A new addition to our Wellness family!

Our MUS Wellness and Employee Benefits Teams would like say a heartfelt congratulations to Cristin Stokes and her family as they welcomed their first child into the world on Wednesday, October 4th.

Meet Harrison Lane Stokes, born 7 lbs. 10 oz.

Harrison1

Mom, dad, and Harrison are now home and doing great! Cristin appreciates all of the support and well wishes from MUS employees during her pregnancy and birth.

Cristin will be taking a few weeks away to be with new baby.  We’ll miss her, but wish her and her family the best as they begin this exciting new endeavor!

Be Well baby Harrison!

Back-to-School Breakfasts!

School is back in session and for many of us, that means more responsibilities, tighter schedules, and often…less time for food prep. Breakfast especially can take a hard hit if school mornings are chaotic. Even if the start of school doesn’t change your schedule much, it’s rare to find someone who has time in the morning to sit down to a freshly prepared meal, especially as the weather starts to cool, the sun rises later, and your bed feels ever more cozy & comfortable in those early morning hours.

But rather than skipping breakfast or just grabbing a pastry at the coffee shop that will leave you hungry an hour later, do yourself a favor and prepare some healthy items ahead of time that are ready in a jiffy or that you can take with you on your way to work. While the internet is full of make-ahead breakfast ideas, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites to share with you all, plus a few additional recipes that actually sound realistic and manageable for the average working person with morning responsibilities.

Remember to include a source of protein with breakfast to keep you satisfied longer, and to spread your protein intake out throughout the day, which has been shown to be beneficial in helping your body utilize protein most efficiently.

Eggs

  • Mini-Crustless Quiches in Muffin Tins. These are easy to adapt to your preferences with different veggies, cheeses, etc.
  • Freezer Veggie Breakfast Burritos. Make a big batch (i.e. half dozen or more) for the entire week. Take out of freezer in the morning and throw in the microwave for ~2 minutes. Use smaller tortillas (8” or so) for portability and cool the filling first before wrapping in a tortilla and freezing to prevent your burrito from becoming soggy. You can change up the recipe based on what ingredients you have available in your fridge; I always recommend going heavy on the non-starchy vegetables, and easy on the potatoes and processed meat (or skip those altogether).
  • English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches. Again, easily adaptable based on what you have available.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs. Ok, so you probably don’t need a recipe, but I wanted to make sure to include these on the list. Having hard boiled eggs prepped and ready in your fridge means you have a perfect, transportable protein source to take along with your fruit smoothie or oatmeal.

Oats/Grains

  • Overnight Kefir Oats. These are really yummy, plus you can start your day with a boost of beneficial probiotics.
  • Steel Cut Oats: Given their heartier texture, these stand up to being made ahead of time. You can cook a big bowl on the weekend or whenever you have a chance, then add some milk or water when you warm them up. I love throwing a nut/seed trail mix on top, with a spoonful of honey or jam if you want to sweeten them up.
  • Homemade Muesli: Muesli tends to have less sugar and more fiber than granola, especially when homemade and you can limit the dried fruit and any added sweeteners (which I would suggest on the recipe linked above). Can be soaked overnight or added to yogurt/milk in the morning.
  • Homemade instant oatmeal: Most instant oatmeal purchased from the store is loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. Instead, make your own at home! This recipe comes from MUS employee Jane Wolery’s blog, who adapted it from the Iowa Extension’s Spend Smart Eat Smart blog. Thank you Jane!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rolled oats or quick cook oats
  • Optional mix-ins:
    • Chia seeds
    • Dried fruit
    • Nuts
    • Cinnamon
    • Pumpkin pie spice
    • Brown sugar (could also add honey or maple syrup right before serving)

Directions

Put rolled oats in blender or food processor. Blend for a bit, until you get some fine powder and some regular oat shapes. You could probably powderize about 1 cup of oats and then add 3 cups regular or quick cook oats to that powder. The powder should make a creamier and faster cooking product.  

