Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Busy People Promote Fuel Up to Play 60

My grandpa Dankers often said, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." I thought that was, and is, such a profound thought. Way to go grandpa! Since then, I discovered (thanks Google) it wasn't grandpa that came up with these words of wisdom. It may not have been a grandpa Dankers "original" but it is still profound, so thanks, Mr. Benjamin Franklin.

I recently spent time with some of the busiest, and fun people I know- 
Fuel Up To Play 60 program advisers. 

Fuel Up To Play 60 is a program funded by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with USDA, that empowers students to take charge in making small, everyday changes at school. 

A recent training was held to equip these volunteers (yes, I said volunteers) in ways to implement the program to encourage students to change the way they look at food and nutrition, and change their attitudes about physical education. 

 We at Bremer Farms are proud to be a part of this program that promotes healthy foods and healthy activity. Dairy foods are a perfect fit in the Fuel Up To Play 60 program. 

I was given the opportunity to represent Minnesota's nearly 3,400 dairy farmers at this training event, complete with a milk toast honoring dairy farmers contributions to healthy eating and Fuel Up To Play 60.

Now that training is complete, each program adviser will head back to their school to fire-up their students about FUTP60.

I was invited by Harriet Bishop Elementary to attend their Fuel Up To Play60 kick-off event! A healthy breakfast complete with strawberry-banana smoothies, time to visit with the students about my life as a dairy farmer, a question and answer time, and they even made a video of my visit! Take a peek...
I am grateful for the program volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to a program that encourages healthy eating and exercise. Thanks also to the National Football League, our Minnesota Vikings, and my fellow dairy farmers for recognizing the value in Fuel Up To Play 60.

Click here to learn more about my involvement in...


Monday, October 26, 2015

Dairy Every Day

I am so pleased to introduce you to April Graff, my guest blogger. She is not only really smart when it comes to good food choices, but she is a fun person that I met at a conference in Kansas City, and again in Chicago. Today she shares the benefits and tips of including dairy in your diet.
Top 5 Ways to Add Dairy to Your Day

As a supermarket dietitian, I often get asked about the role of dairy in health. What benefits does dairy provide and how to pick the best products. Here’s my top 5 ways to add dairy to your day. 

  1. Yogurt. Sales of yogurt have sky-rocketed the past several years, mostly in Greek yogurt sales. Benefits: Calcium for strong bones and teeth, b-vitamins for energy, and protein (6-14 grams/serving) to keep you fuller longer. Greek yogurts will be higher in protein, but traditional yogurt still has about 6 grams per serving. 
Tip: Check the label for added sugars. Plain, unflavored varieties are best (add your own fruit), or look for those with the lowest sugar content (aim for 9-15 grams of sugar, the lower the better). *Note: yogurt naturally contains some sugar (lactose); it is the added sugars we want to minimize.

  2. Kefir. Often thought of as drinkable yogurt, this flavorful drink is a perfect addition to smoothies or cereal. Benefits: Kefir is a great source of probiotics (good bacteria) to help keep your gut healthy. Many kefir products contain 12 grams protein/serving for fullness.

Tip: Just like yogurt, kefir can have added sugars. Choose a product with lower sugar (or opt for plain). 

 3. Milk.Classic milk may not have the flair or marketing that other products have, but this powerhouse is packed with nutrition for just pennies per serving! Benefits: One serving (8 oz) has 8 grams of protein, 9 essential vitamins and minerals, and packs a hydrating punch.

Tip: For those with lactose intolerance, try a lactose-free milk for all the nutrition without the complications. 

  4. Cheese. Many people’s favorite dairy product, cheese often gets a bad rap. Benefits: Protein, fat (yes, fat is a benefit when eaten in moderation), and flavor make this #dairygood food a great choice. 
Tip:  The key to including cheese into a healthy diet is portion size. One ounce of cheese (think a piece of string cheese or a small handful of shredded) can be enough to take any meal and make it amazing (pasta, salads and eggs). 

