It’s here! The final home-stretch of my pregnancy! It’s hard to believe really. This started so, so long ago and seemed so far away, even back in June, and now I only have about a week left until my due date. So much is changing in our family’s lives in the next few weeks. New schools with new classrooms for the girls, new baby and new au pair, and of course new routines for all of us. Thinking about the routine changes is in some ways a huge relief and in others daunting. I actually came to appreciate not rushing out of the house most mornings, not caring much what the girls dress themselves in and not worrying about packing lunches! Who hears me on this one?! ;)
But in all seriousness, the routine change will be awesome. I’ve been doing the absolute BEST I can to try and stay motivated to workout this entire pregnancy. But will fully admit it’s been getting tougher over the last few weeks. I can feel my body slowing down but also know that this is when I need it the most. Working out helps me to be my best self. I can calm any anxiety, resolve problems more easily, get better sleep and of course they help me make better food choices. So workouts are my go-to these days in the chaos of change and transitions. My favorites lately have been Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre, and FIT4BABY. I fit in any and all classes when I can. I was excited to see 3 different instructors at classes last week and even get some alone time in for myself. (Tip: Did you know you can go to stroller classes without kids?! You can push an empty stroller, or just leave it in your car!)
So tonight I am planning out my workouts. My bump and me will be at at least 3 FIT4MOM classes this week. Where will I see you?
P.S. I’m already dreaming of taking Body Back Transformation in January! Body Back gives me time to myself, gets my food & nutrition back on track, and adds accountability in to my workouts!
This month we are celebrating one of the many twin mamas in Our Village, Kristen. Kristen is a mama to two adorable and very, very busy 1 year old twins. She has been a member of our classes for a year and started when the twins were infants. She's a loyal client that comes to Stroller Strides & Stroller Barre, rain, shine, or snow! She's always a friendly face at classes and welcoming to new mamas that join us. Thanks for your awesome attitude Kristen. We're so glad to have you in Our Village!
Wow, mamas... Can you believe summer is over halfway over?! School starts next week for us. Eeek. Time is flying by! And on top of it all, our new baby will be here in (give or take) 3 weeks. I find this time to be bittersweet. I love the summer days with my girls, but I am also looking forward to the routine of the fall. The slightly more predictable schedules and cooler temps are calling my name.
But I don’t want to rush things! It is still officially summer, with the heat, later bedtimes, and ice cream trucks. ;) One of my favorite memories from this summer was a long family vacation. My husband and I both took two weeks off work to dedicate 100% to family time. We spent as much time as possible together as a family of 4. Our daughters soaked in and lavished in the mostly undivided attention from their parents. A huge contributor to this “undivided” attention was a social media break. I took a 2-week break (!!) from Facebook. I’ve only done this one other time in my mom life. I’ll admit - at first my hands felt a little empty without holding my phone. When I did have my phone around, I kept looking at it to find something to click on and mindlessly surf. But eventually I got used to it and surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly!) I didn’t miss it at all. It was a much-needed break. I watched my girls play in the sand and couldn’t help but think about how our life will soon never be the same. Having another baby is going to be a true joy for our family, and already is. But there is a small part of me that is totally cherishing the present and knows that one day I will miss the times like this, with just the four of us.
Soak up your summer fun, mamas. Let the kiddos get messy, stay up late, and take that extra adventure. Whatever changes life has in store for you – whether it’s a baby, a new house, a new job, or just the kids growing bigger by the day - next summer won’t be the same!
PS - If you ever take a vacation to the beautiful Hilton Head, South Carolina, be sure to hire Michelle with Photography by Michelle for some family photos! Thanks for the lovely family photo, Michelle!
It’s time for a healthy dinner! Well, part of a healthy dinner. Summer is peak grilling season and I don’t need to give you a recipe to grill a chicken breast. Instead, here are a couple new side dishes to liven up your grilled proteins! This month we’re making Mediterranean Lentils and Watermelon Salad.
I don’t know about you, but grilling has never been a “night off” from cooking. My husband manages the grilling, but I’m inside prepping vegetables and making side dishes. One of the best parts of these two recipes is that they actually taste better if they sit in the fridge. I can make these during the baby’s nap and then relax during grill time.
