Author, Mary Albers Felkins
To dairy or not to dairy. That’s the question. It’s one that’s been raised in greater frequency over recent years.
Increased health concerns associated with consumption of dairy has led to volumes of research by experts in the field of nutrition. These are objective men and women rather than those who represent the Dairy Council, M&M Mars company, or the USDA and might offer persuasive and slanted results.
A wide range of conclusions have been drawn from the findings of well-grounded researchers. Some conclude there’s no harm in consuming dairy, that cow’s milk, cheese and yogurt provide the body with an essential source of calcium. Others sound the alarm, stating that dairy contributes to health risk and calcium is best absorbed (more bioavailable) when obtained from plant-based foods such as kale, broccoli, beans and tofu.
Research has discovered that countries such as Africa and Asia consume far less dairy yet have lower rates of osteoporosis.
Our need for calcium ranges from 1000 to 1500 milligrams/day and can be adequately consumed with or without dairy. Weight-bearing exercise and adequate, regular sunshine for Vitamin D synthesis is another factor that increases bone density.
If you’re among those who suffer from lactose intolerance (along with a whopping 3/4th of the world’s population), experience digestive upset, stiffness in joints, or struggle with acne flare-ups, you may find relief when dairy is eliminated.
At the end of the day, to dairy or not to dairy is a question only you can answer for yourself.
With dairy-free in mind, I altered one of our family’s favorites and tweaked a few of the common ingredients. We loved the result of this Green Bean Casserole: An improvement on Tradition. As you find ways to celebrate the gift of Jesus this Christmas, set aside time to enjoy this crunchy creamy, savory, and healthful alternative.
Green Bean Casserole. An Improvement on Tradition.
½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Smart Balance vegetable spread or olive oil
1 cup button mushrooms, rinsed well and chopped
1 teaspoon sea (or table) salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (All purpose is fine, too)
¾ cup vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened, plain Almond milk
2 cans French cut green beans, drained (or cook ahead 1 pound fresh green beans -rinsed, trimmed and cut in half – in boiling water for 5 minutes)
1 ½ cup Crispy fried onions (use more or less, depending on how you like it)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat vegetable spread or olive oil and saute’ onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add mushrooms and simmer on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons flour over vegetables. Whisk to stir and coat. Cook for 1 minute then slowly whisk in veggie stock. If desired, add another tablespoon or two of flour and whisk thoroughly to thicken.
Slowly add almond milk. If needed, season with a dash more salt and pepper. Reduce heat, whisking several minutes until it reaches desired thickness.
Remove from heat and add ½ cup fried onions and all of the green beans. Toss to coat well.
Pour mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan. Top with remaining fried onions.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.
Mary Albers Felkins, Former Registered and Licensed Dietitian with Masters degree in nutrition
Author of inspirational romance, creator of happily ever afters
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