#DairyAmazing Symposium 2017: Healthy Conversation, Delicious Dishes

By Sara Robbins, RDN on 12/20/2017

Tags: Nutrition, MyPlate, Research, Diet

Health professionals, educators and consumers are all increasingly removed from the farm. Learning more about where our food comes from is an important part of teaching our clients about a healthy diet. Knowing what to do once you’ve brought that fresh food into the kitchen is another key piece of the puzzle. That’s exactly why we host the #DairyAmazing Symposium.

Mix and Mingle from Doctors to Bloggers to Farmers

This year, we invited health professionals including physicians from different areas of practice including pediatrics, cardiology and women’s health as well as dietitians from several settings including retail, food banks and academia. This is the first year we’ve invited health and wellness bloggers to join us. Having the right mix of people in the room adds to the experience for everyone. The networking along with the sessions add a lot to the conference.

“The speakers and the people attending were fabulous,” said Pilar Hernandez, blogger and cookbook author. “The whole event was flawless. I truly enjoyed my time there. I'm even modifying my diet because of all I learned; I never considered the protein-packed wonders that milk, cheese and yogurt are.”

One of the greatest highlights for attendees was spending time with local dairy farmer Frank Volleman, from Wildcat Dairy.

“Frank Volleman was awesome,” said Cindy Kleckner, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Dairy MAX Health and Wellness Advisory Council member, attending the symposium for the third year in a row. “Seeing his farm and hearing his story was so helpful to making a connection. The information will certainly be put to good use with my clients and students.”

Kleckner was particularly impressed by Volleman’s virtual dairy farm tour done with drone technology. She felt like she was transported to the dairy that evening. Volleman was a wealth of knowledge when it came to dairy farming and sustainability. For many in the room, his personal stories about generations of quality care for the animals and the land resonated strongly.

“Frank Volleman and his family made it clear that they are passionate about the welfare of their cows,” said Julia Jarrell, RD, LD, from Houston Independent School District. “They are more than a part of his business, they are curious creatures with big personalities, and their well-being is important. Dairy farmers spend a lot of time on cow comfort (i.e. bedding, cooling systems) and it really shows how much they care. I love being able to confidently address consumer concerns. Healthy cows deliver a nutritious product!”

Updates on the Science of Dairy Nutrition and Taste

The farm was only the first piece. The rest of the symposium offered a deep-dive into the science behind the health benefits of dairy, the science behind taste and how healthy cooking techniques with the right ingredients could benefit all our clients. Each year, Dairy MAX has held the symposium at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio. Thanks to teaching kitchens, demo spaces and world-class culinary instructors, our attendees can take what they learn and immediately apply it in the kitchen.

“This is just what physicians need: education about how food can be medicine,” said Hector Ceccoli, MD, Cardiovascular Associates of East Texas. “I can’t wait to put what I learned here into practice with my patients. Thank you for everything. It was a great conference.”

Ceccoli was impressed by the quality of speakers and the range of topics, including nutrition communication, dairy’s health benefits and new ways to incorporate dairy in the diet. Our first day’s session highlights included hot topics like nutrition facts versus fake news, how the brain influences our taste preferences, and how to add more nutrients into your favorite dishes.

Cooking Up Delicious Dairy Dishes

Putting all that nutrition education into practice was the focus of the second day. First, Amy Myrdal-Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, shared all her tips for incorporating dairy into the diet. Then the remainder of the day was spent in hands-on sessions practicing food photography and knife skills, and preparing recipes based on key dairy facts learned at the event – recipes which ultimately became lunch for everyone.

Enjoying the Day

Attendees shared the event over social media, posting pictures and stories of their #DairyAmazing discoveries. As it all wrapped up, many of our guests shared how much they enjoyed the event.

“Thank you so much for the invitation! I loved getting to cook with dairy in so many versatile ways,” said Marcie Garza, MS, RDN, LD, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. “I'm definitely bringing some savory dairy dishes back to campus – specifically that White Queso Dip recipe! I also want to commend the planning team for finding a way to balance learning time, hands-on time and fun time. It was sincerely one of the best conference experiences I have ever had.”

 

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