Oh Zucchini!

It’s mid-August — the days of hot temperatures, smoky skies, the approach of fall semester, and…loads of zucchini. Sadly, the zucchini plants in my garden didn’t fare so well this year, but I’m lucky to have generous in-laws who recently brought over a bag of zucchini and summer squash for my family, and then I was back in the familiar position of trying to figure out what to do with it all!

I remembered that years ago we asked MUS plan members to share a favorite recipe with us. We must have presented this challenge in late summer, because we received a ton of zucchini recipes! So, if you’re like me these days and trying to use up lots of zucchini, here are a few ways, thanks to your coworkers, to enjoy your summer bounty:

Chicken Zucchini Boats  

Recipe by Cindy Boies


  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 4 roma tomoatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, deseed.
  3. Fill a baking dish with about ¾ inch of water. Bake in water bath until tender but not mushy. Approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Pour out water.
  4. Turn zucchini flesh side up in baking pan. Carve out additional trough in zucchini.
  5. Layer the following in the zucchini boat, amounts will depend on the size of the zucchini: Cooked chicken (chopped into small to medium size pieces),tomatoes (deseeded and diced), and avocado (diced)
  6. Drizzle desired amount of green enchilada sauce over zucchini filling.
  7. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over filling.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is brown, approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Zucchini Parmesan with Tomato Sauce

Recipe submitted by Annette Galioto


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 zucchini, peeled, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute zucchini until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Season zucchini with oregano and basil.
  3. Add tomato sauce; cook and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over zucchini mixture.

Zucchini Quiche

Recipe submitted by Anita Brown


  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 cup bisquick
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper


  1. Mix all together in bowl.  Pour in large buttered pie dish & bake at 350 for 30-45 min until it starts to brown.

Zucchini Burgers

Recipe submitted by Jill Seigmund


  • 1 lb ground turkey or lean beef
  • 1 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, or other burger seasoning


  1. Mix the ground meat with the shredded zucchini.  
  2. Shape into five hamburger patties and season with salt and pepper or Mrs. Dash.  
  3. Grill and serve as you would a regular hamburger.

Other ideas:

  • Make zucchini noodles, or “zoodles”, with a spiralizer
  • Shred with a cheese grater, and freeze in 1 or 2 cup labeled portions to use in baked goods (this is especially good to do with very large zucchinis)
  • Serve sliced & raw with a veggie dip or hummus
  • Use as pizza or salad toppings
  • Make zucchini “butter”

Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite way to enjoy zucchini!

Happy Eating!




2015 Incentive Program Wrap-Up

Our 2016 Incentive Program launched on Monday (1/11), and we hope many of you have had the chance to log in, check out the new challenges, and get started. The Wellness Team is aiming to hit the Million Step Club by May 1st. Who’s with us?!

Before we get too far with the 2016 program though, we wanted to take a moment to wrap-up our 2015 program, and share some of the amazing successes that you all achieved.

In planning last year’s (2015) incentive program, our Wellness team wanted to make a “stretch” goal for our top level—something that would only be reachable by someone who was in it to win it from the beginning to the end. We are proud to announce that 79 individuals made it. These people, from all across the Montana University System, took the program seriously, participated in nearly every challenge offered, and really set the bar high. Below is a list of the amazing individuals who reached Expedition Leader during our 2015 program. If you work with any of these people, or see them on your campus, please give them a big high-five for their incredible achievement! Well done Expedition Leaders!

Flathead Valley Community College

  • Leslie Beard
  • Chris Clouse
  • Amelia Ward
  • Adam Wenz

Great Falls College MSU

  • Karen Vosen

Helena College

  • Amy Kong
  • Joyce Walborn

Miles Community College

  • Don Warner

Montana State University Billings

  • Frank Cookson
  • Tami Haaland
  • Janice Ouldhouse
  • Jessica Torgerson-Lundin
  • Sue Weinreis

Montana State University Bozeman

  • Susan Andrus
  • Lisa Bogar
  • Aaron Britton
  • Christy Cousino
  • Alisha Downs
  • Jim Espeland
  • Julie Geyer
  • Steve Glow (MSU Nursing Missoula Campus)
  • Jacinta Harris
  • Sarah Hendrikx
  • Kayte Kaminski
  • Qasim Khan (MSU Southern AES Research Center)
  • Peggy Lamb (MSU Northern AES Research Center)
  • Jocelyn Larson
  • Michael Lindberg
  • Ara Meskimen
  • Ana Murphy
  • Maureen Parsons
  • Ramie Pederson
  • Kathy Rich
  • Amy Ross
  • Kelly Shepardson
  • Jennifer Storment
  • Lindsey Tollefson