  5. Ice Cream. Perhaps the most indulgent of dairy products, ice cream can fit into a balanced lifestyle. Benefits: Surprisingly, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus are in that decadent bowl of creamy goodness. 
Tip: Portion size is important. One serving of ice cream is just ½ cup, which can look lonely in a big bowl. Instead, opt for a coffee mug as a portion-appropriate dish. Plus, including a “treat” is all a part of a healthy lifestyle. So eat responsibly! 
    About April Graff, MS, RD, LD
          April is a supermarket dietitian working for Hy-Vee. She loves everything there is about food from growing to shopping, cooking and especially EATING! Her passion is to help people translate nutrition recommendations into everyday life – she blogs at She started her blog because it seems like every day someone asks her “What do YOU eat?” The reality is, she is a Midwestern girl. Balance is the key. Eating healthy is more than adding in one miracle food to cure all ailments. It is about having a healthy relationship with food. She has collaborated with brands and organizations like Midwest Dairy Council, Nestle and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine. April lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. You can find April on Twitter @AprilGraffRD, on Instagram at April Graff RD and on Facebook.


Friday, October 23, 2015

My Dad Is Smiling

My dad was a dairy farmer all of his life. He loved everything about his chosen profession. He especially enjoyed harvest and the great feeling of accomplishment he got when the corn was safely tucked in the corn bins, ready to feed our cows.

This past week I did the combining for the first time in my life, and I know my dad was smiling down on me!

On our farm, like many farms, each of us in our family has certain responsibilities, and driving the combine has always been Grandpa Roy's job, but with his current health issues 
he is unable to drive, so it was my turn to give it a try.

The combine has three jobs. First it cuts off the corn stalk from the ground. Next it separates the stalk from the corn. Finally, the combine removes any remaining debris from the corn. The combine "combines" three jobs, hence the name! After some instruction from Farmer John on how to work the controls and what all the buttons did, I was off and running.

For eight days this was my view. As the combine followed down the rows of corn, I thought of my dad, and how much he enjoyed the harvest season.

And I too got the feeling of accomplishment, as I watched through the window behind me, as the combine filled with kernels of corn.
"I wish your Dad could see you now," Farmer John said.

As each load of corn was transferred from the combine to the wagon to be moved to the storage bins, I thought about how fortunate I am to be doing something I enjoy, and that also benefits so many people.

What a blessing to be outdoors appreciating the beauty God has placed around us, the feeling of a job well done, and the smile on Grandpa Roy's (my father-in-law)  face when I finished harvesting our 130 acres of corn.

And to you Dad, I now know why you loved harvest-
I can tell you're smiling!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Food Preservation

If you ask any farmer, I think they will all agree that when it comes to harvest time, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Even though many farmers work well into the darkness, we still wish for more time each day to check a few more tasks off our to-do list.  

Our list is a bit longer this year, as we've had a change in our work force. You see, Grandpa Roy took a tumble this Summer and broke his leg and also had some heart trouble. Now, I am the first to admit he deserves a vacation from farm chores, but I am confident this is not the vacation he planned! He is getting stronger everyday, but he will be supervising harvest from his recliner this Fall.

While daughter Sara milked cows, and Grandma Karen fed calves; son Michael, Farmer John, and I recently completed chopping corn silage. I like to call it "food preservation."

As Farmer John drove the forage chopper, which chops the entire corn plant into little pieces, and then blows it into a wagon pulled behind the chopper...

...son Michael brought the wagons in from the field.

And now it was my turn. My job was to unload the silage from the wagon into the bags that store the silage. The wagon is lined up to a "shoot" that leads from the wagon to a machine that pushes the silage into the world's largest plastic bag.

The silage left the wagon via an auger system.

It then traveled up the "shoot" and into the packing machine. My job was to slowly drive the tractor forward a few inches at a time because as the bag filled, the bagger moved ahead.

And wah-lah! a lunch bag (8 feet tall and 200 feet long) filled with nutritious corn silage. 

 I admit that I have never been a part of the "silage adventure" but I was willing to learn.  Perhaps I was in charge of this part of the procedure because I have done a lot of food preservation over the years, but this surely was not your typical canning or freezing I was used to!
Silage complete! Check it off our to-do list! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Day in the Life of Princess Kay

Earlier this Summer, I became the Minnesota Dairy Princess Coordinator. I told you all about it in my blog post 12 Good Reasons.
On the eve before the start of the Minnesota State Fair, Kyla Mauk became our 62nd Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Minnesota's dairy ambassador. Congratulations to Kyla!
One of my duties as Minnesota Dairy Princess Coordinator is to chaperone Princess Kay and the eleven princess finalists at the Minnesota State Fair, so from August 26th to September 8th, I packed my bags and moved from the farm to a hotel near the state fair to spend morning, noon, and night with 12 of the best Minnesota farm girls I know!

