Home Fermentation Video Series

Back in the fall, MUS Wellness hosted dietetic intern StephTarnacki, and together we created two videos introducing home fermentation. If you participate in our MUS Wellness Incentive Program, you may have already caught the one on kombucha. We wanted to post it again, along with a brand new video featuring how to make your own sauerkraut. Home fermentation is easy, saves you money, can help prevent food waste, and provides a tasty alternative to some of the regular foods you eat. Fermented foods are also packed with probiotics, the good kind of bacteria that live in our digestive tract. Eating foods rich in probiotics may improve digestion, boost your immune system, promote a healthy weight, and may even improve some mental health conditions.

Enjoy!  —Cristin.

Very Healthy Competition

Kudos to our Bozeman and Missoula communities, who set more records this year in their annual Can the Griz/Can the Cats Food drive competition.  Over 850,000 lbs of food and funds were collected this year between the two communities, with each receiving record donations to their local food banks. Amazing!

MUS Wellness was able to contribute a small portion, as Montana State put together a team for the annual Huffing for Stuffing Thanksgiving Day run. We had 102 members on our team, which turned out to be the largest team in Huffing for Stuffing history! MUS Wellness donated $500 to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank on behalf of our Wellness team. 

Members of the MSU Huffing for Stuffing Wellness team, ready to smoke the turkey!

This is another reminder of how outstanding our Montana communities are! It feels great to live in a place where everyone pulls together to make where we live and work healthier and happier!

Thanks to all who gave, ran, and volunteered!

MUS Wellness

The Good Enough Diet

My baby boy turned one year old last week. Birthdays have always been a natural time of reflection, and my son’s birthday was no exception. My husband and I found ourselves reminiscing a lot about the past year; talking about the enormous challenges of becoming parents for the first time, the incredible joys, the sleepless nights, the embarrassing moments, and the times that made us laugh, cry, and everything in between.

Needless to say, becoming a parent has profoundly changed me. And one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is my general approach to life, specifically my perfectionism. Perhaps academically, perfectionism is an asset, but in all other ways, I find it’s a difficult, daily struggle. However, now as a parent, there’s simply not enough time, nor do I have enough energy, to devote to trying to be perfect, which of course is an impossible task anyway! Taking care of a little human being has demanded that I prioritize in a way I never have before, and accept as a success when something is simply “good enough”.

In fact, this “good enough” concept has become somewhat of a mantra for me, albeit unintentionally. When feeling inadequate as a mom, I began reminding myself that I just have to be good enough; good enough that my child is taken care of and feels loved. When I am feeling guilty for skipping the gym for the 4th day in a row, I take a walk outside and remind myself that it’s good enough; good enough for health and stress reduction in this phase of my life. When I see piles of laundry and floors that haven’t been swept in a week, I put in one load of laundry, pick up the obvious piles of dog hair, and I remind myself that it’s good enough; good enough that my house isn’t in complete shambles.

This good enough concept easily extends to diet as well, and this is actually something that I’ve been practicing for much longer than just my last year of non-perfectionism. I talk frequently about the 80/20 rule of moderation, which is another way of saying and affirming that perfectionism and diet don’t pair well. 

How many times have you given up on a diet because you ate one off-plan food? “I already screwed up”, you might think, “so it doesn’t matter now!” And maybe you go from having one extra drink at happy hour to a whole weekend of indulgent food and drinks. Or maybe you don’t even want to try eating a healthier diet, because you know you can’t live up to that stringent paleo/no-added-sugar diet your friend or co-worker is touting.

The “good enough” diet is different. Eating good enough means healthy changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life instead of dramatic shifts you stick to for just 14 or 30 or 60 days. Cutting your overall added sugar intake by 25% for good is much more powerful than doing a zero-sugar challenge for two weeks.

A belief in the  “good enough” diet is what led Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN to develop the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program, and it’s why I’m such a proponent of the program.

Unlike other 30-day nutrition “boot camps,” the 30 Day Nutrition Upgrade doesn’t ask you to eliminate entire food groups or follow a rigid or restrictive protocol. You don’t have to avoid restaurants, cancel social plans, or pack special food to bring with you everywhere. You’ll just keep on living your regular life, only a little bit healthier.

The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade features the Nutrition GPA™ app, which was recently named by the New York Times as one of 4 best food tracking apps! Each day, you answer 10 yes-or-no questions about your diet and get a grade for the day. Your daily grades are then averaged to reveal your Nutrition Grade Point Average (GPA).

There’s no grade inflation here; we’re not aiming for an A. We’re aiming for a solid B. Because a good-enough diet is healthier than a “perfect” diet followed by a reactionary binge.

As simple and fun as it is, the Nutrition GPA is a powerful tool. As one recent Nutrition Upgrader wrote: “Good news: One D day does not shift my GPA all that much. Bad news: One A day does not shift my GPA all that much. It really is the pattern of your eating on most days!”

