Fit 4 Mom- Los Angeles

Helping moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life

Pesto

Jennie made this tasty pesto recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for the food swap.  I cut up pieces of rotisserie chicken, added some leftover green beans, cherry tomatoes and mixed it all together with whole wheat pasta.  Delicious & easy!

MAKES 3/4 CUP, ENOUGH FOR 1 POUND OF PASTA

Pounding the basil releases its flavorful oils into the pesto more readily. Basil usually darkens in homemade pesto, but you can boost the green color a little by adding the optional parsley. For sharper flavor, substitute one tablespoon finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese for one tablespoon of the Parmesan. The pesto can be kept in an airtight container, covered with a thin layer of oil (1 to 2 tablespoons), and refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to one month.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4cup pine nuts, toasted (or substitute almonds or walnuts)
  • 3medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2tablespoons fresh parsley leaves (optional)
  • 7tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/4cup finely grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
  • Ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Toast the nuts in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes; set aside. Add the garlic to the empty skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then peel, and chop.
  2. Place the basil and parsley (if using) in a heavy-duty 1-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Pound the bag with the flat side of a meat pounder or rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.
  3. Process the nuts, garlic, herbs, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Meet Our Moms

Beth (aka Charlotte’s mommy) is one of our LA Striders!   It’s women like you who make Stroller Strides one of the best mommy & me activities in Los Angeles.  We love working out with you & Charlotte.  Thank you for letting us get to know you!
1.Who are the members of your family? Where are you from?  Me (Beth), my husband, David, Charlotte our 16 month old and Lucy our adorable mutt.  David and I met when we were both living in Chicago.  I’m originally from Northern Minnesota and he’s lived in 14 states, growing up as an Airforce Brat.  I didn’t realize how Midwestern we were, until we moved out here 🙂
2. What is or was your career?  I originally went to school for Elementary, Special and Deaf Education and transferred half way through to a Theatre Conservatory in Chicago.  I loved acting in Chicago, but had a hard time balancing family and theatre (and David used to tour in a rock a capella group – which was extra hard), so I turned back to my original love – kids.  I’ve been a nanny for more than a dozen years.  I currently work with a family with school aged kids in the afternoons and evenings.  Charlotte comes with me and the kids all adore one another.
3. How long have you been a member of Stroller Strides and what has it done for you?   I’ve been attending for a few months.  It’s inspired me to set health and weight goals – as a reward for meeting those goals, I get to go clothes shopping after Christmas!  I’ve loved the supportive atmosphere and the ability to actually push myself physically because of all of the other strong mamas around me!  I’m also loving meeting new mamas, and expanding my community.  It’s been wonderful!
 4.  Other than Stroller Strides, what is your favorite thing to do with your child in L.A.?  Gosh, it’s a toss-up between swimming – anywhere really, Charlotte loves to play in water, and Aiden’s Place.  Aiden’s Place was the best park when Charlotte was just a crawler and we’ve continued to love it as she grows.  We love that Lucy can run around there, as well.
5. What is something that has surprised you about motherhood?  Probably how unrelenting it is… I should have known better :).   But, also how much joy those snuggles, giggles and middle of the night peeks in on our Charlie-pants would bring.  It’s been especially wonderful watching my husband grow into such a loving and dedicated father.
6. Favorite quick & easy dinner that your family enjoys eating.  Anything on the grill!  We like to buy organic meat in bulk when we can find good prices, and keep it in the freezer for a quick and delicious dinner anytime.
7. Favorite website(s)?   Nothing too terribly exciting, I’m sorry to say.  I don’t get a lot of  “screen time” between Charlotte and the big kids that I nanny for.  I love Facebook for keeping up with friends and family – I recently joined Westside Swap on there, which has been great for finding and selling baby and kid stuff.  I love You Tube for finding American Sign Language videos for Charlotte to watch while I “just finish that one last line” of an email :).  I especially love the Baby Bundles videos – they have kids doing the signs, an adult teaching the sign, cartoons of the word they’re signing, real life images – Charlotte LOVES it and signs along with the videos – too cute!  I loved using You Tube when I was shopping for bigger ticket items like strollers, too.  There were some great product reviews by people who actually use the stroller day in and day out that were immensely helpful!
