The Whole Truth: Health and Wellness
Five Feel-Good Things To Do This Week
1) Play with your food. You don’t have to be an experienced chef to know that a good meal makes people happy, and even if you’re not a cook, playing with new ingredients or trying a new recipe can actually improve your overall wellbeing. Cooking takes your whole attention, allowing your mind to let go of day-to-day stressors, sending you into a calmer state of being. It also stimulates the senses, which increases feel-good endorphins, and researchers say that creative expression can better your mood and positively impact immune function and mental health. This week, experiment with a recipe you’ve been curious to try or update an old recipe with new, healthy alternatives. The possibilities are endless – from your ingredients to your tableware – so get in the kitchen, spark your creative juices and turn your next meal into a work of edible art.
2) Join Sarge’s ninth annual Downtown Dog Walk. Take a walk down Main Street in Downtown Waynesville this weekend and join hundreds of dogs and their families as they take part in Sarge’s Downtown Dog Walk. This much-loved annual community event is a simple stroll with great benefits, as donations raised will help supply food, medical care, spay and neuter costs, and shelter for the lost and abandoned cats and dogs of Haywood County. If you can’t join in on the fun, be a virtual walker and have a volunteer walk a Sarge foster dog for you! To register, visit www.sargeandfriends.org.
3) Drink more water. This week, stop drinking your calories (put down the soda and sweet tea!) and switch to good old-fashioned H20. Your body is composed of about 60 percent water and fluid loss happens constantly throughout the day - through body temperature maintenance, digestion, alcohol consumption and even breathing normally - so it’s important to make sure that your output equals your input, to avoid becoming dehydrated. Drinking water can relieve fatigue, promote weight loss, improve skin complexion and flush out toxins. Plus — it’s free! If you don’t care much for the lack of taste, try adding a squirt of lemon or a slice of cucumber.
4) Enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Feast. The dream team of local food organizations, including the French Broad Food Coop, Organic Growers School, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Green Sage Café, RAD and West Asheville Tailgate Markets are partnering to fund a new bulk organic animal feed project that will allow WNC farmers the opportunity to feed their animals organic food instead of pesticide laden (and often GMO) conventional feed. The Midsummer Night's Feast is a farm-to-table extravaganza featuring local organic produce, grass-fed meat, artisanal breads and craft beer. There will be a showing of “GMO OMG”, a highly regarded documentary made by local resident, Jeremy Seifert, followed by a panel discussion with local food leaders. Get tickets to the Aug. 4 benefit at brownpapertickets.com. (via exploreasheville.com)
5) Unplug. Calm your mind and disconnect from the tech this week. Whether you silence your cell phone during dinner or turn off the radio on your way home from work, let yourself find peace and be appreciative of what’s happening in your world — in that moment — rather than focusing on the lives of others. Try and “turn off” so you can enjoy the simple pleasures of in-person connections with your friends and family. Taking the necessary time to unplug can free your mind of over-stimulation, help you regain focus and reconnect with what really matters.
IN SEASON: Eggplant
Cooking time: 2 hours
This Eggplant Parmigiana (also known as Eggplant Parmesan) is especially delicious served on a toasted roll, and a great way to take advantage of the fresh, seasonal tomatoes, garlic and eggplant available at most farmers markets and grocery stores. For an added health bonus, try making your own whole-wheat breadcrumbs as an easy and inexpensive alternative. Simply chop bread with a bread knife or pulse in a food processor, and bake at 300° for about 10 minutes or until brown.
- 2 medium eggplants (1 1/2 pounds total), cut into 1/4-inch rounds
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes, pureed (or fresh seasonal tomatoes, skins removed)
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 1/2 cups plain dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (2 ounces), divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1. In a colander, toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Arrange slices in a single layer on a dishtowel and roll up tightly to extract excess water.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring tomatoes and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until thickened, 30 minutes.
3. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Put flour and eggs in two more shallow dishes. Coat eggplant in flour and shake off excess. Dip in egg, letting excess drip off. Coat with breadcrumbs.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat oil over medium-high (a few breadcrumbs should sizzle when added). In batches, fry eggplant until golden brown and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
5. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with half the eggplant, overlapping slices slightly, 2 cups sauce, and half the mozzarella. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella and then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
6. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.