Bits and Bites

News from Jen Messer Nutrition

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

-A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

August was month of change. My youngest daughter, Kate, was off to college and she seems to be settling in quickly. She is the only official “extrovert” of the family so, I think she will love dorm life and the opportunity to make so many new connections. I’m so pleased that her courses will be held in person (for the moment anyway.) Online learning can be a real struggle. The best part? She unexpectedly stayed in state which will make it easier to spectate at her track meets and to pop in for visits when I need a hug.

At the end of August, my husband and I visited our oldest daughter, Emily, who lives in Pennsylvania. Last spring she started her first post undergraduate job as a middle school Spanish teacher. The visit was too short and reminded me of how much I miss her. I’ve planned a longer stay with her later this fall when her “official 2020 commencement” will be held at Dickinson College in September. She was unable to celebrate this achievement in real time due to the pandemic. We will be sure to include a stop at Longwood Gardens during our next time together. I highly recommend a trip to this astonishing botanical garden to everyone!

Emily freshman year at A Longwood Christmas

September is Hispanic Heritage Month 💃🏼🌮🇪🇸

Stay tuned to celebrate with a fun recipe later this month.

10 Tips for Cutting Meal Prep Time Down During the Week!

Back to School and “falling” back into our regular schedules can mean a bit more hustle and bustle. Here are some ways that you can keep your nutrition intact this fall.

  1. Make a double-batch or more of what you’re cooking for dinner! Making rice? Double or triple it then use it for another meal or lunch. Whole grains can take longer to cook. If they are done ahead you can shorten the time it takes to get dinner on the table. They can also be used for the rest of the week in soups, buddha bowls, and on salads.

  2. Grilling tonight? Cook extra and flavor each item with a different spice or sauce and use it another night for dinner or to pack a quick lunch. No grill? Use the same strategy with a sheet pan.

  3. Keep a well stocked pantry and refrigerator/freezer. It is much easier to put together a quick meal when there are plenty of supplies on hand. If you have beans, rice, and veggies on hand you can put together dinner in no time. Frozen vegetables are usually just as healthful as fresh - sometimes more so.

  4. Variety is the spice of life! I love the Mrs. Dash spice mixes - no salt, and ready to go. There are so many blends and flavors to try! Great on protein, veggies, in soups, casseroles, bean and rice salads too. She has taco, chili, stew, and meatloaf mix too!

  5. Treat yourself to a simple clean up and go for a 100% sheet pan dinner! Click here for some ideas to get you started.

  6. I always made use of an instant-pot on nights the girls had sports and I knew we would be getting home late. It’s easy to make a whole chicken this way with veggies and starch all in one. Make sure your chicken is on the metal trivet above about 1/2 broth, include potatoes and veggies under, over, or around your chicken, set to cook for 6 minutes per pound. Done! Leftover chicken can become soup, a wrap, served atop a salad for the next day’s lunch.

  7. At a fall sports event? Have dinner to go and tailgate or picnic! Pick up all the fixings for sandwiches or wraps at the grocer and serve with yogurt, nuts, and fruits. Have an appetizer of hummus with veggies to dip - snap peas, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes are all easy no-prep options. I love Ithaca brand of hummus so fresh and tasty. It is sold in Hannaford, Wholefoods, Market Basket, and Target.

  8. Investing in health can make life easier. Consider mail order meals like; Sunbasket (they even have plans for diabetics), Blue Apron, or Hello Fresh. Grocery delivery can be another handy option for busy families. Fruit or veggie subscriptions/delivery encourages variety and a full fruit bowl at all times. Sure, these services can be more expensive than doing everything yourself but it will be money well spent if it frees up more time and encourages healthful eating. After all, dining out and take out can be costly to your wallet and health!

  9. Homemade pizza! On a busy night try using a pre-made “crust” like whole grain Ezekiel English muffins, whole grain pita bread, wrap, or an Angelic Bakehouse flatzza crust (for my heart healthy clients they even carry a low-sodium option!) Then add the sauce and toppings of your choice! Quick, less expensive than take-out, and you can create a pizza combination that promotes your health goals.

  10. Breakfast for dinner is a quick and fun option on busy nights. Serve up an omelet filled with veggies and a salad. Try whole grain pancakes/French Toast with fresh fruit and fruit sauce. Fruit sauce can be blended in no time with a high powered mixer. Simply toss the fruit in with a dash of water and blend. Fall is a great time to use unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon as a nutrient dense swap for butter and maple syrup.

Do you want to eat healthier but feel like you can’t control cravings?

It’s not all in your head. Check out this article that explains that the answer to cravings might actually be in your gut! Our gut bacteria, aka microbiome, might have a lot to say when it comes to our food preferences. Some species prefer certain foods over others and have ways of convincing their hosts to eat more of what they like. There is good news, healthy eating becomes easier due to a shift in your microbiome!

One trick is to eat more fiber. The article tells us that “you can change your microbiota overnight with just a few good fiber-filled veggies like broccoli and artichokes.” The caveat? To keep a healthy microbe balance you need to keep eating these fiber rich type foods daily. These foods will help you to crave healthier options after a while.

Another tip, increase the variety of your diet to improve the variety of your microbiota. Diversity in your diet prevents one particular microbe species from dominating your gut population. Bonus: diet diversity doubles down to eliminate deficiencies in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals.)

The other good news? Exercise changes your microbiome by increasing beneficial microbial species and enriching diversity, as well as enhanced short-chain fatty acid synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism!

Need tips for more good fiber through veggies in your life? Read my latest blog here.

Got questions?

If you would like help managing your own nutrition get in touch. Fall is a the perfect time to establish new habits. I love helping people increase their energy, feel comfortable in their own skin, and normalize their biomarkers through wholesome nutrition! Please share my newsletter with anyone who might benefit from nutrition tips from a registered dietitian.

I accept Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, FSA/HSA accounts, and private pay.

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