California Dairy Delicious



I received a gift card to offset the expense of my ingredients. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Don’t tell Mom! Has your family ever pulled that one?  S0me of the best stories actually start like this. Like the time I was enjoying a meal at a local restaurant and never realized I was sitting next to funny man Danny McBride. Ok, so I was focused on the food; and for good reason.  I was enjoying the world’s most luscious lime ice cream!  And ever since that night, it’s been my life’s goal to recreate something as delectable.

Finally, I believe I have  realized my aspiration. I have thought long and hard about the best time to roll this one out, and the time is right, because this week the Recipe Redux is showing you how easy it is to enjoy the taste of eating right when you include California dairy products. The California Milk  Advisory Board (which represents over 1500 dairy families) and their nutrition partner, the Dairy Council of California, is celebrating “dairy good”.  Dairy plays a vital role in contributing to an overall healthy diet and we want to encourage everyone to adopt  healthy eating habits that include dairy!

Enjoying California dairy foods with meals is a delicious and inexpensive way to meet daily protein needs necessary for maintaining or increasing skeletal muscle mass, and improving body composition (increasing skeletal muscle and decreasing body fat). Dairy with meals helps meet the requirements for important nutrients many Americans are lacking: calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Given the multiple benefits of dairy, it should not surprise you, the recommendations are for 3 servings daily. You can read more about the health benefits of dairy at and about the higher nutritional standards in milk/dairy produced in California at

Real California milk and dairy products are sold nationwide and can be identified with the Real California Milk or Real California Cheese seals on packaging.


Today I ‘m thrilled to  show you how easy it is to to lighten up one of my  favorite dairy desserts (the cannoli) with real California dairy. Easy as in, it  takes 20 minutes to make (30 minutes to chill)  and it’s no cook. Traditionally, this Italian dessert is made with a pastry shell (often fried) that’s stuffed with a mouse like filling (usually made with ricotta cheese, heavy cream, and sugar). A light version can be made by simply swapping full fat ricotta cheese for California reduced fat ricotta cheese and eliminating the fried shell. Oh, and  about the lime ice cream that had me ‘ice cream absorbed’ and was this recipe’s inspiration; I’m drizzling the ricotta mouse with a fresh lime sauce and serving it  ’inside out’ with crisp wafer cookies. Please note: YOU can lighten up any dairy recipe by substituting all or half of the full fat dairy ingredient with  a reduced fat or fat free dairy ingredient. This WILL MAINTAIN THE  NUTRITIONAL PROFILE AND BENEFITS of DAIRY  (without the fat)Note: using dairy alternatives or substitutes  will not deliver the same nutrients found in dairy.

California dairy products are both nutritious and delicious on their own, and can be used as  ingredients in a myraid of recipes, from sweet to savory. Please check out the bottom of this post for more light California dairy delicious ideas!

What dairy recipe will you lighten up with California dairy?


Inside Out Cannoli with a Twist of Lime (serves 4)

by Diane Boyd


  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup California heavy cream
  • 1 cup California reduced fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • finely grated zest of 1/2 lime
  • chopped pistachios, for topping
  • plain crisp wafer cookies, for serving


1. Stir fresh lime juice into sweetened condensed milk and set aside.

2. Combine ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, and lime zest in a large bowl and beat with an elcetric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

3. Pour heavy cream into another bowl and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. (Test the stiffness by pulling a beater out of the cream. The whipped cream should hold its shape and cling to the beater.)

4. Fold one third of the whipped cream into ricotta mixture with a rubber spatula until combined and uniform. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream.

5. Spread half of the ricotta mousse into a pie plate or loaf pan. Drizzle with half of the lime sauce. Repeat with remaining ricotta mousse and lime sauce. Chill, uncovered 30 minutes or up to overnight.

6. Spoon ricotta mousse mixture into cups or bowls and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve with crisp wafer cookies on the side.

