone formation and has been shown to reduce chances of osteoporosis in women as they age. At the same time, dairy products that contain the most calcium are also incredibly high in protein. Though some folks are concerned about the fat that milk packs as well, nearly everything cow-related can be found in low- or reduced-fat forms nowadays.
And of course, milk piles all of these nutrients into a relatively cheap package. You may pay $5 for a tub of Greek yogurt, but it will have as much protein as two servings of steak and that structure-strengthening calcium to boot.
If you are lactose intolerant, I am sorry — as a member of your ranks, I share your plight. However, most yogurts, hard cheeses and otherwise bacteria-transformed milk products have very low lactose levels, so if your roommates don’t mind a few unsavory breezes wafting through the living room, I’d say give it a shot.
That said, here are a few ways to build your bones and muscles without breaking your bank.
Greek yogurt, a million ways
Greek yogurt is a huge fad right now because it is amazing. Here are a few ways to make it even better.
1 cup Greek yogurt
Yep, the basics are that simple. A little something sweet mixed in to cut the acidity and something crunchy to balance the texture. For breakfast try mixing in a tablespoon of jelly, honey or Nutella into your grogurt, then topping with granola, cereal, chopped nuts, or frozen fruit. Sometimes I’ll mix in a teaspoon of Nutella and a teaspoon of peanut butter then top it off with Grape Nuts for a crunchy, Reese’s-esque breakfast. Another great option is the parfait — with layers of berries and granola.
For lunch I like to keep it a little more tart, mixing in a little fresh squeezed orange juice, apple juice or good ol’ peanut butter. Then you can top with chopped veggies (carrot is great with orange juice), fruit (apples or a crisp pear work great for texture) or even bits of breadcrumbs or fried tofu.
Finally, for dinner try mixing in a sweet white wine (like a Riesling) and topping with dried fruit, crumbled hard cheese and chopped nuts. It will feel all classy and French, but it will also fill you up beautifully.
Three cheeses and a starch
The addition of cheese to starch is classic and time-honored — from grilled cheese to French bread and brie to mac ‘n’ cheese. Here is an easy formula for two of the best homemade comforts you can find.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese
4 cups water
1/2 pound noodles
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup shredded Velveeta
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded smoked gouda
1 splash milk
Bring the water to a boil on high heat and add the salt. Pour in the noodles and cook until tender, approximately seven to 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, drain the noodles and return immediately to the pan without draining. Add the butter and cheeses, a little at a time, stirring until melted through. Throw in a splash of milk, stir thoroughly and serve.
2 slices bread
1/8 cup shredded Velveeta
1/8 cup shredded mozzarella
1/8 cup shredded smoked gouda
Butter the bread on both sides and fill with cheese in the middle. Heat a frying pan over medium-high and cook on both sides until the cheese is melted and bread toasted to satisfaction. The higher the heat, the blacker the bread when the cheese is fully cooked.
Variations (for both)
The cool part of these recipes is that any cheese will work. The trick, then, lies in the combination of cheeses that you use. The first cheese should be a creaminess inducer, thus the inclusion of an otherwise shady product such as Velveeta. Kraft American will work as well, and if you have a little extra spending dough then buttery cheeses like brie are amazing. The second cheese adds body and a solid foundation of flavor. Good choices here are fairly “rubbery” cheeses such as mozzarella, Colby jack or mild cheddar. Finally, the last cheese should be your beast, the flavor monster. Smoked gouda is great, as are other strong cheeses like sharp cheddar, Dubliner, Swiss, or even bleu. Experiment until you find your perfect combo.
My dad taught us that you don’t need anything for a great milkshake but a glass, a spoon and the right ingredients.
1 scoop ice cream
Scoop ice cream of choice into a glass and let sit until fairly soft. Then add the milk and stir.
The fun begins when you start replacing milk with other liquids. For instance, add a little coconut milk and pineapple juice and you have a tropical shake. Try apple juice with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice on caramel ice cream for a caramel apple shake. You can even pour a cup of iced tea over the ice cream for a crazy-looking and crazy-delicious treat.
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