Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette


Difficulty: Super Easy
Clean-up: Light
Active Time: 5 min
Total Time: 5 min.  Can also be prepared beforehand and chilled.

I’ve been wanting to make more salads, as a way to eat more veggies in the hot summer weather.  Here’s a simple dressing to spice up any salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar, or adjust to taste

Directions:

  1. Mince garlic.
  2. Mix all ingredients in small bowl or jar.
  3. Pour directly over salad, or whisk dressing with fork before serving on the side.  Makes enough for a small salad.

Cooking Tips:

  • Raw garlic packs a much stronger taste than cooked garlic.  A small clove can go a long way

Season:

1 Minute Exercise: Animal!


Difficulty: Super Easy
Active Time: 1 minute

Today, I took some inspiration from improv. I asked my husband for the name of an animal and made up movements inspired by the animal. I think this would be a fun exercise game with kids.

Equipment:

  • Timer (courtesy of my cell phone)

Instructions:

  1. Choose an animal (something that moves!)  My husband suggested a Tyrannosaurus.
  2. Set timer for 1 minute.
  3. Wander around your home like an active version of that animal, until the time sounds!  Try to use both your arms and legs.
  4. Laugh at your own silliness.

Muscles Used:

  • In my version of a Tyrannosaurs, I found myself using my arms a lot and clenching my biceps.  I also stomped around with my legs.  My heart-rate definitely went up, as I was a bit out of breath after a minute.  I found myself stretching my jaw and face too, in my imitation of big predator.  I think part of the fun of this “exercise” is figuring out afterwards what body parts I used!

Calories Burned:

  • Once again, I have no idea. It did seem more animated than yesterday’s “extended table.”

Reward for Self:

  • 1 more star!

1 Minute Exercise: Extended Table


Difficulty: Super Easy
Active Time: 1 minute

Today’s improvised exercise focused on developing my core strength.

Equipment:

  • Timer (courtesy of my cell phone)
  • Floor space

Instructions:

  1. Set timer for 30 seconds.
  2. Get down on hands and knees, to form a table.
  3. Extend right arm and left leg, so that they are parallel to the ground.  Hold until the timer sounds.
  4. Set timer for another 30 seconds, and repeat with opposite arm and leg.

Muscles Used:

  • Core muscles.

Calories Burned:

  • Eh, probably minimal. This didn’t raise my heartbeat or make me break a sweat. But I did feel satisfied that I spent a little time today trying to strengthen some muscle groups.

Reward for Self:

  • 1 star! Can’t wait to make up something new tomorrow.

1 Minute Exercise: Sitting and Standing


Difficulty: Super Easy
Active Time: 1 minute

After developing a habit of exercise for the first time in my whole life last November until February, I got exhausted in March and fell off the wagon. The past few days, I have been trying to convince myself to just take a walk for 15 minutes per day. No success.

Today, I decided to be kind to myself. I looked at myself honestly and realized that I only have the willpower to make myself do 1 minute of exercise. So that is the micro-change I am making this week: 1 minute of exercise per day. I know next to nothing about fitness, but I figure that any amount of movement is better for my heart and my body than no movement at all. I got the idea of sitting and standing as a “legitimate” exercise, from one of last season’s episodes of The Biggest Loser.

Equipment:

  • Timer (courtesy of my cell phone)
  • A Seat (my ottoman)

Instructions:

  1. Set timer for 1 minute.
  2. Stand, and raise arms over head.
  3. Lower arms as you sit down on the seat. I found it amusing to sweep my arms to the sides as I brought them down, to mimic a breast-stroke. Similarly, I raised my arms with my hands pressed together.
  4. Repeat, until the timer sounds.  My husband laughed at my improvised exercise, but he still congratulated me when I reached my goal.

Muscles Used:

  • As far as I can tell (very unscientifically), I used my legs, butt, arms, and heart. More muscles will speak up if any are sore tomorrow.

Calories Burned:

  • No clue!

Reward for Self:

  • 1 star, which I drew on the calendar for myself immediately after the timer rang! Right now, the star and the sense of accomplishment were satisfying enough, as it was the first time I achieved any of my exercise goals in a while. I may translate the star into a point to earn something for myself in the future.

Roasted Corn on the Cob


Difficulty: Super Easy
Clean-up: Very Light
Active Time
: 0 min
Total Time: 30 min

All you need for this recipe is corn on the cob and an oven! Clean-up is fantastic — no dishes to wash. To choose healthy corn, peel the silk back a little to check that the top kernels are plump and not moldy.

Ingredients:

  • Corn on the cob, with husks intact. Sometimes, I pull off the silks before roasting if they look too dirty or messy.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place husks directly on the oven rack and roast until corn is soft, about 30 mins
  3. Peel husks and enjoy!  Be careful not to burn your fingers.

Season:

  • According to the CUESA Seasonality Chart, corn is in season from June to October.  I usually can tell it’s time to grab some when they fall under 50 cents an ear!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes


Difficulty: Super Easy
Clean-up: Very light
Active Time: 5 min
Total Time: 55 min

This recipe is healthy, delicious, and delightfully easy to prepare. Clean-up is also very easy, if the tinfoil does not tear. The only drawback is that it takes some in the oven, especially if the sweet potatoes are large. The baking also will warm up your kitchen! I love this dish on fall and winter days.

Ingredients:

  • Any quantity of sweet potatoes or yams, unpeeled.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.  The high heat will caramelize the sugars and make the sweet potatoes super sweet.
  2. Line a baking pan or sheet with foil.
  3. Wash and pierce each sweet potato several times with a fork.
  4. Place sweet potatoes on the baking pan and bake until the potatoes are soft and juices run out of poked holes (approx. 50 min).  Enjoy!

Season: