Oh the summer 6….my nemesis. What’s the summer 6 you ask? Well it’s the darn 6 pounds (or depending on the day 7 or 8 ) that I seem to gain every. single. summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s 6 pounds of good stuff…barbecues, cocktails by the pool, ice cream, snacks…so I can’t really complain. But come August it usually hits me when I realize my clothes are a little bit too tight. Ugh. I hate the summer 6. (But it all tasted so good…)
So what am I going to do? Well since the kids are back in school I’m definitely getting back on a schedule. That is huge for me. I’m also going to focus on making some kick-ass salads and soups over the next couple of weeks. And I’m going to start running again. Yep…for those of you who have started, stopped and started running again you know how that first week or two of running can be…pretty brutal. Those of you who just want to start running in the first place know the feeling too…I know because I have always been that person. I’ve never been a lover of running…I would do it, every now and then, but it was not something I could say I enjoyed. I thought the people who “enjoyed running” were nuts to be honest. But last fall, something came over me and I started running outside…I broke past the 3 mile mark and I actually started to enjoy it. I finally felt the “runner’s high” that everyone talks about and I got hooked. So I ran…and I ended up running a half marathon in December and then a 8 miler race in March. It felt awesome…and I pretty much haven’t run much since. (hint why: it got really really warm outside).
So here I am at the beginning again. And on my run (if that’s what you want to call it…I call it bouncing) this morning I thought of all the little things that got me motivated last year to really start running. I figured I’d share them here in case anyone else is in the same boat as me…maybe we can do this together.
First things first:
1. Music – I need good music. I use my iPod and I make myself a playlist with at least an hour’s worth of music, and when I run, I use the shuffle mode…so it’s always a “surprise”.
2. New Sneakers – After I’m done writing this post I’m on my way to go buy myself some new running sneaks. Mine are feeling a little flat. If you are serious about getting into running my advice is to get yourself into a store that specializes in running, they will talk with you and actually fit you for shoes that will work well with your feet. Once I find a shoe I like I usually stick with it for a while…right now I’m happy with my Asics Duomax GT-2150. Hoping I can find a pair on sale.
3. Gear – I can not run without my Spibelt and a visor. Holding my iPod used to annoy me when I ran. So did sun in my eyes and wearing sunglasses just didn’t work (sweaty face and sunglasses = no). I found an awesome little accessory called a Spibelt and it has made running so much more enjoyable. My iPhone and key fit in perfectly and it’s not bulky at all, it actually stays very close to my body and does not bounce when you run. And the visor is now a must…even on a cloudy day.
4. Foam Roller – A big reason why running and I used to not get along is the the aches and pains that came along with it. My hips and back used to KILL me after I ran. I found out after a trip to a massage therapist (who is also a runner) that my pain all stemmed from my quads. My quads were so tight and full of knots that it would pull on the muscles that connected my hips and lower back. What an eye opener. I was introduced to a foam roller at my gym and I’m not kidding, it changed my life. I use it ALL the time. It’s like a deep tissue massage and I’m not going to lie, it hurts. But it is so necessary to get all those knots out of those leg muscles if you want to avoid back pain and knee injuries. I’ve found some videos on how to use the foam roller…highly recommend it!
Okay…so that’s my two cents on getting back into running for right now. I am starting slow (have never been all that fast really) and I am running and walking when I need to. I know eventually I won’t need to do that every time…and if I do it’s okay. Getting your body moving is all that matters in my opinion.
So let’s talk food now. I have been wanting to share this eggplant recipe FOREVER. But for some reason I haven’t. It seemed too simple, my pictures were never right but for some reason, this is one of those recipes someone is always asking me how to make. I’ll be so happy when I can just share this link instead of writing it all out each time.
I love eggplant (I shared that on a Babble roundup of eggplant recipes post yesterday). What I usually do with eggplant is bread it, bake it and freeze it. I like to make a big batch at once (because breading stuff is not my favorite thing to do) and having it in the freezer ready to be warmed up comes in so handy. I heat it up in my toaster oven (or regular oven) and add it to pasta dishes, sandwiches, salads and of course use it to make Eggplant Parmesan. This is a rough recipe, meaning it really depends on how much you are making. If you run out of eggs in the breading process, whisk some more…same goes for breadcrumbs. What’s important is the method.
Baked Breaded Eggplant
Recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen
2-3 large Italian eggplant (peeled or unpeeled, up to you)
3 eggs, whisked in a large shallow bowl or dish
2-3 cups plain breadcrumbs or panko (sometimes I use a little of both)
a couple of pinches of dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground pepper
olive oil spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
On your cutting board, cut off both ends of your eggplant. Using a sharp knife carefully slice your eggplant lengthways into 1/2″ slices. (Here’ a great post for a visual how-to cut an eggplant into slices)
Once my eggplant is sliced up I lay the slices out onto baking racks or pans and sprinkle the slices with kosher or coarse salt. This will pull out the moisture and any bitterness from the eggplant. I let it sit in the salt for about 15-30 minutes.
While your eggplant is sitting, season your breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, parmesan and Italian seasoning (you can always use store bought Italian seasoned breadcrumbs if you like). Set up an assembly line: sliced eggplant, whisked eggs, shallow dish of seasoned breadcrumbs and lightly greased baking sheets (I spray mine with cooking spray).
Rinse salt off eggplant and pat dry well with dish towels or paper towels. I like to press down as I’m drying to really pull out all the water. Once eggplant is pressed dry, you are ready to bread.
Dip your eggplant slice into the egg, removing any excess egg before dipping into breadcrumbs. Press eggplant slice into breadcrumbs on both sides until coated well. Place into baking sheet. Repeat until all slices are breaded.
At this time, spray each breaded eggplant slice with olive oil spray (or cooking spray).
Bake in oven heated at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Flip each slice over and bake for another 15 minutes until eggplant slices are golden brown. Keep an eye on your eggplant, if some slices are thinner than others they may brown up quicker.
To store in freezer: Lay a freezer bag flat on counter and layer cooled baked eggplant slices alongside each other (slightly overlapping) in the bag. I try to find a flat surface in the freezer to store them until they are frozen. Once they are frozen flat they are easier to store.
To serve from freezer: You can defrost ahead of time if you like, or take straight from freezer and warm up in 350 degree oven or toaster oven.
Have a great weekend!