I’m getting ready for a 3-week state tour during the heart of Wellcheck season. Over the next 3 weeks, MUS Wellness will be sponsoring a dozen workshops covering a whole spectrum of health & wellness related topics. I’m excited about teaching, and in many cases, learning, from all these workshops! And I’m also excited to visit our different MUS campuses and see you guys!
There are still spots available, so register today before they fill up! Check out the schedule below, and click here for a PDF version with registration links.
Last April, we offered a pilot program of the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade to 130 MUS Benefits Plan members. The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade, developed by nutrition expert Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS, is a simple, yet highly effective way to reshape your eating habits and boost your nutrition. The program requires only about two minutes a day and can be effortlessly incorporated into any daily routine. It’s not a diet or a detox, and there are no forbidden foods.
At the conclusion of the pilot program, we collected feedback from our MUS participants, and here’s what we found:
97% of participants made a positive change to eating habits as a result of the program!
The most commonly cited dietary changes that participants made included:
Many participants reported more energy/improved mood, fewer digestive issues, enjoying their food more, and weight loss (even though weight loss is not a focus of the program).
In addition, here’s what two participants specifically said about the Upgrade:
“…I am always wary of diets and so many extreme approaches to nutrition that are out there. I’ve wanted more structure to help improve my nutrition, but have been afraid of falling into the obsessive diet traps. I loved the balanced and non-restrictive nature of the program.”
“I felt that the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade was an amazing experience. It’s a wonderful addition to the MUS Wellness Program, and I would recommend the Upgrade to anyone!”
Due to the success of the pilot program, we are thrilled to announce that the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade for MUS is back! We will offer the program again this fall, beginning Friday, October 12th at a cost of $10/person (savings of $30 off the regular price). Included in the program:
Live one-hour online kickoff, plus access to a video recording of the session afterwards
Nutrition GPA app for iOS or Android
Downloadable handouts and other program materials
Two live check-ins midway through the program
Frequent communication and support from program leaders, Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, and Cristin Stokes, RDN, LN
Private Facebook group for Montana University System participants for ongoing connection and support
To learn more about the program, and read about Cristin’s personal experience, click here.
The program is open to all MUS Benefits Plan members, including spouses and dependents over 18 years old, and registration opens Tuesday, October 2nd. Mark your calendars and watch for an email from your campus Human Resources or Wellness contact on that morning! If you have questions about the program, check out the informationhere or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
MUS Wellness again has the honor of hosting a dietetic intern for two weeks from the Montana Dietetic Internship program. This year’s intern is Steph Tarnacki. Steph earned her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado, and aspires to work as a dietitian in the public school system to improve the National School Lunch Program, provide nutrition education, and establish more Farm to School Programs. We had a reader request for eggplant recipes following our recent post about zucchini, so on day one with us, I asked Steph to write about her favorite ways to prepare eggplant, and she happily obliged. Please welcome Steph Tarnacki as our guest blog writer:
Late August in Montana – the sun shines bright against a foreshadowing chill in the air, the critters bustle and scavenge for food in preparation of the long winter to come, and the gardens burst with deep purple eggplants!
Eggplants, a member of the nightshade family, are known for their slightly bitter taste, and spongy texture. Their roots trace back to Asia, where you can find over 13 varieties! Rich in the antioxidant nasunin, eggplants help protect against harmful free radicals and, most importantly, protect the fats in brain cell membranes. Talk about some delicious brain food! Nasunin also reduces inflammation, helps our body remove toxic waste, and may help stave off cancer, heart disease and arthritis.1, 2
Eggplants are low in calories, high in fiber and also pack a punch in the vitamin department – rich in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin K.
So, how can you incorporate more eggplants into your life? Here are a few of my favorite recipes!
BAKED EGGPLANT PARMESAN
3 eggplant sliced 1/4″ thick (you’ll need 12 slices)
3 eggs beaten
1 (8 ounce) box Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant. Layer the slices in a colander and place the colander in your sink. Place a heavy dish or pan over the top to press them down. Allow to sweat for 30 to 45 minutes. Rinse well with cold water to remove salt and blot dry with paper towels
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet generously with cooking spray. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs down with fingers if needed to cover evenly. Place in a single layer on oiled baking sheet and lightly spray tops of breaded eggplant with cooking spray.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes then carefully flip each slice and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
In a 9×13 inch baking dish spread just enough marinara to cover bottom of dish. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Cover each slice with a spoon full of marinara, a slice or two of mozzarella, and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat with one more layer. Pour any leftover marinara and around edges of eggplant slices and top with any cheese that is left. Sprinkle basil on top.
Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Recipe by: Valerie’s Kitchen
Olive oil (for grill and drizzling)
2 pounds Italian eggplants (4 medium)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
½ garlic clove, finely grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sumac, za’atar, crushed red pepper flakes, or Aleppo pepper; grilled flatbreads or pita bread (for serving)
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; lightly oil grate. Grill eggplant, turning occasionally, until skin is charred and flesh is fork-tender, 25–35 minutes. (Alternatively, you can tuck vegetables into coals left over from grilling something else. Wait until charcoal is completely covered with ash and no black spots remain. Shake grill to knock excess ash off coal, then rake them around and pile them up around vegetables.) Let cool slightly.
Halve eggplant, scoop flesh into a colander set over a bowl, and let drain at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour; discard liquid.
Pulse eggplant along with lemon juice, tahini, and garlic in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle baba ghanoush with oil and top as desired. Serve with flatbreads or pita bread.
Recipe by NYT Cooking
1 large (1.25 lb) eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 medium zucchini (about 1 lb), cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
5 large vine-ripened tomatoes (1.75 lb), cut into 1/3-inch cubes, with their juices
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, plus more for serving
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to another plate and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pain. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and transfer to a plate; set aside.
Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 3 minutes more. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, thyme, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down into a sauce, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked eggplant to the pan; bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until just warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh basil and thyme, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired, and serve warm or chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Episode 18: Neal and Cristin share their favorite “Happy Place” submissions in the current MUS Wellness “Share Your Happy Place” challenge, plus the latest MUS Wellness news as we head into the fall semester.
The Montana Moves & Meals Wellchat is available on Itunes podcasts! Subscribe and take us with you for a walk, run, or drive!
The summer flew by quickly, as it always does in Montana, and many of us are settling in, anticipating the arrival of students, and trying to get organized and ready to launch into the new fall semester.
For those of us who work in education, have kids returning to school, or both, fall has a New Year’s-like feel, as we get back into set routines, whether they are familiar or fresh.
And much like New Year’s, if you’re feeling like you need a little freshness in your exercise routine, this time of year often offers a great opportunity to try out new things. One of the best ways to branch out and get fit, especially if you need a little coaching, is to try out a new group fitness class or two.
I wanted to highlight some of the opportunities happening next week on a few of our largest MUS campuses.
The Hosaeus Fitness Center at MSU Bozeman gets their fall GX schedule underway Monday, August 27th. MSU Faculty/Staff can attend GX classes at no extra charge, as they are a part of your Fitness Center membership.
Check out the Hosaeus Fitness Center Fall schedule here.
UM Campus Recreation is also is hosting a Free week August 27-31, which includes all group fitness classes, body composition measures, and fitness consultations with a personal trainer. What a great opportunity!
The Montana Tech Wellness Champions wrote a Wellness Grant to bring Wellness classes to Tech, and those classes will be restarting on Monday, August 27th.
Yoga is offered on Mondays, and Pilates on Wednesdays and Fridays. Both classes are in the HRER Dance Studio from 12-1pm.
Great Falls College recently made some improvements to their Wellness Room, so if you’re a GFC-MSU employee, be sure to check that out!
If you belong to a private gym or fitness club, chances are they are running some special classes this time of year as well–so be on the lookout!
Be sure to take advantage of new opportunities for health and wellness as we begin this new semester together!
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 can green enchilada sauce
1 cup part-skim mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, deseed.
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.
Turn zucchini flesh side up in baking pan. Carve out additional trough in zucchini.
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)
Drizzle desired amount of green enchilada sauce over zucchini filling.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over filling.
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
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute zucchini until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.
Season zucchini with oregano and basil.
Add tomato sauce; cook and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over zucchini mixture.
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
Mix all together in bowl. Pour in large buttered pie dish & bake at 350 for 30-45 min until it starts to brown.
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
Mix the ground meat with the shredded zucchini.
Shape into five hamburger patties and season with salt and pepper or Mrs. Dash.
This one is for all of you participating in our current “Get to the Core” challenge as part of the MUS Wellness Incentive Program. If you’ve been cranking out those planks and increasing your core strength over the past few weeks, our latest Montana Moves video gives you some ideas about how to kick it up to the next level of fitness and fun. Happy Friday! Enjoy!
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 the perfect picture of health; 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 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
Special swag item for MUS WellChamps only!
Recognition as a Wellness Champion
Opportunity to offer feedback about the Wellness Program
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 2018/2019 MUS WellChamp today!
Episode 17: After catching up since the previous Wellchat, Neal and Cristin share several interviews from MSU Bike to Work Day in June, and discuss how commuters of all types can arrive at work safe and happy. Recorded 7/10/18
The Montana Moves & Meals Wellchat is available on Itunes podcasts! Subscribe and take us with you for a walk, run, or drive!