The best part is that when we get to the end of the 30 days, you won’t be celebrating that it’s over. On day 31, you’ll be thinking, “Hey, that was easy! And I feel great! Let’s keep going!

The next 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade for MUS is kicking off this Friday, October 12th and there are still spots open! Come join us! We can’t wait for you to throw unattainable perfection to the curb and embrace the “good enough” diet. 

Happy “Good Enough” Eating,

Cristin

You must be a MUS Benefits Plan member to participate in the Nutrition Upgrade for MUS. For our blog readers who are not MUS Benefits Plan members, you can sign up here for the next Nutrition Upgrade for the general public, beginning October 19th.

 

 

30-Day Nutrition Upgrade — It’s Back!!

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:
    • More veggies
    • Better snacking
    • More legumes
    • Better planning
    • Less sugar
  • 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 information here or email me at cristin.stokes@montana.edu

Wellchat Episode XIX: Intuitive Eating

Episode 19: Cristin Stokes chats with Montana Dietetic Intern Steph Tarnacki about Intuitive Eating: an alternative to constant dieting, and a healthy practice for all of us.

 

Here are some additional resources to learn more about the practice of Intuitive Eating:

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

The Incredible Edible Eggplant

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggplant sliced 1/4″ thick (you’ll need 12 slices)
  • Salt
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 (8 ounce) box Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) package fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Cooking spray

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Recipe by: Valerie’s Kitchen

BABA GANOUSH

INGREDIENTS

  • 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)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • 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

baba-ganoush-1271630_1280
Baba Ganoush

RATATOUILLE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large (1.25 lb) eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  • 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.

Recipe by: Jenn Segal

And a few other recipe links that look tasty:

Caponata

Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Hoisin Glazed Eggplant

Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini, and Chickpea Wraps

Hopefully these recipes can help you add some eggplant to your life! Please share more of your favorite eggplant recipes!

Steph

Sources:

  1. https://draxe.com/eggplant-nutrition/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X0000202X

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

Ingredients

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

Directions:

  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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  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!

Cristin

 

 

Wellchat Episode 13: The Nutrition Diva and the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade

Episode 13: Cristin interviews the “Nutrition Diva” Monica Reinagel about her collaboration with MUS and the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade™, beginning April 9th.

If you weren’t able to register in time for this round, we’re optimistic about offering a second round in the near future!

 

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

30-Day Nutrition Upgrade for MUS

It was at a meeting of local dietitians many years ago that I first heard of Monica Reinagel. Another dietitian was raving about a podcast called The Nutrition Diva, and always on the lookout for good resources, I went home and checked it out. The Nutrition Diva is a podcast produced by nutritionist Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, and after listening to a couple of episodes, and then reading many of her blog posts, I, too, became hooked. Monica’s approach to nutrition was refreshing. Evidenced-based, practical, and relevant, her blog quickly became one of my go-to resources. Other people and organizations also recognize Monica as a trusted nutrition professional; she’s a regular guest on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR’s Morning Edition, and has been interviewed and quoted in numerous publications.

A couple of years ago, I saw Monica was offering a group nutrition coaching program called the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade™, an original program that she had developed. The program uses the Nutrition GPA (Grade Point Average) app as a way to track dietary intake. However, unlike the tedious process of entering foods and portion sizes that most diet trackers require, this app consists of 10 yes or no questions about what you ate that day. You can answer the 10 questions in under 2 minutes. While I didn’t hesitate to join the program because I wanted to see what it was about, I admit that I didn’t have particularly high expectations. As a dietitian, I already knew what I should be eating, right?

Day 1: I scored a D. That’s a D based on a regular A through F academic scale. Yikes! For a dietitian, as well as a person who prided herself on earning top grades during school, this was disappointing to say the least. 

Day 2-30: I actively worked to improve my cumulative GPA. I still had a couple of D days and even an F day, but overall the trend was positive, and I reached a point at which I was consistently earning a decent grade, usually a B or better. But I quickly found that it wasn’t just about the grade. On those days that I earned an A or B; I truly felt better. My natural tendency to snack all of the time lessened, and my energy level was steadier. I was able to reign in my sweet tooth without feeling deprived. Here’s what else I liked about the program: it was simple, scientifically-based, it did not prescribe a meal plan or require hours of prep time or special foods, and there were no forbidden foods. It encouraged a realistic and sustainable way of eating. I also found the online community that was part of the program to be surprisingly helpful and supportive.

Day 31+: Despite my modest expectations to start, I truly believe that after completing the 30 Day Nutrition Upgrade™, my dietary habits changed for the better. And even more impressive is that nearly two years after completing the program, I still consider the ten questions when I’m making my food choices. While I can’t say that this program eliminated all of my cravings for chocolate, sweetened cereals, and French fries, I can say that I’m eating more vegetables, more omega-3’s, more fermented foods, and when I do indulge in some not-so-great for you foods, I am thinking more about how to balance out the rest of my eating day. 