8. What’s your current obsession?   I was trying to think of what my obsessions are – and I realized that what I’ve been putting most of my free time and effort into (other than keeping the darn house some modicum of clean!) is this and a homeless shelter for women and children.  We’re participating in a 5K run/walk this weekend to support CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates – for Foster Children).    My friend has been active in this organization for years and recently alerted me to it.  I feel strongly led to do whatever I can to encourage action on behalf of foster kids, and nowhere is such action needed more than here in Los Angeles.  L.A. County is home to more foster children than any other county in the country (more than 20,000 at last count) and their outcomes are heartbreaking.  Rates of everything from teen pregnancy, to high school graduation, to unemployment, to imprisonment are all horrific.  Currently, an astonishing 70% of California prison inmates come out of our foster care system.  In Los Angeles, nearly half of the foster kids who “age out” of the system are homeless within 6 months.
I believe this is a true justice issue.  We are taking children out of their homes based on a judgment that we — as a community — can provide a better, safer childhood, and we are routinely failing these children terribly.  For some, the need for removal is heartbreakingly clear, but this is not always the case: 80% of children in California are removed for neglect, not abuse.  Neglect can be extraordinarily serious, of course, but there are also huge overlaps between neglect and poverty.  And it’s not just the neglectful parent/s from whom the child is removed, but often their siblings, their friends, their neighborhood, their school, their pets, sometimes their cultural and religious practices, etc.  In other words, their whole world.  There is *so much more* we could be doing to support families and children in the first instance, thereby reducing the number of children in foster care, and better serving the ones who unquestionably and unfortunately must be there.  As of now, 74% of children in long-term foster care in Los Angeles have been moved through 4 or more placements, and 21% have been placed in 11 or more different homes/facilities.  Eleven or more homes!  How can a child possibly put together a life for themselves under these circumstances?  How can they ever learn to forge connections — much less trust — amidst such instability?  I *know* we can do better for these children.  (But please know that this is not a critique of the many incredible social workers, etc., who do their very best day in and day out for foster children — there are a host of systematic issues beyond their control and beyond the scope of this posting!).
So how does CASA help?  CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.   Anyone in the community can become a CASA; no particular background is required.   After receiving special training (and ongoing support) from CASA of Los Angeles, CASA volunteers are paired with a foster child and tasked with learning everything they can about that child’s life: Might the family be safely reunited with the help of supportive services?  Are there relatives who can help?  Is the child failing at school?  Are medical issues being attended to?  Armed with such knowledge, CASAs are authorized to advocate for the best possible course of action for that child  in court, in school, etc.  wherever a strong, vested, and stable voice is needed. They’re like mentors on steroids; they can truly make incredible, meaningful change happen in the life of a child, because they have the support and authority to do so.
Independent research demonstrates that children with a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, are more likely to receive needed services, and are less likely to re-enter foster care once given a permanent placement or safely reunified with family.  In 2009, the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care urged that “state funding for CASA programs be expanded to allow for appointments in all cases.” Unfortunately, California’s budget crisis has led to the opposite result: CASA of Los Angeles recently lost its state funding, and it must reach out to the greater Los Angeles community to continue its critical advocacy work.
Here’s a link to our fundraising page for the walk this weekend!  http://www.active.com/donate/justicejog2012/santamonicaquakers

9. What is your child’s favorite thing about you or favorite thing that you do?

Charlotte loves to just BE with me.  She’ll sit on the floor and smile up at me and tap the floor repeatedly with her index finger inviting me to just sit with her and enjoy.  It’s irresistible 🙂
10. Before I was a mother I swore I would never… Buy this many toys!  I swear I have a harder time resisting adding to our collection than she does! 🙂
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Understanding Artificial Sweeteners

By Lisa Druxman

It’s understandable that you might be drawn to diet foods or artificial sweeteners when trying to keep your weight down. Unfortunately, those foods may be doing you more harm than good.

Most of these are chemicals that replace the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Think about this – With real foods, when you eat something that’s very sweet, it’s also usually high in calories. Your brain knows this and does its best to use those calories efficiently. When you eat something that is sweet and does not have calories, your brain is confused and your body will not metabolize those calories as it should. Basically, if you eat something that tastes like it should have calories and doesn’t, it will have a negative impact on your body!

TIPS

  1. “Sugar Free” does not always mean low in calories.
  2. Recent studies have shown artificial sweeteners can actually increase your appetite.
  3. Artificial sweeteners can still spike your blood sugar and lead to additional cravings

Just because it’s on the market does not mean it’s safe. Saccharin has been linked to cancer. Sucralose (also known as Splenda) is associated with both liver and kidney enlargement. It can also cause skin rashes, headaches and stomach pains. Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet, Equal and others) has been associated with everything from hallucinations to brain tumors.

Turn to natural sweeteners when you need something sweet. This can be honey, maple syrup and date sugar. As with any sugar, keep it in moderation as it has no health benefit.  Sugar is sugar, regardless of color.

Natural Minimally Refined Sweeteners (the best for you)

•Fruit juice

•Unrefined maple syrup

•Raw honey

•Date sugar

•Molasses (blackstrap or barbados)

•Sucanat

•Brown rice syrup

•Barley malt

Refined Sweeteners (second best)

•White sugar

•Brown sugar

•Refined maple syrup

•Corn syrup

•Fructose

•Glucose

•Dextrin

•Dextrose

•Processed honey

•Maltodextrin

Artificial Sweeteners (avoid!)

•Aspartame (a.k.a. NutraSweet)

•Saccharin

•Mannitol

•Sorbitol

•Xylitol

L Druxman, (2011, July 18).  Understanding Artificial Sweeteners

Retrieved from http://www.strollerstrides.com/lisa-druxmans-blog

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Sticky Squares Window Art

Kids love stickers!  At Plum Play Group our kids created a backwards sticker using clear contact paper & square pieces of tissue paper.  Hang it in a window and it looks like stained glass.  Here’s how to do it at home…

Supplies

  • 8 1/2 by 11 card stock ( I used 1/2 of a file folder)
  • clear contact paper
  • tissue paper cut into squares

Directions

  • cut a square out of the middle of the card stock
  • cut contact paper just smaller than the card stock
  • attach the contact paper to the card stock
  • cut squares out of tissue paper
  • let the kiddos have fun sticking tissue paper on the large square “sticker”
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Brazilian (aka “flower picking”) Lunge with Row

DIRECTIONS: Stand on the tube with one foot and extend the other back into a lunge. Choke up onto the tube at about mid-calf and create a straight line from your head to your back ankle. Begin with a lunge movement and then add in the row.

REMINDERS:
  • Keep belly tight throughout to support the back/spine.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades tightly in the row
  • Lunge movement is up and down, not forward and back
  • Keep knee in alignment with the ankle, not over the toes
  • BREATHE
MODIFICATIONS:
  • To lessen the intensity, perform the exercise without the tubing.

*content courtesy of Stroller Strides Corporate

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Friday Night Pizza

Pesto Pizza

The book,  Animal, Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life  by Barbara Kingsolver, inspired me to start a Friday Night Pizza tradition.  Before baby #2 was born I was making Kingsolver’s Pizza Dough but lately I have been relying on Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.   Pizza is the perfect meal for Friday night.  After a long week everyone is cranky & tired.  Pizza is quick, easy & customizable!  Everyone gets their own section and  can add whatever toppings they desire.  Sometimes the pizza is preplanned but most of the time I take leftover veggies, add some cheese and volia- dinner is served!    Here are a few of my family’s favorite combinations:

Pesto Pizza

  • pesto
  • mozzarella cheese
  • tomatoes
  • goat cheese

Greek Pizza

  • spinach mixture ( when I make quiche I double the spinach & freeze it)
  • mozzarella cheese
  • kalamata olives
  • tomatoes
  • feta cheese

Sausage & Greens

  • chicken sausage
  • garlic
  • kale or swiss chard
  • mozzarella cheese
  • red pepper flakes

What does your family like on their pizza?