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Meyer Lemon Pudding with Graham Crackers and Sea Salt


IMG_8024IMG_8019IMG_8028IMG_8028IMG_8019IMG_8019IMG_8019IMG_8019I received a gift card to offset the expense of my ingredients. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I’m renaming this month Milk Madness. Now that  the winter championship seasons are here, and nothing less than men’s basketball is discussed at water coolers nationwide, I ‘m taking a break from ‘bracketology’. Like every other March, National Nutrition Month is my March Madness. The theme, Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right, is something the Recipe Redux members focus on all year long In support of National Nutrition Month, we are  joining the California Milk Advisory Board (which represents over 1500 dairy families) and their nutrition partner, the Dairy Council of California, in celebrating “dairy good”.  Dairy plays a vital role in contributing to an overall healthy diet and we want to encourage everyone to adopt  healthy eating habits that include dairy! So the Recipe Reduxers will be showcasing how easy it is to enjoy the taste of eating right with Real California Dairy by lightening up our favorite dairy recipes and rolling them out all week!

This March, don’t change your team, but please e-x-p-a-n-d  your focus to include making healthier food choices for better overall health and wellness.  Aside from great taste and good bone health, there are lots of reasons to include 3 servings of dairy everyday, including a positive effect on immunity levels, weight control, and blood pressure. You can read more about the health benefits of dairy at and about the higher nutritional standards in milk/dairy produced in California at Because I’m a fitness enthusiast, I’m focusing on the benefits of dairy for athletes and active individuals. Milk is a source of nine essential nutrients: calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium, vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin, Niacin and Phosphorus. The essential nutrients in milk can help  to refuel your muscles with carbohydrates, restore energy levels, rehydrate, reduce muscle breakdown, stimulate muscle protein synthesis and over time improve lean body mass.

  It’s not complicated, faster is better  protein is an essential component of a sports nutrition training program. The power of protein includes its ability to maximize training gains!  The protein naturally found in milk and dairy foods is a  complete protein. If you want to take advantage of the  interaction between training and protein, you’ll want to comsume  protein  immediately after workouts, and at meals. Optimally, meals should provide  30 grams of high quality protein.

Milk is a staple in my house. Besides enjoying a glass of cold milk  I also include it in my skinny lattes, smoothies and delicious dairy desserts.  So how do desserts fit into healthy lifestyle? I guess I should tell you, my one suggestion for eating healthier: eat what you like! I know, it might sound counter intuitive, but if you’re satisfied, you’ll find it takes much less food to feel you’ve had enough. If  your food preferences are too high in fat, calories, salt, and/or sugar, have a small portion or make a lighter version of the food,  like I did.  I’ve recreated a lemon pudding that satisfies my craving for lemon cream. I came up with a smooth and creamy dessert that’s a fraction of the calories and fat of lemon cream,  yet higher in protein and the eight other essential nutrients provided by milk. Here’s how you too can lighten up your dairy recipes:

1. Start with fresh ingredients because they have the BEST flavor.

2. Use reduced fat or fat free dairy for a portion of the full fat version when possible.

Please join me in an active lifestlye that includes California Dairy in your daily lineup. Be sure check the links at the bottom of this post for more ways to enjoy the taste of eating right with Real California Dairy!

What favorite dairy recipe will you lighten up this month?




Meyer Lemon Pudding with Graham Crackers and Sea Salt

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated Meyer or regular lemon zest
  • 2 level tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 2oz. California skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon California unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh Meyer or regular lemon juice
  • 4 graham cracker squares, crumbled
  • Flaky sea salt, (such as Maldon)


1. Place skim milk in a microwave safe measuring cup and heat just long enought to warm the milk. (This will reduce cooking time).

2. In a medium saucepan, combine eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and cornstach. Beat with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

3. Place the pan over medium-low to medium heat and gently whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture.

4.  Take your time and continue to whisk during the cooking time until the mixture comes to a full boil and thickens. (Takes about 15 to 20 minutes)

5. Boil for one minute then remove from heat.

6. Stir in butter and lemon juice.

7. Allow to cool completely, for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

7. To serve, layer lemon pudding and graham crackers in small glasses or bowls, finishing with graham crackers. Top with lemon zest and sea salt.

Do Ahead: pudding can be made 3 days ahead. Store in refrigerator.