Both of these recipes are full of vegetables (and fruits) and light on processed ingredients. Mediterranean Lentils could be a meal on its own, with all the plant protein lentils provide. Double bonus, both of these recipes are vegetarian, gluten-free, no added sugars, and can be converted to vegan. They’re perfect to bring to a summer party or just keep in your fridge.
1.5 cups green lentils
1 English cucumber
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
4 oz (.5 cup) crumbled feta cheese
.5 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp chopped garlic
.5 cup red or white wine vinegar
.25 cup olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Small bunch of fresh mint
1. Cook the lentils according to the package instructions. Make sure you don’t overcook them! Mushy lentils do NOT make a good salad.
2. Put the onion in a bowl and cover them with the vinegar. Toss it all together and let it sit while you prep the remaining ingredients.
3. Chop the cucumber and tomatoes into bite sized pieces and add to a large bowl. Cut the olives in half. Finely slice the mint leaves.
4. Drain the lentils and put them in the fridge to cool.
5. When the lentils are room temperature, add to the veggies.
6. Take 2 tbsp vinegar out of the onions and drain the rest. Add the onion to the other ingredients and toss in the feta.
7. In a small bowl, whisk together reserved vinegar, oil, garlic, and mustard. Gently stir the dressing into the other ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Top with mint and enjoy!
I usually cook the lentils a day ahead of time with my Instant Pot (I take a minute off the recommended cooking time, I like them al dente). I have a bad habit of letting beans and lentils burn on the stove. Also, it’s important to use green lentils for this recipe. Brown lentils have a tough outer skin and red lentils don’t hold their shape when cooked.
Soaking the onions in vinegar pickles them little and takes away some of the bite. If you’re not a big fan of garlic, you could add it to the vinegar to get a milder flavor. You could also add some baby bell peppers if you want a little more color in this dish.
4 cups cubed watermelon
3 cups cubed English cucumber (about ¾ of a large one)
2 cups blueberries
.5 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 small jalapeno pepper
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 small bunch mint
1. CAREFULLY remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeno and finely dice.
2. Gently combine the ingredients in a large bowl and stir.
3. Top with finely sliced mint, add salt and/or pepper to taste
I have to admit, I’m not a big watermelon person, but I like this recipe! If you love watermelon, feel free to adjust the cucumber:melon ratio (I just had a ‘90s Bath and Body Works flashback!). You could also add more jalapeno or leave the seeds in for a bigger kick. I have added a couple tablespoons of olive oil to make this more of a dressed salad, but I don’t see a big difference. Full disclosure, my kids don’t really like this dish. They prefer their watermelon as is, but life isn’t always about them, so I keep making it. You could make this a meal by adding some precooked shrimp, too! I love it next to grilled chicken, though. It really lightens up the meal.
Hope you enjoy these two side dishes! Next month we’re taking a break from dinner to hook you up with some lunch box ideas. If your kids are anything like mine, summer has been one gigantic snack time. That eating schedule ends in less than a month! We need to learn some new ways to pack healthy, filling, and kid-approved lunches.
We are so excited to announce Dawn as our July Mom of the Month! Dawn has always been an active runner. She joined our Body Back Transformation session in the spring and had truly AMAZING results! She figured out a plan to balance out workouts with her work schedule, prepare healthy meals for herself and family and stayed accountable to the meal plan. She gained strength and friendships in her session. She always has a smile on her face and is an awesome cheerleader for the moms in our classes. Congratulations Dawn! We are so happy to have you in our village.
Who likes turkey burgers? Who has accidentally made dry, rubbery turkey burgers? If your answer is “yes” we have the recipe for you in this month’s blog. Zucchini Turkey Burgers are a delicious take on a healthy summer favorite!
This recipe came from a favorite recipe source in our FIT4MOM village, Skinnytaste. I tried a few little tweaks and even made it in bulk and froze some for later. It comes together quickly and you can cook the burgers on a grill or stovetop.
