Erin McGrawJust as temperatures plunge in the Midwestern winter months, so can energy levels. While some blame the cold weather for their winter blues, there may be more at play. Factors that contribute to low energy levels may include post-holiday let down, stress, lack of sleep, limited physical activity and underlying health conditions. Of course, the shorter and darker days of winter can also leave you feeling lethargic.

Putting more pep in your step may be a matter of making better food choices as nutrition plays a role in energy levels. “A simple change to boost your mood is to consider the food you eat,” says registered dietitian and nutrition educator Erin McGraw with St. Louis District Dairy Council. “Including foods with protein in your meals throughout the day can enhance mood and prevent sugar and carb cravings. You feel better about yourself when you eat better.”

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McGraw suggests eating small meals and snacks every three to four hours to keep a steady amount of energy available for busy bodies and schedules. Foods that are packed with protein take longer to digest and can be a strong defense against hunger. “With eight grams of protein plus eight other important vitamins and minerals, dairy’s powerful nutrition package can help prevent energy crashes,” says McGraw.

When planning daily meals, choose a variety of foods in each food group to ensure you are getting what your body needs for optimal health. “During the winter months, we may not be eating the same foods as we did during the summer. As a result, we may be lacking certain nutrients, making us feel sluggish,” states McGraw. Vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, D, and zinc, can help meet the challenges of staying healthy and energized this winter. Vitamin C, found naturally in fruits and vegetables, may help boost the immune system to fight winter colds. Foods fortified with Vitamin D, like milk and yogurt, may help balance mood and boost low Vitamin D levels that can happen with a decrease in the sun’s rays. And zinc, found naturally in fish, dairy, and eggs may also help ward off infections.

Being “beverage aware” when selecting drinks is another important step to improving energy levels. During winter, it is easy to become dehydrated and feel tired during the afternoon from not drinking enough of the right types of beverages. When energy levels are low, resist the temptation to reach for energy drinks, as they can be a source of empty calories. Instead, choose beverages that boost hydration and provide a nutritional punch. “Grab a glass of milk to nourish the body, bones, and muscles. It’s naturally nutrient-rich and can help keep you hydrated,” suggest McGraw.

For additional information on dairy foods, visit, call St. Louis District Dairy Council at (314)-835-9668, or e-mail ( For easy and tasty recipes, check us out on Facebook and Instagram at STLDairyCouncil.

Breakfast Quesadillas
Need a boost to get you going in the morning? This breakfast quesadilla is packed full of protein to keep you full until your next meal!


  • 2Tbs butter + ½ cup as needed for tortillas
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ½ medium jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 8-inch tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup sour cream


  1. In a large pan, sauté green onions and jalapeno in 2Tbs butter.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cumin.
  3. Pour egg mixture into sauté pan and cook until eggs are cooked through.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper.
  5. Melt butter on griddle over medium heat. Place half the tortillas on griddle and top with ½ the cheese, the egg mixture, meaning cheese, and tortillas. Cook until tortillas are golden, flipping to cook on the other side, until the cheese is melted.
  6. Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve topped with salsa and sour cream.

Herbed Lemon Ricotta Dip

This delicious dip offers a classic combination of high quality dairy protein with fiber found in vegetables to help provide a quality snack to pick you up between meals!


  • 1 – 15oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 Tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped oregano
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Assorted vegetables for dipping


  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well to combine

Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers

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