If doing different flavors of packets, take about ½ c. of the oats and put in snack-size bags or containers.  Add about 1 tsp of sugar, dried fruits, nuts, chia seeds, etc.  If doing all the same, mix “extra” dry ingredients into one large container with oats and then portion out 2/3 c. or so into snack-size bags.  You’ll have to experiment with the sugar for a bigger batch or just add it to each portion.  When ready to use, pour contents of packet into a bowl, add hot water and let sit until oatmeal is creamy.   

Yogurt/Dairy

  • Yogurt Parfaits: These can be made several days in advance, and then if you want a little crunch, you can sprinkle a whole grain cereal on top just before eating.
  • Chia Seed Pudding With the chia seeds as a natural thickening agent, it’s possible to make chia seed pudding without yogurt, but in my opinion, the texture if far superior when you do add yogurt.

Baked goods

  • Breakfast Muffins. The key to a healthier breakfast muffin is portion size (no oversized muffins please!), less sugar, and hearty ingredients like nuts, seeds, and vegetables to increase prortein and fiber content.
  • Tina and Michael’s Nutritional Breakfast Cookies. Thank you to MUS employee Michael Bloom for sharing this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened                                               1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup peanut butter                                                      1/4 cup chopped figs
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar                                       1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract                                                       1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 large eggs                                                                      1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup cider or cold coffee                                          1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour                                                  1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour                                               1/2 cup coconut
  • 2 cups whole oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray or lightly grease baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl beat together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy.  Beat in eggs and cider or coffee.
  3. In a medium bowl stir together flours, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Mix flour mixture into peanut butter mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  4. Drop by ice cream scoopfuls (or 1/4 cup measuring cupfuls) 2-1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets.  Flatten slightly.
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden but still soft.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Smoothies

  • Snickerdoodle Green Smoothie: If made ahead, the avocado may discolor, but a quick stir before eating will make it unnoticeable.

Ingredients

  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ small avocado
  • ¼- ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Directions:  Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serves 1. Adapted from https://rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com/

  • Make-ahead Smoothie Packs. You can package ingredients for individual smoothies in ziploc bags, then let a bag chill in the refrigerator overnight and add the liquid to blend in the morning.
  • You can also prep entire smoothies a couple of days before and store in mason jars to transport. They will require a shake/stir to remix ingredients that may have settled, but they will be all ready to go!

Other

  • Mini-Tofu Quiches: Don’t turn up your nose so quickly at the mention of tofu for breakfast! These are delicious and packed with protein.

Happy Breakfast Eating!

Cristin

 

Climb On!

For those of you who participate in our MUS Wellness Incentive Program, one of our annual challenges is called “Climb On!”, and the challenge is to climb 70 flights of stairs or more per week, which is the default goal setting on many wearable health trackers like Fitbit™.

There are several reasons to climb. First, it’s fantastic for our metabolism. Climbing stairs or hills utilizes the strong, large muscles in our legs and hips, which drives our metabolic rate over 200% of its resting rate, and that’s at a walk. At the same time, climbing develops strength, balance, and coordination in those same muscles, which comes in handy in many parts of Montana, especially when recreating outdoors. So don’t miss an opportunity to take the stairs, it’s an easy way to gain fitness!

Last year, we interviewed one of our employees and learned how she customized this challenge in a way that made her, dare we say, step up.

Jocelyn Larson is part of the MSU Bozeman Recreational Sports & Fitness Staff, and we interviewed Jocelyn last year shortly after the “Climb On” challenge had ended. We waited to post this video until now, to give a little extra motivation to those participating in the challenge, or getting back into a regular exercise routine now that school is back in session. This is a great example of how to take one of our Wellness challenges and tailor it to fit your goals and schedule. Enjoy!

https://vimeo.com/230040117

Food Preservation: Saving the flavors of summer

Neal and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to have a dietetic intern with us here at MUS Wellness for two weeks. Our intern this year was Anna Goodrum, originally from Amery, Wisconsin, and a 2016 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Anna came to Montana with a strong interest in sustainable food systems and rural health. She will complete the Montana Dietetic Internship (MDI) program in May, after which she aspires to have a career in community nutrition. Please welcome Anna Goodrum, dietetic intern and guest blog writer:

Labor Day has come and gone, and as the increasingly colder nights begin to set in, many of us, myself included, prepare to say goodbye to the plethora of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables that spoil us during the summer months. It can be a long wait until fresh garden tomatoes are available once again, but fortunately for us, humans have many creative ways of preserving food, and we’ve been practicing these methods for thousands of years.