Zucchini makes these burgers perfectly juicy and the garlic and onion give them lots of flavor. I served them on whole wheat buns, but you could make a lettuce wrap, too. We had Greek salad on the side for a tasty, protein and veggie rich meal.
Here’s the recipe.
Zucchini Turkey Burgers
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, or plain instant oatmeal
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 tbsp grated red onion
1 tsp kosher salt and fresh pepper
Olive or canola oil
Use paper towels to squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini.
Combine ground turkey, zucchini, crumbs/oats, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.
Make 4-5 patties, personal preference for size.
Indoor cooking: Heat a large nonstick skillet on high heat. Put in a light coat of olive oil. Add burgers and reduce the heat to low. Cook on one side until brown, then flip.
Grilling: Lightly coat grill grates with canola oil. Cook the burgers on medium heat about 5 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center.
Tips and Tricks
You really do need to get the moisture out of the zucchini. I like to lay a couple layers of paper towels inside a thin kitchen towel, put the zucchini in the middle, and make a bundle to twist.
I use a potato masher to break up the ground turkey and mix the burgers. My son loves to help with this part!
The original recipe called for making 5 equal patties, but that doesn’t make sense for my family. We made burgers sized for our family members, and I started the adult sized burgers about 5 minutes before the child sized ones.
These burgers worked great from the freezer! I tripled the recipe, and formed the extra mixture into patties. I layered those in parchment paper, slip them in a Ziploc bag, and froze them. I pulled them out of the freezer the morning I wanted to use them and let them thaw in the fridge all day. They were still perfect!
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! Next month I’ll be sharing some of my favorite summer salads. They’re great as sides or entrees!
Every summer I have the best intentions to start a “summer bucket list” for my kiddos... Well this is the year! My girls are now 4 and 6 (how did that happen?!) and I finally am committing to accomplishing it this summer! (Could be part of my nesting for baby #3, too? I’m already starting to feel the mom guilt of another baby joining our family so I’m doing all I can to make this one of their best summers yet! Of course, I want it to be one of my best summers, too. ;) )
I thought it would be great to divide the list into 3 sections: activities to do at home, close to home, and a little bit of a drive. I hope my list gives you some new ideas and helps you to feel like this summer is one of your best ones yet, too!
P.S. There is NO WAY we will get to all of these but it’s great to have plenty of options to choose from. Huge thanks to the mamas on my FIT4MOM DuPage County Instructor Team that contributed, too!
Close to Home Activities (around 20 min or less drive):
Farther from Home Activities (20 min or further drive):
I’m sure there are many more fun things I missed! What’s on your list that I should add to mine?
Alright mamas, whoa! This heat has been CRAZY, right?! We know you have lots of things on your summer bucket list (including our FIT4MOM DuPage County classes!) and want to find some ways to help you stay cool this summer while out having fun. We’ve put together a quick, go-to list of our favorite “keep cool” items for the summer. Check them out below!
And stay tuned for our blog post next week… 2018 Summer FIT4MOM DuPage County Bucket List. We’ve got lots of fun ideas for you and the kiddos to do - both at home and local spots to hit up!
Products to keep cool:
Stroller/Car Seat Accessories:
In addition to these awesome items please make sure you are always wearing a hat yourself mamas, using sunscreen and drinking TONS of water outdoors this summer. Throw an extra bottle in your car for your way home from class or activity.
Happy summer mamas!
Our June Mom of the the month is Jen. Jen is a HUGE inspiration to all of our mamas at any class she attends. She rocks out a smile no matter what. Jen started with us in Stroller Strides & Stroller Barre then added on Body Back Transformation and is now expecting in FIT4BABY pre-natal. She's a rockstar! We are so glad you're part of our community Jen. Congrats mama!
All right mamas, I’m calling it. I’m overwhelmed. Anyone else feeling this way, too?
I will never call myself an expert at being a small business owner. I have spent a lot of time over the last few years listening to productivity podcasts and reading blogs in hopes of learning some tricks to balancing it all. It’s important to be manage your time well and be efficient in order to get everything done that goes into running a successful business.