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Meet Our Moms

Jennie Kemmerer (aka Rowan’s mommy) is one of our LA Striders!   It’s women like you who make Stroller Strides one of the best mommy & me activities in Los Angeles.  We love working out with you & Rowan.  Thank you for letting us get to know you!

1.Who are the members of your family? Where are you from?  My immediate family consists of my husband John—who is from Pennsylvania originally, but lived in the San Francisco-Bay Area for over 20 years, Rowan, our pug dog Stella, and me (a native Los Angelean). My parents, Nonna (Nettie) and Pop Pop (John), live near LAX in the house we moved into when I was 6 months old. My brother John and his wife Meg and their two kids, Jay and Hazel, live in Charlottesville, VA.

And yes, ALL the adult males in my family are named JOHN—father, brother, and husband and for about 3 hazy, post-partum days, my sister-in-law named my nephew John but then, thankfully, came to her senses. As you can imagine, it can be very confusing to tell stories about my family…

2. What is or was your career?  I have been teaching high school and college English for nearly 20 years. I have worked as an English Teacher and Department Chair at Immaculate Heart High School in Hollywood since 1994. I hope to go back to teaching in 2013 (or not!).
3. How long have you been a member of Stroller Strides and what has it done for you?  I have been taking Stroller Strides classes since last fall. Rowan was one of the little ones back then and all the other kids seemed so big. Now she seems to have caught up! Stroller Strides makes it easy to be accountable for getting some exercise. I am really enjoying the Tar Pits location because it is so close to home for me and so lovely with all the trees.

4.Other than Stroller Strides, what is your favorite thing to do with your child in L.A.?  We live near the Tar Pits so we’re always up at the park or walking through LACMA. We enjoy going to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and to the Zimmer Museum and when we’re really brave, the beach.

5. What is something that has surprised you about motherhood? I am a big worry wort and I worried all through my pregnancy and even though I do still worry some, I am pleasantly surprised at what a relaxed mother I am. I would have thought I would be really uptight but am pleased to find that I am not. As long as she doesn’t put poison or dog poop in her mouth, I am good. 🙂

6. Favorite quick & easy dinner that your family enjoys eating.  My husband does all the cooking (lucky me!). When I have to cook, I like making Cook’s Illustrated’s No Cream Cream Soups. This one uses carrots but you can do it with butternut squash, cauliflower, broccoli, or potatoes.

SERVES 4 TO 6

Either chicken or vegetable broth can be used in this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter, or the same amount of vegetable or olive oil
  • 1medium onion, 3 medium shallots, or 1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), chopped
  • 2tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
  • 1 1/2pounds carrots (about 8 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin (about 4 cups)
  • 2cups low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • Ground white pepper
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 – 1 1/4cups whole milk
  • 2teaspoons minced fresh tarragon, mint, chives, or parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Heat butter or oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Add sherry and carrots; stir constantly and cook until sherry evaporates, about 30 seconds.
  2.  Add broth, salt, pepper to taste, and nutmeg to saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3.  Ladle carrot mixture into blender. Add 1 cup milk; blend until very smooth. Return soup to saucepan; cook over low heat until warmed through. If soup is too thick, stir in additional milk to thin consistency. Adjust seasonings. (Soup can be refrigerated for 3 days and reheated just before serving.)
  4. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish with minced herb and serve immediately.

7. Favorite website(s)?  New York Times, Pinterest, Zulily, Amazon, Plum District  Blogs: A Chow Life, Cooking with my Kid, MattBites, Best of LA  and Taster Tots LA
8. List three current obsessions.

  • Photography:  I am taking an online photography class designed for parents called Photosanity with Nesting NYC—to help me get better shots of Rowan and to organize the ones I do have.
  • Baking:  I am always looking for an excuse to try a new recipe.
  • Reading: I am an English teacher, what can I say?