Fermentation and canning are two methods that are both easy and efficient ways of preserving that fresh taste of summer year-round. Let’s take a closer look at each method:

Fermentation:

Fermentation is a great first step into food preservation. It requires minimal equipment—just a mason jar or other container, salt, and chopped vegetable of choice—and is simple to do; all you need is a little bit of patience. Fermentation is essentially the breaking down of food matter over time by means of microorganisms. Microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria eat the sugars in the food and create a waste byproduct.  The byproduct produced varies, but usually is an acid, gas, or alcohol. A common (and favorite) example of this is beer, in which the byproduct produced from the microorganism (yeast) is alcohol.

Fermented food produced at home contains millions of active microbes. These active microbes, known as probiotics, have a number of nutritional benefits. Our gut microbiome has become a hot topic in the scientific world recently and for good reason. While much more scientific research is needed, there is evidence that our gut microbiome affects multiple aspects of our overall health, from cholesterol levels to brain activity. In addition, associations between fermented dairy products and weight maintenance have been observed, along with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. For more about the gut microbiome, listen to our most recent podcast!

All the potential benefits of fermented foods are exciting. However, it is not to be forgotten that we are dealing with bacteria, and proper food safety is vital to promote beneficial bacteria and minimize harmful bacteria. Always make sure your utensils, prep area, and jars are clean.  Make sure to follow the recipe carefully and add the appropriate amount of salt. Generally, salt, as well as anaerobic and acidic conditions, favors the growth of desirable bacteria while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Below are two great beginner recipes that go a little bit more in depth about the fermentation process.

Canning:

Unlike fermentation, in which we want certain microorganisms to proliferate, canning uses heat to kill all microorganisms, allowing the food to be shelf-stable (without refrigeration). Canning requires a bit more equipment and knowledge than fermentation, but is still quite affordable and easy to learn.

There are two canning methods: boiling water canning and pressure canning. The type of canning method used depends on the acidity level of what you are canning. High-acid foods such as fruits and pickled products use the boiling water method. Low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, fish, and beans require a pressure canner. I suggest starting off with boiling water canning because the equipment required is less of an investment. A boiling water canning kit will run you $20, whereas a pressure canner costs around $70-80. Plus, jams and pickles are great stepping stones into canning and can be made with the boiling water method. You can easily get creative by adding different spices, herbs, and flavors. Check out some yummy canning recipes below:

Boiling Water Method

Pressure Method

Important Note: Elevation affects the time duration of boiling water canning. Elevation affects the pressure amount of pressure canning. Be sure to read your recipe carefully to make proper adjustments!

Interested in learning more? See the great beginner resources below.

The MontGuides are easy to follow, condensed information on canning. Both include guidelines for elevation adjustments.

Historically, acidity levels of tomatoes have been high enough for boiling water canning to be the appropriate method. However, today’s tomatoes may be grown with a lower acidity level and may need to be pressure canned. If you do not wish to buy a pressure canner, read How to Acidify Tomatoes.

Finally, you can look forward to a Montana Meals video coming soon about freezing fruits & veggies; another great preservation method for keeping the flavors of summer going all year long!

Have fun trying out these recipes!

Anna

Reference:

Marco, Maria L, Dustin Heeney, Sylvie Binda, Christopher J Cifelli, Paul D Cotter, Benoit Foligné, Michael Gänzle, Remco Kort, Gonca Pasin, Anne Pihlanto, Eddy J Smid, and Robert Hutkins. “Health Benefits of Fermented Foods: Microbiota and beyond.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 44 (2017): 94-102. Web.

 

Wellchat Episode VI: The Amazing Microbiome

Episode 6: Special guest Anna Goodrum, Dietetic Intern with the Montana Dietetic Intership (MDI), joins Cristin and Neal for a discussion about the latest human microbiome research and how probiotics and prebiotics play crucial roles in our health.

The Montana Moves & Meals Wellchat is available on Itunes podcasts! Subscribe and take us with you for a walk, run, or drive!

Training Seasons

“I’m always training for something.”