Right now FIT4MOM is thriving (cue happy dance – for me and all the mamas in Our Village!) But my personal life? It falls into the maxed-out, completely overwhelmed, can’t-squeeze-another-thing-onto-my-plate category. My husband has been traveling more than ever, school is about to get out for the summer, and I my due date for Baby #3 is quickly approaching. I find myself lacking the energy that I’m used to having. In the past, I have been able to make up work hours in the evening if I chose to spend time during the day checking off items on my personal to do list, but that isn’t happening these days. So instead, on the days I have childcare, I’ve been focusing as much time as possible on FIT4MOM, but then guess what suffers? My personal life. I’m happy to say I’ve still been keeping up my workouts (a good sweat session can save my sanity!) but as for my house? It is one hot mess!
So how am I going to make things better? I’ve decided to take it one day at a time and focus on what I can get done vs. what I should get done. I’m going back to what works. Today I’m putting on an out of office response on my email and I’m going to spend a few hours on the most important tasks for work and a few hours on the most important tasks at home. I think if I get my home life cleaned up a little, I’ll feel less stressed and I can start to climb out of this everyday feeling of being overwhelmed.
I believe this is just a phase. That this, too, shall pass. But man, it’s hard right now! I’m hanging in there, and I hope you are too! How are you feeling these days, mama?
Welcome to the May Healthy Dinner Blog! This month we’re featuring Baked (or grilled)* Salmon and Veggies. It’s plenty of protein with an Omega-3 bonus, in a super quick meal with easy cleanup. Salmon is one of the only meals that EVERYONE in my family eats without any complaint (as long as they don’t see any pepper on their piece, kids!) It’s a staple in our weekly meal rotation, and while I occasionally get complicated, this basic recipe is my go to. It’s easy enough for weeknights, but fancy enough for a special occasion. We made it for Mother’s Day this year!
My secret for flaky, but juicy salmon is foil. We layer veggies and salmon fillets with infused olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon in a foil pouch. The recipe is a take-off on the French method of cooking “en papillote,” where ingredients are carefully folded into a parchment paper pouch that resembles a butterfly. It comes out of the oven looking toasty and fancy, but it’s a pain to get that pouch folded tightly enough to steam the food. Foil works just as well and it’s so much easier!
This is another great opportunity to get the whole family involved in cooking! I prep all the vegetables and then call each person in to choose their own. My son loves helping me build the vegetable foundation for the fish, and it makes it so easy to keep my daughter’s dinner safe from onion (or any other flavors, for that matter, we’re working on expanding their pallettes.) Plus, getting their own packets helps the kids get excited about dinner.
Here’s your recipe:
2-3 medium zucchini
1 medium Vidalia (or sweet) onion
4 pieces of salmon (5-6 ounces each)
1 large lemon
Olive Oil (I like a garlic and herb infused one)
4 18 inch pieces of aluminum foil
Start by preheating the oven to 375.
Prep your veggies. Chop the zucchini into 1cm thick rounds and thinly slice the onion. Slice the lemon into thin rounds, as well.
Season your salmon with salt and pepper (you can add another herb if you’re using plain olive oil - I like a pinch of dill)
Start building! Fold each piece of foil in half and put in a layer of 6 zucchini slices. Add a slice of the onion (break it up a little) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add a piece of salmon, the top with a slice or two of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.
Time to fold it up! Turn the foil so that the skinny end of the salmon faces you. Fold the bottom and top of the foil in, then bring the two sides over like you’re folding a letter. Give it a gentle squeeze to make sure it holds together, but you don’t need to pinch it too tightly.
Lay the packs on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes (or put on the grill for about the same time).
A few notes:
I’ve tried lots of vegetable with this recipe -- Zucchini works best. You can add mushrooms, but they won’t get delicious and browned since we’re using steam to cook the fish. Bell peppers tend to overpower the fish, as does asparagus. You can definitely experiment if you want, though!
Since we didn’t pinch the foil tightly, you can gently open a pack to check for doneness. I like my salmon a little pink in the middle, but my kids like theirs well done. It’s easy to make everyone happy with this recipe, just pull the packs out as they’re done and leave them sealed until everyone is ready.