9. What is your child’s favorite thing about you or favorite thing that you do?  Rowan loves when I chase her crawling and pretend to be unable to catch her. She also loves when I sing to her; even though I have a terrible voice, she loves it!

10. Before I was a mother I swore I would never…  Be a helicopter parent. I haven’t become one yet and aspire to never do so! 

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Plie Punches

DIRECTIONS:  This exercise is primarily for the core, however, there is some great chest work gained, as well. Anchor the tube behind the back, under the arms. Hold on to the handles and choke up on the tube. Lower down into a plie squat and begin the single arm alternating punches. Focus on rotation at the rib cage while keeping the hips square.

REMINDERS:
  • Pull shoulders away from the ears.
  • Hold the plie squat with feet wide and thighs parallel to the ground (or as low as possible).
  • Keep core engaged throughout by drawing belly button towards the spine.
  • Keep head in alignment with the spine
  • Punch with control
  • B R E A T H E
MODIFICATIONS:
  • For less intensity, perform the punches without the tubing and/or come out of the plie a little bit.

*content courtesy of Stroller Strides Corporate

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Meet Our Moms

Suzanne Kirkland (aka Thomas’ mommy) is one of our LA Striders!   It’s women like you who make Stroller Strides one of the best mommy & me activities in Los Angeles.  We love working out with you & Thomas.  Thank you for letting us get to know you!

1.Who are the members of your family?  Where are you from? I’m from Bozeman, Montana.  Dylan is from New Orleans, Chicago and Orange County.  Thomas is -The LA baby!
2. What is or was your career? Currently I’m the full time mom / house organizer… but I’ve had a happy career in Los Angeles as a Production and Travel Coordinator for the film industry.

3. How long have you been a member of Stroller Strides and what has it done for you?  I’ve been coming to Stroller Strides for almost a year now.  Aside from being the only exercise program that I have stuck with for more than a month (I’m not kidding.  really), Stroller Strides has been a phenomenal support group for me as a first time mom.  It has been a place for me to talk about my concerns and get really practical, non-judgemental advice.

4.  Other than Stroller Strides, what is your favorite thing to do with your child in L.A.?  We live close to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits.  It’s a fun place to go for the great exhibits and also the beautiful outdoor space.
5. What is something that has surprised you about motherhood? Its sounds SO naive, but I really thought I was going to be able to check things on my personal “I’ve always wanted to have time to…” list.  I’ve only recently (after 14 months!) accepted the fact that raising a child is truly a 24 hour job… I have less time for writing or working on projects than I did when I was working full time.

6. Favorite quick & easy dinner that your family enjoys eating.  When I really need something quick its usually spaghetti with turkey meatballs and salad.  Not super exciting – but always gets eaten by everyone.

7. Favorite website(s)?

8. List three current obsessions.   I bought this cheap cordless vacuum on Amazon and I LOVE IT.  With a baby, dog, cat and husband… I can’t vacuum enough.

9. What is your child’s favorite thing about you or favorite thing that you do? Probably that we have dance parties daily (“moo-sic?”)  and occasionally let him eat as many blueberries as he wants.

10. Before I was a mother I swore I would never use food to entertain my child… but I do it all the time. 

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Honor Your Shape

Celebrate your post-pregnancy body!  Be proud of your current shape and all your body has done for you.  You birthed a baby!!  What else is your body capable of doing?  Don’t let negative self-talk stand in your body’s way of becoming the best it can possibly be.  Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage you and challenge you to make positive improvements in your life.  Don’t pollute your mind with images of celebrities who are back in their jeans days after giving birth!  For every woman who laments her postpartum scars, there is a woman who only wishes she had them.

The Shape of a Mother website is a place where real women post unedited pictures of their beautiful post-pregnancy bodies; no airbrushing, no plastic surgery.  It is a celebration of real women and their magnificent shapes.

BirthMarkings is a short documentary film (19 minutes) that focuses on women’s relationship to their post-pregnancy bodies.  Showing only their naked bellies mothers speak candidly about their shape.

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