So what does Princess Kay and the finalists do for 12 days of the Great Minnesota Get-Together? 

Princess Kay, and each of the finalists get their likeness carved from a 90 pound block of sweet, creamy butter. This tradition has been going on for 40+ years, and Princess Kay is tradtionally carved on the first day of the Fair. While fairgoers watched, six to eight hours of Princess Kyla's first day of her reign were spent in a 40 degree, rotating cooler as sculptor Linda Christensen worked her magic.

 Every afternoon Princess Kay climbed aboard the float with State Fair mascots Fairborne and Fairchild for some fun during the daily parade.  

 Each day there were amatuer butter sculptures to be judged,
presentations to be given,
 and thousands of fair-goers to greet...and lots of photo opportunities!
 Sunday morning was spent handing out chocolate milk to re-fuel the runners at the finish line of the annual "Milk Run."
   There were also many chances for Kyla to share about dairy farming and dairy foods as she was scheduled for many media appearances. Whether it was a cow milking contest-
a radio interview-
handing out Salted Caramel Puff Malts-

or helping out the local weather man-
it was always done with a smile!

As Princess Kyla looks forward to the upcoming year of representing Minnesota's nearly 3,400 dairy farmers, I look forward to watching her journey, as I am proud to say she's representing the dairy community I love!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Never A Dull Moment" Dinner

I feel certain you have heard the phrase, "Never a dull moment." If our family had a motto, this would be it! Fortunately, my family and I thrive on being busy.

Sara and the 8th grade class of 2015.
Daughter Sara is thinking back to school. It's not only the students that prepare for, and anticipate the first day of school, but teachers like Sara have school in mind as well. She has been rearranging and reorganizing her classroom library, "beautifying" her classroom, mentoring new 8th grade Language Arts teachers, and preparing for a student teacher from a nearby college. Never a dull moment! 

 She is a great example of one of those people that was born to teach! I know I sound like a bragging mom, but she, like so many other great teachers, always put the students first. She's creative and is always coming up with new ideas. I mean, let's face it- how many new and different ways can you think of to teach historical fiction and grammar, and still keep 14 year old's engaged? She goes the proverbial extra mile for the kids. Which is why there is never a dull moment for Sara!

So in honor of Sara, and dedicated teachers everywhere, I'm sharing one of the first recipes Sara learned to make-

Sara's Impossible Cheeseburger Pie 
1 pound hamburger
1/2 cup minced onions, if desired
1 cup milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup Bisquick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Brown hamburger and onions, drain. Beat milk, eggs, Bisquick, salt and pepper. Put browned meat mixture in 10" pie pan. Pour liquid mixture over this and bake at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes. Take from oven. Top with tomatoes and cheese. Return to oven and bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean. (5-8 minutes) Serves 6-8.

And then when Sara's school day is over, it's on to farm chores.
 Never a dull moment...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Batter Up For America

I don't claim to be the biggest sports fan in America, but I do enjoy following our Minnesota teams. I'm also one of those people who gets a bit "star-struck" when I get the opportunity to meet one of these athletes. 

When I recently got asked to represent dairy farmers at an autograph signing with Minnesota Twins own baseball rookie, Eddie Rosario, I thought wow! A Minnesota sports celebrity and promoting dairy? That's a win-win situation!

The focus of this event was to share the importance of the
 Great American Milk Drive
which, with your help, makes milk available to children and families in need,
 especially in the summer months. 

According to Feeding America, more than half a million people in Minnesota are food insecure. Nearly 1-in-6 children throughout Minnesota struggle with hunger and may be at risk of missing out on milk's nutrition during the summer months.

Bob Chatmas, of Second Harvest, shared that milk is the single most requested nutritious item by food bank clients, but it's rarely donated. On average, food banks are only able to provide one gallon of milk per person per year. This means food bank clients can't even come close to the recommended three servings of dairy each day!

Most of us don't have to think twice about picking up a gallon of milk when we run out, and yes, even though I'm a dairy farmer surrounded by milk, I buy my milk at the store, just like you. But some families in our communities are missing this nutrient rich beverage. It's a problem that impacts all sorts of families - in urban, suburban and rural communities. Hunger is everywhere.

The Great American Milk Drive is a Feeding America program that's made possible by the nation's milk companies and dairy farmers, like me. It is designed to make it easy for all of us to donate much-needed milk to local food banks. I've donated several times by clicking on the link above. 
Won't you?