I usually add a baked sweet potato or some brown rice to this meal. Salmon and zucchini is delicious, but it’s not enough to keep me full for long. Even with those additions, it’s about as healthy as you can get!
This is a great weeknight meal. The whole thing takes 30 minutes to make, and the dishes are minimal. Just a cutting board and a baking sheet (or even less if you grill it.)
Check back next month for a summer classic: burgers!
This month we are excited to announce Ashley as our Mom of the Month! Ashley is a twin mom (one of many in our village of mamas) and has rocked out many of our classes. She gives 110% in all of her workouts and always has a smile on her face. She supports other mamas and takes the support in return. Congrats Ashley!
This month we are thrilled to announce our mom of the month, Meagan. Meagan is a FIT4BABY pre-natal client with us. She has the biggest smile on her face during classes and has truly just jumped right into FIT4MOM. This is her first pregnancy and she found us of course on Facebook. ;) Welcome to Our Village Meagan! We absolutely love you and can't wait to meet your sweet baby this summer!!
Want to try a pre-natal workout class with us for free? Just fill out this quick form and we'll get back to you ASAP!
Spring is officially here and summer is on the way! One of the things I love about the changing seasons is switching up my recipe repertoire. My favorite warm weather recipe is chicken salad, hands down. It’s a great make-ahead meal and there are endless variations. Plus, while the traditional version isn’t winning any nutritional awards, it’s easy to make it healthy and filling!
I made three different chicken salads this month. The basic recipe is the same for all. I just change out some of the seasoning and ingredients to create very different flavor profiles. I must admit -- my kids only really like the first variation, but they’ll eat all three.
Here’s our basic recipe:
Dump chicken and veggies/fruit in a large bowl. Combine all other ingredients in a smaller bowl and add to the chicken. Stir it all together and enjoy!
Each variation changes out the seasonings and veggies/fruits. I have three for you here, but you can use anything your family likes.
Version 1: Fruity Chicken Salad (my kids’ favorite)
Version 2: Curried Chicken Salad (this one is inspired by Coronation Chicken):
Version 3: Tzatziki Chicken Salad (this is MY favorite)
Tips and Tricks
These recipes serve 6 and come in at about 300 calories each (although the tzatziki version is under 250!). It has plenty of protein and fruits and veggies, so it’s a hearty lunch or dinner, especially with some whole grain bread.
Seasoning this recipe can be tricky. I didn’t give an exact amount of salt, because it depends on how your chicken was cooked. If I’m making this with leftovers, I usually add a little salt. If I’m using rotisserie chicken, I don’t add any.
I usually make this while the baby naps, and I get the big kids in the kitchen to help. They love measuring, mixing, and sampling as we go. Plus, they tend to eat better dinners when they help cook!
Enjoy your healthy dinner!
Today I’m starting this blog post from a crazy loud dance studio watching my girls practice. I’ve been thinking about some ideas for at least 3 days now, so I’m finally getting focused and putting my thoughts down on paper – or, should I say, computer! It’s hard to believe, but sometimes I find the best concentration in a room full of noise. I think this comes from life as a work-from-home mom. There’s always noise, always distractions, and ALWAYS something changing!
Change seems to be the theme of my life lately. Not only is my body changing (by the minute, it seems!) but everything around me is changing too. When your babies are small, other moms always give you the advice that things are constantly changing. That you will figure out their sleep habits one day and it will change two weeks later. This is absolutely true. For me, this change is still happening but it is so much easier with older girls. I can predict their lives a little better. While sleep is always interesting, they do follow a consistent schedule. I know what foods they like and I know a lot about their little and BIG personalities. :)
As 2018 started, I made a promise to myself to embrace three words: chaos, change and clarity. At the time, I knew I was newly pregnant, but I didn’t know so many other things would change during first four months of the year. I didn’t know my girls would both switch schools in the next year. I didn’t know that we would have an Au Pair joining our family later in the year. And I didn’t know that things in my FIT4MOM franchise would continue to change.
I believe, with all my heart, that all of this change is good. It will be hard, no doubt. It is hard already. But I am embracing the change and finding clarity in the chaos. (I have this statement on repeat in my head some days!) Tell me it’s possible, Mamas?!