Bits and Bites

News from Jen Messer Nutrition

Red, White, and Blue Breakfast

Calling all busy people; A simple, Festive Breakfast or Snack for the 4th of July!


  • 1 cup strawberries

  • 2 cups low-fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 1/2 cup granola or nuts - I love walnuts

  • 1 ⁄ 4 cup pomegranate seeds

  • 2 leaves mint leaves (optional)


  1. Layer 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt into the bottom of two glasses or mason jars.

  2. Top with 2 tablespoons of strawberries followed by 2 tablespoons of blueberries and 1 tablespoon of granola or nuts.

  3. Repeat arrangement with remaining yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries so they are equally portioned among the two glasses or mason jars.

  4. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves, if desired

  5. Layers take a few minutes but look so festive - pressed for time? Just decorate the yogurt with berries and granola or nuts sprinkled on top.

What to Look For in a Yogurt, 4 Tips!

  1. Look for “live active cultures” on the food label to be sure you are getting some probiotics. Prevention Magazine interviewed me for this article all about probiotics and yogurt - Read it Here!

  2. Keep the added sugars low - there is natural sugar in lactose and some added sugar adds to taste but try to keep it under 10 grams for your best bet. Lots of added sugar regularly are added calories without nutrition benefits.

  3. Look for low-fat or fat-free varieties for heart health - unless you are looking to conceive - then full-fat dairy might be recommended!

  4. Check out the protein in grams on the food label if you are enjoying your yogurt post-workout, are losing weight, or enjoying it as a meal. Greek yogurt can be a good bet with increased protein in a serving. It will keep you full longer and help repair and maintain muscle tissue.

My Favorite Yogurt Brands:

  • Chobani Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt - (I like it with Stevia drops)

  • Two Good Low Fat Lower Sugar - all flavors

  • Chobani Zero Sugar Vanilla Yogurt - Vanilla, Key lime, Cookies and Cream, Strawberry Cheesecake (but sometimes you can taste a *hint* of artificial flavor with these.)

  • Icelandic Provisions Skyr - all flavors

  • My current favorite Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla

  • Vegan? I love GT’s Cocoyo Living Coconut Yogurt, Raspberry

Could Stress Be Impacting Your Nutrition?

I’d have to say that the one thing most Americans have in common is living with a significant amount of stress. I noticed when I was in Iceland there was a different vibe. I could feel that I was wound tighter than a top. I’m not an anthropologist but it feels like some of this might be part of our culture and stress feels a little addictive too. It’s hard to break out of habits.

Did you know that stress has an effect on our nutrition? We can eat more or eat differently under stress, with most of us gravitating toward a higher intake of highly palatable foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Has anyone had a more stressful couple of years since surviving a pandemic - YES? Stress eating can cause us to eat greater amounts of any food but it also can trigger us to eat increasing amounts of foods that do not support our health.

We are not alone. Did you know that other animals “stress eat” too? In one study, rats exposed to numerous kinds of stress engaged in stress-induced eating of lard and sucrose. Stress eating has also been observed in captive common marmosets. In fact, this study mentions explicitly socially stressful conditions, such as isolation (think pandemic shutdowns) as a precursor to increases in plasma cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone whose release is increased in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentrations.

Increased cortisol is what promotes increased eating. In one study subjects with naturally occurring high cortisol levels ate more food than those with lower cortisol. Cortisol also promotes eating by reducing the brain’s sensitivity to leptin (a satiety hormone.) So, if you are chronically stressed you can imagine the long-term impact on your health and nutrition. Increased chronic disease, weight gain, poor sleep, and reduced immune function. Now that I am over 50, I’m also in tune with the premature skin aging effects of chronically high cortisol levels.

Reduced Stress = Improved Nutrition

  • Consider professional help. If you feel like the stress in your life has increased to a level that you are having trouble coping find a mental health professional; Healing Roots and Jill Fimbel are local recommendations.

  • Ask family, friends, and loved ones for help. So many of my clients are “super people” they do it all - sometimes for everyone else at a cost to their own mental health. Americans like to be “Independent”, especially in July! Asking for help does not mean you are weak or lazy – everyone needs support. It means you are human.

  • Are you working from home now? This has increased the amount of work people do and working longer hours increases: stress, risk of depression, substance misuse, overeating, heart disease, and diabetes! How can you separate work from home life and strike a better balance?

  • Try a meditation App - InsightTimer or headspace are two I enjoy.

  • Try an in-person yoga, movement, or meditation class and reduce your isolation. Here are some favorite local options; Forever Yoga, Tula Yoga & Nutrition, Amanda Bryan, and Move Often Be Well.

  • Massage can be therapeutic some local recommendations; Reflective Recovery and Body Kneads.

  • Workout - this is my favorite practice of all a run, walk, or lift is the perfect prescription for me. I can just feel the stress leave my body. Lately, I love to walk and talk on the phone with my mom or daughter (who lives in another state). Catching up with someone you love combined with movement feels so good. My other daughters are my workout buddies and I think in between sets we spend more time laughing, talking, and problem-solving than resting. I’ve got a few master workout buddies too - my friends that understand the physical and psychological challenges of aging as an athlete.

  • Get social - my other favorite workouts happen at CrossFit Wachusett. A great group of no-drama athletes who support one another in our lives and health journeys. Bonus: my daughter is a coach there!

Check Out My New Space!

The Wellness Seed 5 Northern Blvd, Suite #14, Amherst, NH 03031.

My office has Practitioners who have joined together to bring opportunities for counseling, yoga, massage, nutrition, trauma-informed movement therapy, personal training, meditation, educational seminars, and support groups to our community. Local art, too.

Registered Dietitians take insurance! I am in-network with Aetna, Anthem BCBS, Cigna, Harvard Pilgrim, New Hampshire Healthy Families, United Healthcare, and Well Sense Health Plan. Alternatively, If I am not in your network, I can provide you with an invoice to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Self-pay is also welcome. Or use pre-tax Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts.