Wellchat Episode VII: The Late Night Binge

Episode 7: Recorded previously, Cristin discusses Bluezones, the myths and realities of late-night eating, and some strategies to curb binges later in the day. Plus Neal shares some latest news regarding the MUS Wellness Incentive Program.

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

Power Bite Video: Freezing Veggies

As we head into fall and our CSA shares, home gardens, and Farmer’s market bounties of fresh fruits and veggies start to wane, don’t despair! Cristin, with the help of Montana dietetic intern Anna Goodrum, demonstrates how to freeze fresh fruits and vegetables in order to preserve those delicious foods through the winter. The simple technique of blanching is also discussed.

Freezing fresh produce is a great way to prevent food waste, and prepare for easy meals down the road.

For those of you who participate in our MUS Wellness Incentive Program, a new round of challenges will begin next week (10/2). Get a jump on one of them by watching the latest Montana Meals offering!

Happy Eating!

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

 

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!

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

 

How do you figure what is 20%?

In Episode 2 of the Montana Moves and Meals podcast, we discussed my first nutrition tenet: the 80/20 rule of moderation. This principle is meant to allow for some flexibility in one’s diet to include foods that we enjoy but that may not be great for us (the 20%), while maintaining a focus on eating for health (the 80%). By following this tenet, you lose the all-or-nothing approach to nutrition and the excuse that “the diet starts tomorrow!”

After we posted the podcast, I received the following question: “How do you figure what is 20%? 20% of the days? 20% of meals? 20% of calories?” Great question, and one that I felt deserved to be answered for everyone, not just for those who are comment readers.

First, determining the 80% vs 20% is really up to individual discretion. There are no hard and fast rules. But here’s my take:  I would say the percentages should be considered in the context of all of the food/beverage choices that you make over the course of a day. If you think about it, we make dozens of eating choices everyday – wheat bread or white? Salad or fries? Trail mix or chips? Milk or water? Opening the refrigerator door or not, etc. So, to follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of those choices are the healthy option; 20% of those choices are based purely on what you want.

I would judge the 80/20 breakdown over a day or even a couple of days as you might have entire meals that are mostly in the 80 or 20 category, but hopefully not entire days that are in the 20%. Determining the 20% doesn’t need to be an exact science; it’s more of just a basic guiding principle and reminder that most of our diet should consist of healthy foods, while still leaving room for foods that make us happy & satisfied. In fact, think broadly when considering this principle. Resist the temptation to categorize each and every food as good or bad, as it’s all too easy to extend this to a judgement about ourselves as good or bad for eating that food. We eat a variety of foods for a variety of reasons, and the food we eat has no bearing on our worth as a person. It does however, have a bearing on our health outcomes and health risks, and that’s why it’s important to prioritize healthy nutritional choices.

Hope this helps.

Happy Eating!

Cristin

 

Time to order your fresh, local summer veggies!

Although some days it still doesn’t feel like it, it’s officially spring, which means now is the time to consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs offer a weekly share of garden produce, and in some cases, additional products like eggs, meat, flowers, or canned goods, in exchange for a lump sum payment at the beginning of the growing season. This model is beneficial to both farmers and consumers. For farmers, offering CSA shares provides capital for start-of-the-season costs. For consumers, benefits come mostly in terms of nutrition and economic savings. CSA participants have been shown to eat more fruits and vegetables during the season, and therefore more health-promoting nutrients such as fiber, vitamin A, and cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients. As a CSA participant for the past 2 years, I can definitely attest to eating more veggies during the CSA season!

Even though weekly share costs may appear expensive, comparison of CSA prices with the retail value of equivalent amounts of produce have shown significant savings for the CSA participant. In fact, studies show the retail value of the produce received from a CSA share to be 120-250% the cost of the share price. If it still feels pricey, you can do as the Andrews and Stokes families have done the past couple of seasons, and split a share with another family. You can still get the benefits of fresh veggies each week, albeit less of them, at half the cost.

Finally, CSA participants also have the opportunity to form a connection with the farmer who grows their food, something that cannot be done with store-bought produce. Some CSA farms also offer volunteer opportunities or member events to further promote a sense of community.

Participation in a CSA does involve shared risk. There are no guarantees if a hail storm wipes out half of the garden. However, most farmers want to provide CSA members with good value for their participation and will prioritize the CSA shares if produce is scarce.

Several MUS campuses offer CSA programs in conjunction with a campus farm, and all are recruiting participants now. You can also search Local Harvest for a CSA located near you. Check out the info below and sign up today!

townes harvest

fvcc csa

Happy Eating!

Cristin