Montana State University Northern

  • Katherine Williams

Montana Tech

  • Luke Buckley
  • Doug Cameron
  • Marilyn Cameron
  • Colleen Fink
  • Bev Hartline
  • Cathy Isakson
  • Joanne Lee
  • Sean Milligan
  • Dan Owens
  • Kim Roberts
  • Debbie Smith

Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE)

  • Mary Lachenbruch
  • Jane Liedle

University of Montana Missoula

  • Gabriel Ansah
  • Michael Bloom
  • Ken Chatriand
  • Angie Cronin
  • Carla Fritz
  • Dan Grogan
  • Brent Harshbarger
  • Shelley Harshbarger
  • John Heaney
  • Joshua Herbold
  • T.K.
  • Marian Langston
  • Sarah Miller
  • Dionne Peterson
  • Emmalee Plenger
  • Hannah Singleton
  • Gerry Steele
  • Karel Stroethoff

University of Montana Western

  • Lexi Benson
  • Jenny Fox
  • Cecelia Kuskie

Four randomly drawn Expedition Leaders were also the lucky winners of our top prize gift cards: Luke Buckley (Montana Tech), Ana Murphy (MSU Bozeman), Shelley Harshbarger (UM Missoula), and Julie Geyer (MSU Bozeman). Congrats!

Lastly, one of our final challenges of 2015 was called Race to the Finish, in which points were awarded to employees on each campus that achieved an overall participation rate of 60% or higher. We had some serious cheerleaders for our incentive program as a result of the challenge, and we appreciate all of your efforts to recruit coworkers to the program. Thanks to you, we have over 55% of our eligible population now signed up for the incentive program. The top 3 campuses, by participation rate, were the following:

  1. Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (74%)
  2. Great Falls College (71%)
  3. Flathead Valley Community College (70%)

Thanks again for making 2015 a successful year for MUS Wellness. We hope the program challenged you to move more, eat better, make health a priority, and have a little fun along the way.  Onward to 2016!

A Major Award!

MUS Wellness was recognized this week as the winner of the large employer Healthy Workforce Productivity Award, by the Montana Association of Health Care Purchasers (MAHCP). We were honored to receive the award on behalf of our entire Wellness/Benefits team, and feel it is a great reflection of our many employees and staff who actively pursue the betterment of health in order to live high quality, high impact lives!

The award reads:

In recognition of leadership in the area of health and productivity, this award honors an employer that has worked with its employees to develop, implement, and measure an innovative health and productivity initiative.

Thanks for being a part of this by your participation and partnership with MUS Wellness, and thanks for being our healthy, productive MUS workforce! May you continue to enjoy your journey in the quest for health and happiness! Much more is to come!

Neal and Cristin got all cleaned up to accept the major award. A colleague from It Starts With Me had trouble recognizing Neal in a tie.


Pain Management Webinar: Thursday 9/18

Did you miss it?  No Problem.

Here’s a link to the Recording.

While reading comments from our 2013 Annual Wellness Survey, we were able to detect several themes. Many of the themes revolved around management: stress management, pain management, time management, and work/life/family balance. Therefore, MUS Wellness will focus on these common themes in our “Manage Your Life” webinar series.

Pain Management:

Pain comes in many forms and intensities. For some it is a daily annoyance, for others, it can be debilitating. One thing is for certain: pain is a part of life and we all have to deal with it sooner or later. In this webinar, we’ll look at some common causes of pain, and talk about strategies and techniques to prevent pain, and/or minimize its impact on the quality of your life.

Thursday, September 18th, 12:05pm

  • Presenters:  Neal Andrews & Cristin Stokes from MUS Wellness



MSU Treadmill Workstation

The Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center on the campus of MSU Bozeman recently purchased a treadmill workstation, called “Office On the Move.” Neal Andrews from MUS Wellness demos the workstation and discusses the benefits of adding light activity during the day, as well as the dangers of sedentary behavior. To reserve a time to use the workstation, call the Fitness Center at 994-5500.

Living Healthy…past Retirement

Of the nearly 20 years of life you can expect after you retire, what do you want those years to look like?  What do you want to be able to do and to see?  What do you want to leave as your legacy?

Last month, the CDC released some interesting statistics regarding post-retirement life expectancy.  In a state-by-state analysis, they looked not only at how long populations in each state could expect to live past retirement age, but perhaps more importantly, how many of those years could be expected to be lived in good health.

