By Sally Baker and Katie Kirschenmann
Spooktacular bike ride
Baker: The 26th Spooktacular bike ride will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, and will include something for all biking levels — from the “Trembling 20” mile ride to the “Hideous 100,” a 109-mile ride with 10,800-foot climb. In total, the event offers six routes — so no excuses. The ride always offers well-stocked aid stations, great support and is well attended, so you never need to ride alone. Go to www.kernwheelman.org for more information.
Growing loofahs in Kern County
Baker: I was given a handful of black watermelon-looking seeds one day in one of my classes, and I wasn’t really sure what they were, or what to do with them. They were loofah — or luffa — seeds. Once planted, I was told, they would grow into funny looking gourds to use as kitchen or bath sponges. Intrigued, I went home and stuck them in the ground along a fence in full sun. From the eight seeds planted, five vines emerged with big beautiful yellow flowers. Long, strange green fruit started growing, and kept growing until they were about 10 to 14 inches long. Then they slowly started drying out, and the skin turned brown. They should be left on the vine as long as possible before the frost arrives. The plan is to harvest the fruit, and give them as gifts this holiday season. Maybe one lucky reader could win a loofah and a bag of seeds. If anyone has any loofah growing stories, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wild and scenic river half marathon
Baker: For those of you preferring to run instead of ride, how about heading up river to the inaugural “wild and scenic river” half marathon? This event takes place at Dec. This trail run starts at 3,500-foot elevation at McNally’s Fairview Lodge, and finishes at the Mountain & River Adventures campground at 2,700 feet. The route winds along rugged trails beside steep canyon walls where you can enjoy the changing colors of fall. Proceeds go to Run-4-A-Way, a local non-profit focused on improving the fitness of Kern River Valley citizens. For more on the race, go to www.active.com.
Kirschenmann: I am just a few weeks from welcoming my twin girls into the world. My diet is not only important for their health now, but is equally important after they are born when I am nursing. Nursing is not for every mother, and that’s okay. The choice to nurse is both a medical and personal decision that involves advice and guidance from your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician.
In my experience, the best way I found to boost milk production was eating “lactogenic foods.” Eating sufficient calories and foods rich in vitamins and minerals are key to supporting lactation. Avoid empty calories — stay away from sugary foods, soda and baked goodies — and instead eat what will ensure your body functions at an optimal level. Here is my short list of the best lactogenic foods to mix into your everyday balanced diet:
Dark green leafy vegetables. Kale, arugula, spinach and chard are easy to find. If salad is not your thing, stuff a turkey sandwich with spinach or arugula. Another option is to simply sauté kale, spinach or chard with garlic, toss into whole-wheat pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese. Rule of thumb: The darker the leaf, the bigger nutritional punch it packs.
Fennel. Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. I love fennel roasted with leaks and onions — it’s a great healthy side dish. My favorite way to prepare fennel is to sauté thin slices in olive oil along with cherry tomatoes and garlic. When spooned over toasted or grilled whole wheat bread, it makes for a refreshing twist on bruschetta.
Carrots, beets, yams and potatoes. Reddish vegetables, such as beets and carrots, are full of beta-carotene, which are needed during lactation. Baby carrots dipped in hummus are a tasty and satisfying snack. Add carrots to salads and sandwiches for extra crunch. Beets are terrific sources of minerals and iron. Roast them in the oven and serve with slices of goat cheese for a well-balanced side dish, or lunch.
Grains and legumes. Always choose whole grains over more processed products. Oats, barley and rice are versatile and easy to cook, not to mention there are countless recipes to prepare them. Legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils are filling and packed full of fiber and nutrients. Hummus, made from chickpeas, is super yum — eat in place of other less healthy dips and snacks. For lunch, make a bean salad full of your favorite ingredients, dressed with olive oil and lemon. Another suggestion is a family dinner favorite in my house: bean burritos. Use black beans or pinto beans sautéed with garlic, wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla and add assorted veggies, spinach or arugula.
Nuts. Ran nuts supply energy and good fats. Nuts particularly good for nursing moms are almonds, cashews and macadamias. Eat raw and unsalted. I kept a bowl filled with almonds on my kitchen counter and would eat a few throughout the day to keep my energy up.
Oils and fats. Healthy fats play a crucial role for healthy lactation. The kinds of fats a mother eats will end up inside the fats in her milk. You are what you eat, right? It’s a widely accepted good idea to eliminate unhealthy fats, such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fatty acids, from your diet. Drizzle olive oil on salads and put a teaspoon of flaxseed oil in a fruit smoothie. Enjoy a little bit of butter on your toast.
Oatmeal. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning was my lifesaver. That one bowl everyday made a huge difference in my production. It was comforting, filling and delicious topped with a heaping cup of fresh fruit. Do not underestimate the power of the humble little bowl of oatmeal! The oat is regarded as a super-food. Packed with nutrition oats are chock full of proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. If you think you are drinking enough water, drink some more. Water can get boring, yes, but try to avoid the temptation to drink processed fruit drinks and sodas. Try to stay away from caffeine, too. To add some excitement to your daily hydration, add in sparkling water and freshly squeezed fruit juice. Coconut water is an excellent addition to your liquid routine. Coconut water is an acquired taste, but it really is nature’s sports drink.
Talk to your doctor and pediatrician. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or for help. The goal is give your little one the best nutrition. Your doctor will make sure you are on the right path.