Eggplant Sandwich

This is my version of an eggplant-and-mozzarella “sandwich” you’d find in an Italian food shop.

The Italian eggplant arrived in the CSA box. I cut it into “coins” brushed each coin with EVOO and grilled them on the stove.

The oven I bought last Labor Day has a fifth burner that has a grill pan you can use above the oval burner.

I used the grill pan on the fifth burner to grill the eggplant coins for about 7 to 9 minutes or so. I didn’t keep track of the time. I viewed the coins to see when they were golden brown. I turned each coin over halfway through.

The mozzarella I used alternating with the eggplant to make a sandwich was the Galbani fresh mozzarella that comes sliced.

Again I don’t like to have a lot of cheese because doing so can elevate your LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

Bok Choy Joy

This is the first time I’ve cooked and eaten Bok choy. The vegetable was part of the CSA box I bought for this week’s dinners.

I used one head of Bok choy and could’ve used 2 heads. The recipe is tasty and I will feature it in a coming blog entry in the future.

With a ton of tasty vegetables on offer year-round I say: ditch the meat. Produce sold in-season is cheaper.

Colorful veggies are happy food. Feel-good greens can give you benefits instead of reaching for vitamins.

A lot of people take vitamins and that is their choice. I stopped taking supplements years ago.

In my estimation I think the decision comes down to what each of us as an individual needs to nourish our bodies.

Which might be different from the advice an expert peddles to the masses.

However I do adhere to some guidelines and I’ll talk about these guidelines in the future.

Caprese Salad

The Caprese salad above I had for dinner one night.

You’re not supposed to eat cheese. I read somewhere that the production of cheese contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

I don’t have cheese often and it’s because having a lot of cheese can elevate your LDL–the bad cholesterol in your body.

I would like to publish a cookbook one day. It wouldn’t be a vegan cookbook.

There are ethical reasons for being a vegan.

Whatever eating plan a person adheres I stand by my life motto: No Judgments.

In one way I have done something differently: I rarely eat chicken and fish anymore. I usually have scallops for seafood and often shrimp.

More often than not I cook vegetables for dinner.

Simply reducing your reliance on food like meat that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions will go a long way in promoting self-health and the health of the planet.

I’m not going to sit around judging what people do though.

I have no desire to be an eco-cop policing people or an enviro-vigilante.

Human beings are doing the best we can with what we were given.

Even the buzzword “plant-based” should be enough of a change to make.

The blog entry coming up features another vegetable dinner that I used CSA box produce to cook.

This Week’s Food

For $12.99 I bought the tomatoes in the box below:

For $29.99 I bought a CSA box of organic vegetables as follows:

Jalapeno Peppers

Orange Carrots

Red Beets

Roma Tomatoes

Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes

Sweet Onions

Baby Green Bok Choy

Italian Eggplant

I used the CSA box food plus bought heads of Boston lettuce to make a salad for dinner to start off the week.

The Bok choy I’ll have for lunch on Tuesday.

Photos are to follow of the meals I created with the food.

2020 SNAP Challenge

In 2018 and 2019 the Beyond Hunger organization hosted SNAP challenges.

A person who was well-off was challenged to use the customary SNAP benefit to buy food for one week.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is commonly called by its former name: food stamps.

The most recent challenge allocated participants to use $31.22 per person per week for 7 days total.

That comes out to about $4.46 per person per day.

Some rules apply:

The food cannot be bought at big box retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club.

You can use your own condiments and spices.

In most regards other than these two rules you must make do on $31.22 as one person for 7 days.

I’m not going to be able to meet this standard for a number of reasons:

First I have groceries ordered from FreshDirect which doesn’t accept SNAP benefits for payment.

Second the standard is impossible to live up to when you want to eat healthful food.

As it is for my lunch at my job I spend about $5.00 per day on food from a deli counter at a market.

This food is often a half-pound of beet salad or a Sicilian tomato-and-0nion salad or a container of soup.

The point is that people in America are going hungry.

I order 2 $5 donations–$10 total–with my groceries order so that the NY Common Pantry can give 4 pantry meals each to two people.

I have been “buying” this donation with my groceries since the start of June.

FreshDirect employees package the food and help deliver the boxes to people in need in New York City.

This as a humanitarian response to the food insecurity individuals started to face during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a modified version of the SNAP challenge I’m going to photograph and document in the blog how I spent $29.99–$30 dollars in effect–on food this week.

The fact is–regardless of anyone’s political persuasion–we cannot continue to rob Americans living in poverty of their right to have enough money to buy food.

That people go hungry is a crime.

Again–giving every American a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month–would go a long way in terms of food justice.

Andrew Yang–who dropped out of the Democratic race for president–was my choice because his policy platform included a Universal Basic Income.

Spring Cleaning in the Pandemic

This is how I define the fancy word self-determination:

The right to choose how you want to live your life.

It’s as simple as that.

After the pandemic ends will you want to remain in a soul-sucking job?

Will you want to continue in an unhealthy relationship?

I say: time’s up on the status quo.

It’s time for each of us to decide for ourselves the kind of life we want to live, who we want to have in our lives, and what ideals we want to carry with us into the future.

I’m going to spring clean my mind with the help of a therapist to get rid of the weedy and overgrown thoughts that held me back.

My goal is to publish 2 books in 2021.

While everything has shut down and our lives have appeared to come to a halt:

It’s the perfect time to do spring cleaning.

“Out with the old–in with the new” rings truer today if you ask me.