Here’s how Montana fared:

Life Expectancy (total population past age 65)

  • Montana ranked 24th in the nation (tie), at 19.2 years LE past 65.
  • Hawaii was #1, at 21.3 years
  • National average: 19.1

Healthy Life Expectancy (total population past age 65)

  • Montana ranked 19th in the nation (tie), at 14.6 years HLE past 65.
  • Hawaii was #1, at 16.2 years
  • National average: 13.9

When looked at as a percentage of healthy years past age 65, Montanans can expect to spend nearly 76% of their post-retirement in good health.  This is 14th best in the nation (Vermont ranked #1 at 78.2%, and the national average was 72.7%).  As expected, when broken down by gender, females are living longer than their male counterparts, but not necessarily living a higher percentage of healthy years in every state.  In Montana, this does hold true, with females living both longer total and longer in health.

What does all this mean?  Well, first of all, as a state we’re not doing bad versus the national average when we look at Healthy Life Expectancy.  These numbers also give us something to strive for.  Of the nearly 20 years of life you can expect after you retire, what do you want those years to look like?  What do you want to be able to do and to see?  What do you want to leave as your legacy?  How you’re living today and tomorrow will have an enormous impact on how those questions ultimately get answered.

Our Vision at MUS Wellness is this:

Our plan members engaged in the ownership and betterment of their health and well-being in order to maximize quality of life

This is why we’re very interested in statistics like these, because we wish a high quality of life for you—today, tomorrow, when you retire, and all the way until the end.  We have many programs in place to help achieve this vision, and many ways you can be involved.  Good health is affected by many things:  diet, exercise, sleep habits, stress management, and our relationships with others, to name a few big components.  If you’re concerned about your health, a good place to start is to assess how you’re doing in some of these areas, or get someone to help you assess and make a plan to achieve the vision of living a high quality life—both today, post-retirement, and all your days in-between.

You can engage in a Wellness Program such as Ask-an-Expert or Take Control if you need help with getting on track.  Information about these programs and many others can be found on our Wellness Website.  And as always, you can contact us at wellness@montana.edu for more information about how we can help you live a healthy life!

State HLE by Gender
Healthy Life Expectancy past age 65 by gender.

If you are interested in reading the entire article from the CDC, here is the link:

State-Specific Healthy Life Expectancy at Age 65 Years — United States, 2007–2009, CDC

You must be a Montana University System Insured Plan member to participate.

SMART Goal Setting

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  –Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

Too often in life, for whatever reason(s), we sometimes get stuck in a rut and end up going about our routines without any direction or purpose, as reflected by the famous quote from Lewis Carroll.  This trend is often no different with our exercise routines, when we repeat the same routine or workouts with little progression or variety, or just kind of do whatever we feel like on any particular day.  It’s also easy, without a plan, to not feel like doing anything at all.  I can make these accusations with a clear conscious, knowing that I have certainly been guilty of these training/life pitfalls myself.

So, how can we “be better”, as my wife likes to tell me?  Stephen R. Covey gives us some great advice in  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when he advises us to

Begin with the end in mind.

One effective tool that will allow us to set our goals by “beginning with the end in mind” is the acronym SMART.

SMART stands for:

Specific.    Saying you want to be healthier this year is not specific.  Saying you want to lose 7 pounds and go to the gym 3 days a week is.  Saying you want to get toned up isn’t specific.  Saying you want to go from 24% body fat to 19% is.  Saying you want to get faster this year isn’t specific.  Saying you want to take 2 minutes off your 5K time is.  If it’s not specific, it’s not really a goal.  If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

Measurable.  Usually, specific goals tend to be measurable as well.  Drawing from the example above, I can’t measure “toned”.  I can measure weight, or body fat percentage, or BMI, or circumference measurements.  I can measure strength by how much you can lift.  Speed by, well…your race times.  EasyPeasy.

Attainable and Realistic.  Essentially, don’t set yourself up to fail!  This doesn’t mean we can’t dream, but it does mean we set goals–even if they are short term–that are within our reality to reach.  Example:  I want to run a 2:05 marathon and win the Boston Marathon next year.  Specific–very.  Measurable–yes.  Attainable and Realistic–not in a million years.

Time Based.  When do you want to accomplish your goal?  The time may be set by an event, or season, or maybe you want to be to that desired weight/body comp by the beginning of ski season so you can really tear up the slopes!  Circle a date on the calendar, and put it somewhere where you see it every day!

So get going!  If you need help with your goals, or if you know your goals but don’t know “what road to take” to get you there, find someone who can help you.  That’s what coaches and trainers are for, and there are plenty of smart and knowledgeable ones around.

These guidelines can help you whether you’re creating goals for life, work, or health.  Finally, no matter what kind of goals you’re working on, put your goals in writing.

It’s not a goal unless you write it down.

There’s something about the written word–it becomes real as soon as you write it.  Best wishes for your SMART Goal setting!  Let us know if we can help!