I was meandering through the grocery store on Friday morning thinking about how I feel stuck in a rut. My shopping trips are feeling like my COVID-restricted life. My enthusiasm for trying new things has been well below normal, and my food choices reflect that lack of enthusiasm.
Well, it’s time to change things up a bit!
In the produce aisle I spotted eggplants, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash. I like all of these but I’m the only one in the family who does. I thought, “heck, it’s time to treat myself this weekend. I’ll buy all of them and figure out what to do with these ingredients.”
The eggplant brought me back to my childhood. My mom fried it up to upscale traditional tomato-based pasta. On special occasions, the eggplant was made into a parmigiana or into a caponata.
So, a modernized caponata was my choice this weekend. I subbed the traditional sweetness of raisins with the sweet potatoes and simplified it with fewer ingredients. Here’s the recipe. Hope you try it and enjoy it.
Ingredients for Roasting:
1 medium eggplant
1 small sweet potato
5 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Ingredients for Dressing:
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (dark or white)
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
Slice eggplant and soak in salted water for about 30 minutes.
Slice sweet potatoes into thick slices and set aside for roasting.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Drain water from eggplants and lay eggplant and sweet potato slices on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Drizzle 5 teaspoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
On another cookie sheet, place sliced almonds.
Roast eggplant and potato for 40 minutes. Turn once half way through baking.
Roast sliced almonds for 3-5 minutes while other veggies are roasting. Pay close attention to the almonds. They will burn quickly.
When cooled, cut eggplant and sweet potato into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Add roasted almonds.
Prepare dressing by combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup and a sprinkle a touch more of salt & pepper.
Toss into bowl of eggplant and sweet potato. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Serve as a side dish. Have it as a snack with whole grain crackers.
If you want to want to make it a meal, heat up the eggplant salad and serve it on steamed spaghetti squash that has been pan sautéed with a touch of olive oil, onions and mushrooms.
Note: Our last post was December 2017. In many ways, 2018 and 2019 were a blur. Mary and I had some big changes in our lives that led to less time for blogging.
We are back…for now!
These are strange times, indeed! COVID-19 has impacted all of us around the globe. We are seeing more people pushed to their limits. Each of us handles stress in different ways and we each have varying tolerance for stress.
We all know that we need to exercise, eat nutritious food, and get plenty of sleep for physical and emotional wellbeing. Is anybody following these recommendations through these trying times?
Not sure about the rest of you, but having my gym closed is driving me bonkers! If you’ve shopped at your local grocery store you’ve probably seen the canned goods aisles empty. Those nonperishables have enough sodium to fill the ocean! How about your sleep? We’re all home trying to get work done or we’re worrying about where the next paycheck is coming. Anyone having restful sleeps? Are you achieving that much needed REM stage to clear our brains? See more on this here.
Exercise – #1 Task
As we all settle into a new normal during ‘stay at home’ orders, setting up routines is critical to following through on what’s important for one’s wellbeing.
The first task Mary and I have tackled is exercise! You can set up in-house exercise routines or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a Peleton bike or your own in-home gym. For the rest of us, getting outdoors for a little heart-pumping activity is the best option.
For at home exercise activities, search our blog with the words “fitness”, “home workout”, “workouts”. You’ll find a few to reference and try.
Wanna give running a try?
Thankfully, where we live we are allowed to go out to exercise as long as we keep our distance from others. Running has always been my go-to activity. Heading out the door at 6 am is optimal since there are very few people around and I have the road to myself.
Running isn’t for everyone. If you have injuries, a heart condition, knee issues, plantar fasciitis, or back problems, please consult a doctor before starting a running routine.
For the rest of you, if you want to give running a try, here are some pointers on how to get started. Below is a blog that we posted in ethicalDeal a few years ago.
“Do not give up when it gets tough. It gets better. And it will be the best feeling in the world to say you are a runner.”
Runner’s World Challenger John McNasby
Running is a sport that people either love or hate. For some people it’s a love/hate relationship that lasts a lifetime.
With practice and patience, people of all shapes and sizes can run. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise plan and if you’re ready, read on.
Begin to run by alternating running and walking. For example, run for 1 minute and then walk for 1 minute; repeat this sequence for 20 minutes. Every two weeks, change the run-to-walk ratio by adding 1 minute to the run, i.e. first 2:1 and then 3:1 and so on, until you run the entire 20 minutes. Aim to run 2 to 3 times per week.
Once comfortable with running 20 minutes, build your cardiovascular endurance by adding 10% more running time weekly or bi-weekly. So, to 20 minutes, add 2 minutes (10% of 20) and then 10% more until you get to your targeted running time.
Focus on form
Now that you have established a running base, pay attention to your form. Proper running form helps you run more efficiently, while reducing potential injuries.
Stand tall with shoulders square and head, neck and shoulders loose.
Gaze straight ahead, eye level with horizon.
Keep arms comfortably by your side, bent at 45 to 90 degrees.
Lightly clench fists, touching fingers to palms.
With motion coming from shoulder joint, move arms forward and back, not crossing in front of the body.
Take comfortable strides, not too short or too long, keeping feet directly below. Feet should not be visible to you when running.
Lightly plant entire foot on ground before rolling to balls of feet to push forward.
As a natural spring, use ankle as first striking point on the ground as it allows body to move forward.
Take deep breaths to maximize oxygen intake. Inhale and exhale in rhythm with your strides by breathing in with nose and out with mouth.
Okay, the above is a long list to remember. These movements become second nature with practice.
Build muscle endurance
To keep improving your running, work on strengthening muscles. Stronger legs, core and upper body deliver more power so you can run longer with less effort.
Incorporate simple strengthening exercises into your fitness routine. Examples include walking lunges, squats, single leg dead lifts, planks, medicine ball twists, supermen, single arm rows, single arm shoulder presses, and push ups. Consult with a personal trainer to learn proper form. Mostof these can be done with exercise bands, dumbbells or with your own bodyweight (especially important to note if you’re shut out of your gym)
Finally, think positive thoughts. Some days, running feels dreadful! Look forward to your runs by enjoying your surroundings, celebrating the extra miles run, or running with a friend (but keep your distance). Set your time, set your GPS watch, and see how far your beautifully strong body can take you.