My dad told me that when he played sports as a child and adolescent, there were four distinct seasons: football, basketball, track, and baseball.  He, and many of his peers, played all four all the way through high-school. The sports just changed with the seasons.

These days, this kind of sport rotation is less common, with many competitive sports lasting almost the entire year. There is also more pressure for kids to specialize in a single sport at an earlier age in order to be competitive or perhaps even win a scholarship in college some day.

However, there is some evidence in the scientific literature that suggests that this paradigm has some potential pitfalls, and that the most important thing for youth sport development is not specialization, but rather proficiency in the more broad aspects of athletics such as sprinting, jumping, agility, strength, power, and cardio-respiratory fitness. Sadly, athletes that specialize too soon are often at higher risk of burnout and injury before they even reach their prime. Above all, it seems that having fun and developing an appreciation of the games we play might have the most bearing on longevity in a sport.

I think the same concepts can be applied to adults when it comes to physical fitness and exercise. Keep in mind, when I talk about training, I’m just using a word that means preparing. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be in training. I’m always training for something, and personally, I feel mentally and physically best when my training seasons rotate.

For example, this year my training seasons have looked like this:

  • January/February: Training for MSU Master’s Mile. Training focus: strength and speedwork.
  • March-June: Training for Ride Across Montana. Focus: lots of bike volume.
  • July: Rest, recovery, and play.
  • August-October: Training for Montana Cup, my favorite cross-country race, and a couple of big hikes. Focus: trail running, hiking, speedwork, and strength.
  • November-December: Off-season/Ski Prep. Focus: general strength and conditioning plus sport-specific ski training.

For me, changing the training focus and stimulus every few months (with the seasons) keeps me fresh and motivated. I’m seldom bored or stale with my training. To be fair, it helps that I enjoy a lot of different activities, and I look forward to preparing for each one.

If you’re really into a single sport, that’s fine too. You can still change things up with cross-training and strength training. Athletes that play one sport usually divide their year into distinct categories each with separate training focuses:

  • Off-season: general strength and conditioning. High volume, low intensity.
  • Pre-season: Sport specific conditioning and skills. Moderate volume, higher intensity.
  • In-Season: Skill development, sport specific practice, competition. Low volume. Moderate to high intensity.
  • Post-season/recovery: rest, restorative activities.
    • Here’s a good example of a post-season phase from an elite athlete. One of my peers in grad-school was an Olympic distance runner. Every year, after his last track meet in the late summer, he would do nothing but play basketball for a month.  He was still being active, but he wasn’t in formal “run” training. He was just having fun and staying fit. After his month of play, when his cross-country season began in the fall, he was refreshed and ready to resume formal training.

I’m always training for something because it keeps me motivated and focused. What are you training for? Remember training=preparing. Pick your next season or event, put it on the calendar, and get after it. If you’re a hunter, you can start training now! If you’re a skier, you can start training now! If you want to drop ______ pounds by Thanksgiving, you can start training now! If you want to run a winter marathon in a warm location, you can start training now! The freedom to choose our goals and go after them is one of our greatest gifts.

Best wishes for your next season!

Neal

 

 

Power Bite Video: Weird Veggies

As fresh summertime produce continues to roll in, it’s a great time to branch out with some new recipes including some yummy, and sometimes not so common, vegetables.

For those of you participating in our online incentive program, you can get a jump on a couple of new challenges that will roll out next week (8/14), including watching the following video, and thinking about some new recipes to include in your weekly meal plan.

The latest Montana Meals video features four “weird” vegetables that may not be part of your usual veggie repertoire: kohlrabi, eggplant, tomatillos, and garlic scapes. Although sadly we are now past prime kohlrabi and garlic scape season, you can still pick up some great tips, and be well prepared for the next time you find these options!

https://vimeo.com/228099713

After knowing what to do with these weird veggies when you bring them home, the next step is to decide how exactly you want to prepare them. To help, here’s a roundup of some tasty recipes that use the four veggies described in the video. Happy Eating!