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Romancing the ‘Whole Diet’ Approach for Heart Health


In honor of heart month I am happily sharing some of my favorite heart-healthy foods. As a registered dietitian, my primary focus is on nutritious foods, and I sincerely believe food is meant to be a pleasurable experience! Much of my professional time is spent helping individuals find foods they SAVOR that will also help them meet their health and fitness goals. It is far easier to embrace a lifestyle that you enjoy!

The meal I am sharing is a perfect example! There are three reasons why I relish this meal. First of all, it’s centered around foods that are heart-healthy, not just designed to eliminate those that are not. Secondly it has taste appeal! This meal will delight your taste buds and open your heart to some old and possibly new foods and/or flavors.  Finally, it’s a healthy model for nearly everyone with benefits that extend far beyond your ticker! So take heart, this mouth watering meal promotes well being for the entire family!

As you would expect, this meal is low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol, and low in salt/sodium. But equally important to what is excluded, is what’s included! As a matter of fact, a recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine, conclude that the ‘whole diet’ approach has more evidence of reducing cardiovascular risk than strategies that focus exclusively on reduced dietary fat.1 So please take note- this meal contains substances that are cardio-protective including: healthy fats, fiber, phytonutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids.

My taste for scrumptious food and my affection for good nutrition collide in the this heart -healthy meal consisting of 3 dishes:

1. Main Dish: Medjool Date & Nut Stuffed Chicken.

2.  Side Dish: Brown Rice  &Pumpkin Risotto

3. Salad: Spring Mix & Spinach Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette.

1. Medjool date and nut stuffed chicken. Starting with a very lean protein source, this dish gets a boost of flavor with sweet delicious medjool dates, fresh parsely and a bit of crunchy nuttiness from walnuts. Extra virgin olive oil, a heart healthy, monounsaturated fat, is used for sauteing the stuffing mixture and brushing chicken.  The dish is finished with Za’atar, a Mediterranean spice blend, eliminating the need for additional salt and adding woody and nutty accents. This dish is baked, keeping both the calories and fat to a minimum.

Mejool Date & Nut Stuffed Chicken

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + more for brushing chicken
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsely
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon za’atar


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add dates, bread crumbs, nuts and parsely to the onions and stir to combine. Set aside.

3 Pound chicken to a ¼ inch thickness. Spread with onion nut mixture and roll up tightly. Secure with toothpicks.

4. Brush each chicken breast with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.

5. Place chicken breasts in shallow baking dish. Add wine.

6. Bake for 45-50 minutes until chicken is browned and juices run clear. Remove toothpicks .

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2. Brown Rice & Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin makes this risotto creamy without the addition of butter or full fat cheese that are traditionally used to make risotto. Thyme, lemon juice and lemon zest add a bit of tang and eliminate the need for salt or higher sodium broth. Pumpkin and brown rice contribute fiber and phytonutrients to the dish.

Brown Rice & Pumpkin Risotto

by Diane Boyd


  • 1-Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1-cup brown rice, short grain
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock(use Pacific Natural Foods Free Range Broth for Gluten Free)
  • 1 /4- teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley


1.In a medium saucepan, heat oil and gently cook onions until softened, about 8 minutes.

2. Add rice and heat until fragrant, stirring often to prevent scorching.

3. Add pumpkin, broth, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and cook for 45 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking as needed.

4. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley. Fluff with a fork to combine

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3. Spring Mix & Spinach Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette. A salad made with dark leafy greens is one of the foods you can eat regularly to improve your health.  Spinach and red leaf lettuce are brimming with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (plant based substances that may protect you from not only cardiovascular disease, but diabetes and some cancers). Celery and apples add crunch. The tartness of the fresh lemon vinaigrette pairs well with the sweetness of the fresh and dried fruit. Its’ citrus notes are also a nice complement to the za’atar used on the chicken, helping to not only enhance but unify the taste experience.