August Salad Days

My goal is to return to having a salad for lunch at least three days and ideally four days a week.

In the heat a salad can’t be beat as a great no-cook choice for lunch or dinner.

The key to liking your leafy greens is to toss in a ton of extras for texture.

A salad chock full of crunch tastes better too.

I buy Boston lettuce.

Salad toppings:

diced onions

diced carrots

blueberries or raspberries

chickpeas

olives

cashews (you can use walnuts or almonds)

Other extras:

peppers

avocado

feta cheese

hard-boiled egg slices

mushrooms

corn

My preferred dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

When it’s hot you should turn on the air conditioner if you have one.

It can be hard to get the motivation to cook or to compose a salad when you’re living indoors.

It can be hard to exercise or to do a lot of things when your joy has tanked.

My take is that it might help to use the “if/then” technique.

Link an activity to the time of day you’re going to do it as in:

If it’s 2:00 on a Sunday I’ll exercise. If it’s noon on a day I’m off I’ll make a salad.

Years ago I used to show up to the gym regular like clockwork between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. every Sunday without fail.

Of course this might be harder to accomplish when you have no energy.

Anxiety and depression have been on the rise in the time of the pandemic.

This is no joke. That’s why cutting yourself a break is warranted.

This is why making a salad when you can’t cook is perfectly fine.

I find that holding myself accountable to my readers enables me to practice what I preach.

The choir keeps me going.

The Biggest Exercise Myth

I would say that the biggest exercise myth is that you have to do aerobic exercise 5 times a week for an hour at a time.

I’ve been using my life experiences to tell stories to empower readers to embark on their own self-improvement projects.

This blog entry will talk about my own fitness odyssey.

I used to do Zumba and then I stopped.

In 2011 when I turned 46 I started lifting weights at the gym. Before that I hadn’t lifted one 5 pound dumbbell. In January 2014 three years later I could dead lift 205 pounds with the trap bar.

Since 2011 I’ve been lifting weights. Since June 2019 I’ve been doing the workout routines on the hardwood floor in my living room.

I’ve had 4 personal trainers at the gym so far. The last two have been phenomenal. The trainer I have now is just as great as the one before him who left the gym.

My M.O.: I meet with the trainer. He writes on a sheet of paper two exercise routines: an Upper Body at the top and a Lower Body at the bottom. At the end of each routine is core and cardio work.

For 8 to 10 weeks I do the workouts on my own alternating the UB and LB sessions.

Then I return to the gym so the trainer can write out a new routine. I do this routine. And then he gives me another new routine. And so on.

I’ve been fortunate that the trainers at my gym are impressed with my determination to lift weights on my own consistently with their ongoing help.

Right now for the last 2 years I’ve lifted weights mostly 2x per week for 30 to 45 minutes in each session.

In 2011 through 2017 I lifted weights at the gym 3x per week for close to an hour in each session.

I’m 55 today and act as a caregiver for my mother. Thus the need to change up my workout routines. My old trainer who left understood that it was okay to base the length of a session and the number of sets and reps on how much time I had that day to exercise.

This is why it’s a myth that you need to exercise 5 times a week for an hour at a time. Most people try to do this fail and give up totally.

I say: exercise 1x per week for a half hour when you can’t do anything else. It’s far better to continue to exercise in a modified way than to stop altogether. It’s harder to get back into exercise after you’ve halted doing it.

Folks: I haven’t ever exercised 5 times a week. And I don’t consider myself to be a magically “skinny” person.

It takes hard work for me to maintain my current fighting weight of 115 pounds. I’m only 5 feet tall too.

What I’ve found is that continuing to exercise and changing your M.O. as you go along and get older is the key to maintaining your fitness.

Have no fear of working hard to reap the rewards. Click on my home gym category to find my workout sheets for sample exercises you can do in your apartment or house.

A better day lies ahead. This day isn’t coming soon. Yet when the COVID-19 outbreak ends we will have the perfect opportunity to recommit to our health.

Be patient. This day is coming. I hope you are empowered by what I’m writing to consider creating your own tactics for health and wellness.

Fitness Progress During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted everyone’s lives and not for the better.

In early June I spoke with my personal stylist who told me: “You’re not a typical New Yorker.”

She had asked me how I was holding up and I told her that since June of last year I was exercising at home. So that I wasn’t affected when the gym shut down in March.

We need to be kinder and gentler toward ourselves in this time when the pandemic has not yet been eradicated.

I wasn’t so happy with my fitness progress which I felt was scattered and inconsistent since the outbreak started.

Until. I viewed the calendar sheets and tallied up my workout schedule from February through the end of July this year 2020.

Folks: 6 months have gone by. Half the year is over. We’ve spent 6 months in the throes of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Diving into the calendars I computed that since February 1, 2020 through August 2, 2020 I exercised as follows:

2x per week for 14 weeks.

1x per week for 9 weeks.

0x per week for 3 weeks.

On the monthly calendar sheets I write on the day I exercise “UB” for the Upper Body and “LB” for the Lower Body routine.

I recommend using a calendar to track your progress along with keeping a hardbound fitness journal. I inserted my calendar sheets into an orange fitness binder. I stopped writing in a fitness journal.

Luckily I’m able to text my personal trainer to get encouragement for my efforts while the pandemic is in effect.

As you can see from what I learned I have been exercising fairly consistently. Not in an ideal way–I’ve had to recycle workout sheets I used before and do them again.

Yet in light of this challenge I think: you did good kid.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about the myth of exercising 5 days a week for an hour each session.