Eggplant

Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Stacks

Stuffed Eggplant

Baba Ganoush

Eggplant Caponata

Spicy Eggplant & Cauliflower with Basil

Kohlrabi

Roasted Kohlrabi

Crispy Apple & Kohlrabi Salad

Kohlrabi & Potato Puree

Kohlrabi Carrot Fritters

Kohlrabi Salad with Cilantro & Lime

Tomatillos

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Chicken with Tomatillos and Cilantro

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Soup

Nuevos Huevos Rancheritos

Tomatillo Guacamole

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scape Pesto

Grilled Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scape Salad Dressing

White Bean & Garlic Scape Dip

Double Garlic Soup

 

Become a MUS Wellness Champion!

Can you relate to any of the following statements?

“I care about the health & happiness of my coworkers.”

“I have an idea for a wellness activity that we should offer on our campus.”

“I loved participating in the Take Control program, and I wish more of my colleagues knew about it!”

If one or more of the above statements sounds like something you would say, we need you! We are currently recruiting Wellness Champions on all of our campuses for the 2017/2018 year.

New Wellness Champion application

Returning Wellness Champion application

Wellness Champions are enthusiastic supporters of health & well-being in the workplace, regardless of where they are personally on the path towards optimal well-being. In other words, to be a Wellness Champion for MUS, you don’t need to be an ultramarathoner who exercises everyday and only eats perfectly balanced meals; you just need to be someone who cares about your colleagues and wants them to lead the highest quality of life possible!  

Formal “duties” of a Wellness Champion include:

  • Keeping up to date with current Wellness program offerings.
  • Reminding your coworkers of the opportunities offered through Wellness, and promoting participation. As much as your MUS Wellness Team tries to get the message out about the programs we have available, inevitably, emails are overlooked, blog posts go unread, posters go unseen. Word of mouth remains one of our most powerful tools of communication! We cannot tell you how many times someone asks about the Take Control lifestyle management program or our Ask-an- Expert program because a coworker mentioned something about it.
  • Assisting in the implementation and coordination of wellness initiatives as able. Examples may include reserving a space for a Wellness-related activity, volunteering at an information table, or suggesting topics of interest. Wellness initiatives vary from campus to campus, and again, your level of involvement will depend on what your schedule allows. Some campuses have a group of Wellness Champions who meet on a regular basis and plan activities.
  • Representing coworkers by collecting ideas and feedback about the program. Although we consider all feedback that we receive from MUS plan members, we specifically solicit opinions from our Wellness Champions on occasion.
  • Being respectful of others’ privacy and compliant with confidentiality standards

Before you dismiss the idea of becoming a Wellness Champion because you feel swamped already with job responsibilities, keep in mind that serving effectively as a WellChamp can mean as little as reminding your coworkers that a WellCheck is coming up, and encouraging a new employee in your office to participate in the MUS Wellness Incentive Program. Or, it can mean leading a campus walking group, or organizing a monthly social event, or writing a brief grant proposal to gain funding for a campus-specific program. The beauty of serving as a Wellness Champion is that you can define what being a Wellness Champion looks like to you, and we are here to support your efforts!

As a Wellness Champion, you will receive:

  • Bi-monthly email newsletters from MUS Wellness
  • Additional email communications with pertinent updates regarding changes to the Wellness program or Benefits Plan
  • Exclusive webinars for Wellness Champions during the year
  • Special swag item for MUS WellChamps only!
  • Recognition as a Wellness Champion
  • Opportunity to offer feedback, and participate in pilot programs for Wellness

Previous WellChamps — Take note that we’ve added more structure and additional benefits to the program, so we encourage you to re-up as a Wellness Champion to be part of the best WellChamp year yet!

A person’s work environment can have a tremendous impact on overall health & well-being. Becoming a MUS Wellness Champion gives you the opportunity to make a real difference in your workplace, and have a positive impact on your coworkers. Sign up to be a 2017/2018 MUS WellChamp today!

New Wellness Champion application

Returning Wellness Champion application

Video: MUS Wellness Success Story

Last month, Limeade paid us a visit to chat with a few of our employees about MUS Wellness. Here’s how it turned out:

Your MUS Wellness team feels privileged to work for and with such amazing people like the ones featured in this video. This is just a small sampling of what’s happening all over Montana! As always, thank you to our MUS employees for committing to your personal health & well-being as well as to the culture of wellness on your campus!

Be Well!