Spring Mix & Spinach Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette

by Diane Boyd


    for the salad

    • 4 cups spring mix
    • 4 cups baby spinach
    • 1 stalk celery, sliced
    • 1 Pink Lady apple, quatered and chopped
    • 1-2 Tablespoons craisins

    for the lemon vinaigrette

    • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon Juice
    • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon water
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Monk Fruit in the Raw
    • ¼ cup sliced shallots
    • 2 Tablespoons Canola oil


    for the vinaigrette

    In a small bowl combine lemon juice, vinegar, water, salt, sugar and monk fruit. Whisk in shallots and canola oil.

    for the salad

    Arrange salad greens in large bowl. Top with craisins, sliced celery and chopped apple slices. Pour lemon vinaigrette over top and toss gently. Serve immediately.

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    I had no idea

    I support a ban to eliminate poor self-esteem in young girls.

    Did you know that:

    • girls as young as 6 and 7 are struggling with body image?

    • 80% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat?

    • by middle school, 40-70 % of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body?

    If you answered the above questions with, I had no idea, you’ll understand why it’s an appropriate  2014 theme for  National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb 23-March 1). Sadly, indiviudals suffering from poor self-esteem and body image often resort to unhealthy tactics to ‘improve’ their appearance.  Believe it or not, dieting is one of these unhealthy measures and is often a  trigger for an eating disorder. Thirty-five percent of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting,  and of those, 25% progress to partial or full syndrome eating disorders.1

    More bad news on dieting: young girls who dieted had three times the odds or being overweight five years later compared with girls not using weight control behaviors.2

    Is there really a campaign to help girls understand their value comes from character,  skills, intelligence, kindness.. and not appearance?

    Yes, and Mayor Bloomberg’s office is rolling it out – the NYC Girls Project. Images like the one here will brighten up buses, subways, and phone kiosks.


    What do you think about the Mayor’s most recent ban? 

    1 Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S. (1995). The Spectrum of Eating Disturbances. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18 (3): 209-219.

    2 Neumarksztainer, D., M. Wall, J. Guo, M. Story, J. Haines, and M. Eisenberg. “Obesity, Disordered Eating, and Eating Disorders in a Longitudinal Study of Adolescents: How Do Dieters Fare 5 Years Later?” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 106.4 (2006): 559-68. Print.


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    Recipe Redux: A Healthier Drink


    Much of February’s news has been trumped by stories of the weather. I won’t bore you with my weather woe’s, but let me say, I do hope you’re feeling comfy and warm by now! Speaking of warm,  beverages are hot (as in swanky)! Yep, and this month’s Recipe Redux is right on top of the trend, showcasing a healthier drink…

    Today I can’t seem to get  peptides and amino acids out of my head! No, not literally… it’s just that I have been immersed in studies on protein while putting together a PowerPoint, on the subject to present next month at the North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association. Consequently, my mind’s preoccupation is influencing the beverage I’m posting;  high protein cappuccino, anyone?

    This coffee house staple actually dates back to the 17th century, when a Franciscan monk  invented the drink and named it after his order, Capuccini. The combination of espresso, steamed milk and foam are a winning combination and make for what I call a very cozy drink. (Something that should be sipped while culred up in a chair with a good book!)  This one is made with strong coffee, skim milk, and some whey protein.

    The reason for the coffee instead of espresso is simply because I lack have enough  cooking paraphernalia, just not an espresso machine. But the addition of protein is 100% intentional. Let me explain. You see, in America, our protein intake is skewed. We tpycially skimp on protein at breakfast, eat a little more a lunch, and then overload at dinner. A rule of thumb for healthy individuals is to distribute protein throughtout the day and consume 20 – 30 grams of protein at  each meal- breakfast, lunch and dinner. So if your protein intake is a little shy of the 20-30 grams recommended, and you agree that caffeine is a decent drug, enjoy this hot cuppa and  meet your needs for maximum protein synethsis!

    Please check out the links at the bottom of this post for more ways to rethink your drink!


    High Protein Cappuccino

    by Diane Boyd

    Ingredients (one serving)

    • 1 cup double strength coffee
    • 1/2 cup skim milk
    • 2Tablespoons whey protein
    • cinnamon


    Pour strong coffee into a favorite mug. Add skim milk to a frother and process until foamy. Holding back the foam, pour off milk into a separate container and mix with whey protein ; stir well to combine. Add protein milk mixture to coffee  and top with  frothy milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!

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