But I’m not just telling this story for the sake of a story. After completing the program, I kept thinking about how beneficial it would be for MUS plan members to participate in the Nutrition Upgrade as well. So I reached out to Monica, and (drumroll please)…I am thrilled to announce that MUS Wellness is partnering with Monica to offer the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade™ specifically for MUS Benefits Plan members this spring! This is the first time that the program will be offered to a specific group rather than the general public, so we thought it’d be fun to add a little friendly team competition to the mix too! The program will run April 9th through May 8th at a reduced cost of $10/person (savings of $30 off the regular price). In addition to a live online kick-off and two live online check-ins throughout the program, MUS participants will be invited to join a private Facebook group for ongoing support. Plus, participants will have access to downloadable handouts and other program materials.

So, to all of you MUS plan members, this is an amazing opportunity to improve your nutrition habits, to do so along with your coworkers, and have the support of Monica Reinagel and myself. Registration will open Tuesday, March 20th — mark your calendars and watch for an email from your campus Human Resources or Wellness contact. For our blog readers who are not MUS Benefits Plan members, you can sign up here for the next Nutrition Upgrade for the general public, also beginning April 9th.
If you have questions about the program, check out the information here or email me at cristin.stokes@montana.edu

30 day with wellness man

National Nutrition Month: Go Further with Food

It’s March. Finally. Pat yourself on the back–you’ve almost made it through another very snowy and icy winter! Along with the (hopeful) arrival of spring, there are lots of other reasons to be excited for March, including:  

  • More daylight (Spring forward on March 11th)
  • Spring break (for many of you)
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • March Madness
  • And most exciting of all…March is National Nutrition Month! Hooray!

The 2018 theme for National Nutrition Month, designated by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, is Go Further with Food. According to the Academy, this theme serves as “a reminder to eat healthfully for ongoing energy and plan meals and snacks in advance to help reduce food loss and waste.”

One of our past dietetic interns, Kelsey Tanner, wrote an excellent piece about reducing food waste, and in it, she too suggested meal planning as an important strategy for wasting less food.

Meal planning used to be something that I found really helpful, but now that I’m a working mom with a 5-month old, meal planning is essential. With much less time and energy after work, in order for my family to eat healthy, balanced meals, it’s critical to have ingredients on hand and something planned in advanced. While I’ve written before about my meal planning tips, since becoming more consistent than ever with my personal meal planning routine, I’ve rediscovered some of my favorite tools that I thought I’d share with all of you:

  • Weekly meal planning tear-off notepad. While I received mine as a gift, it’s similar to this one. It’s simple. It’s pretty. It has lots of space to write and make notes. It’s backed with large magnets so it sticks to the side of the fridge where both my husband and I can easily reference it. Each Saturday, I tear off the week that’s gone by, and use the back to write my grocery list for the upcoming week, organized according to how my grocery store is laid out: Produce, Refrigerated, Frozen, Canned/Dry, and Bread.
  • Budget Bytes cookbook. I have dozens of cookbooks on hand, but Budget Bytes has been a favorite of mine lately. It’s a great book not only because the recipes are cost-effective, but because they also taste wonderfully, user fewer ingredients than many other recipes, rely solidly on pantry staples, and are relatively quick to prepare. The author, Beth Moncel, has a recipe website too. One of my recent favorites is her Greek Turkey Burgers.
  • Cooking Light subscription. Yes, you can find all of the Cooking Light recipes online, but I love the tactile experience of paging through a Cooking Light magazine, ogling over the pretty pictures, and selecting one or two recipes every week to incorporate into my plan. I’ve had some major recipe fails from online blogs, Pinterest, and some cookbooks, but I have yet to make a Cooking Light recipe that wasn’t at least ok. Most are delicious, and they’re good for you.
  • Slow cooker. Oh how I love coming home to a house that smells amazing and to a meal that is nearly complete. It’s also nice to have extra time in the evening that would normally be taken up with cooking dinner. I typically plan at least one weeknight meal for the slow cooker. Here are a few slow cooker recipes that I’ve been enjoying:
  • Roasting pan. Ok, maybe it’s a stretch to call this a meal planning tool, but I’ve been really, really into roasted vegetables lately, so I had to include it anyway! The combination of roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes is amazing, and makes an awesome side for just about anything. Make more than you need for one meal, and you can have roasted veggies on salads, in wraps, as a snack, or even for breakfast.

And with that, I encourage all of you to take moment this week to think about how you can . Perhaps set a nutrition-related goal for this month in honor of National Nutrition Month. Or consider making a small investment into a meal planning or prep tool like the ones above that will inspire you to stay motivated and consistent. It’s amazing how something like a fun meal planning notepad or good cookbook can help turn what might be considered a chore into an enjoyable task.

Also this month, check out your campus eateries for National Nutrition Month happenings! The dining halls and some of the SUB restaurants here in Bozeman have designated each day of the week with a nutrition special. See below for details:

2018-03-02_09h50_36
Specials this month at MSU Bozeman SUB restaurants. Check your campus for any specials going on this month in conjunction with National Nutrition Month!

Happy National Nutrition Month!

CS