Ali Larter has many roles beyond the parts she plays in television and film. The actress is an involved mother of two (a full-time job in its own right), and when she’s not juggling work and mommy duties, she’s cooking up recipes to share on her culinary website, AliLarter.com. In a world that feels more and more fast-paced by the minute, we wanted to know how she manages to balance everything on her plate. We recently caught up with Larter, who kindly took time out of her busy schedule to fill us in on her latest endeavors and lifestyle tips. Ahead, learn her tricks of the trade for getting children to eat their veggies, keeping a clean, toxin-free home, and much more.
MYDOMAINE: For starters, tell us about your latest role in Fox’s new drama pilot, Pitch.
ALI LARTER: I was really excited when I read Pitch, because Dan Fogelman is an incredible writer. He wrote Crazy Stupid Love, Tangled, and other great films. He’s really relatable and has this level of kindness in his writing. So many of the things I’ve worked on in the past have been action-packed, and this script, while it has its own type of action, was truly an inspiring story. Don’t get me wrong, the character is still a spitfire, and I love how she tries to navigate the male-dominated industry of sports. She’s a woman in a man’s world, and Pitch explores everything that comes with that. I think the script will inspire everyone, because the message is powerful: It doesn’t matter your gender, race, or sexual orientation, you should be able to do what your heart desires in this world. And being a mother, that’s just something that I think about all the time.
MD: That's right, you just had your second last year. Was it challenging? How do you manage juggling both your career and your mom duties?
AL: The swing from one to two kids is a really, really big one. Those extra five minutes that you used to have with one child have evaporated with the second. That being said, it’s so beautiful watching my son play with his little sister. And finding him in the crib with her in the morning playing with her. And picking him up from school and him wanting to show her off to his friends. It’s the joy of watching our family grow. And I feel incredibly lucky to experience having a boy and a girl, and learning the differences. In terms of juggling my career and mom duties, I don’t. Whoever has it figured out, please let me know!
MD: What tips do you have for new moms?
AL: Baby-proofing your home may seem like an obvious step as a new mom, but through my two babies, I’ve learned that you need to get on the baby’s level to do this effectively. Crawl around the floor with them and see firsthand what they touch and can reach.
I cook with my kids all the time, and my kitchen is quite often a disaster. If we’re baking, making different batters, scrambling eggs, or making French toast, raw eggs are usually dripping all over the counter. And since raw eggs and meat can carry foodborne illnesses and bacteria, it’s important to not only clean but to disinfect before and after cooking. We use Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, because I know it kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, and it leaves my kitchen counters clean and germ-free.
I think that it's really important for new moms to exercise, as hormones are going through your body and you're adjusting to having a child in the home. I find a lot of strength and confidence through exercise, and it can be a stress reliever at times. If you’re lucky to have a babysitter, it can also serve as “you” time, which is important for any mom, new or otherwise. I make sure it’s part of my schedule so it’s not like, “Oh, I need to exercise today.” It’s already built in to my daily schedule four days a week, whether it’s a 45-minute hike, a yoga class, or jogging with the Baby Bjorn, whatever I can work in that day.
MD: When did you develop a passion for cleanliness for your children?
AL: I think it was when my son was in preschool when kids were coming home sick. It was at that point, I realized, especially in our house when other people are coming over or when we’re going out that small things can make a difference, such as washing your hands and regularly disinfecting surfaces. Also, the fact that I cook so much means our kitchen is always stocked with different meats, poultry, and eggs, which can harbor bacteria. And lastly, being cognizant of the fact that if a child gets sick, it’s much different than if you do.
MD: How did your passion for having a healthy environment trigger your partnership with Lysol?
AL: Germs are something all moms should be aware of and protect against. It’s something I’ve been passionate about since my son was born. So it was kind of perfect when Lysol asked if I wanted to partner with them to help educate new moms on how to help keep their homes healthy. For part of the program, I learned that my baby’s social network is bigger than my own. I’m not talking about Twitter or Instagram, but about the number of germs that she comes into contact with every day. It’s important to be aware of these “followers” and to kick them out of the home by disinfecting commonly touched surfaces with products like Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, so you can have peace of mind and focus on the fun parts of being a new parent!
MD: Okay, so any tips for new moms on how to keep a clean, toxin-free environment for young ones?
AL: I feel like bins are a huge deal. I think it’s important to try to categorize toys and separate into different bins so everything isn’t mounded together. If you end up mixing all of your toys into one big pile, kids don’t even play with them because it becomes too overwhelming.
My sister is a third-grade teacher, and she has two older boys. She’s been really helpful as I’ve become busier, especially after my daughter was born. She taught me you have to multitask constantly and be more efficient. One example is picking out outfits the night before, so you’re not spending 20 minutes deciding that in the morning. Another example is eliminating the breakfast debate and assigning a meal a day: One day is cereal, one day is pancakes, one day is scrambled eggs, one day is egg-in-the-hole, and one day is blueberry muffins. I find these little tricks simplify the mornings and remove some of the stress.
MD: We love that you have your very own cookbook, Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus From My Home to Yours. What are your three favorite recipes from the book and why?
AL: My three favorite recipes are carrot ginger soup, because my children love it and it’s an easy way to get vegetables in; my meatballs, which are in constant rotation at my house; and the triple-berry upside down cake—it’s easy and super delicious.
MD: Tell us about your culinary-focused website, AliLarter.com. What inspired you to take your cookbook to the next level?
AL: It encompasses all of the recipes that I have talked about and developed over the years, and it’s a way for me to be able to share them with people. It’s a way for me to journal what I was already doing. I tend to spend my evenings looking at food websites and reading my cookbooks. I dream about different things that I want to make. Then I develop a recipe. I go to the store. I get all of the ingredients. I cook it at least five times and perfect it. And then I write up the story about the ingredients and photograph it. It’s a long process, but it’s a true joy of mine. I know that other people may not be interested in doing the whole process themselves, but I hope my website is kind of a shortcut for them. And I can just share with them the things that I’ve learned.
MD: Where are some of your favorite places to gather inspiration for your recipes?
AL: I love David Tanis’s A Platter of Figs and My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. I love Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. I love 101 Cookbooks, Smitten Kitchen, Food & Wine magazine, and Mimi Thorisson. She’s a Parisian chef that lives in Bordeaux with her kids. When you look at the pictures in her book, A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse, it’s just so beautiful and perfect. But in no way do I think most people live like that, which is why I think when people look at my website or they look at my cookbook, they think, “Oh my gosh. This is easy. I can do this.” I want to inspire, but I want my recipes to be approachable and practical. Unlike the kitchen in France, my sink has dirty dishes in it.
MD: Any tricks on getting kids to eat their veggies and keep a balanced, nutrient-rich diet? On that note, any tricks for adults?
AL: I have been serving my macaroni and cheese with broccoli in it since the day my kids were born. So they are just used to seeing it that way. Another strategy is dipping. I make this homemade ranch dressing, and it’s like I can’t get them to stop dipping the vegetables in it. My kids love to dip. All that said, there is no way I can get my son to eat any kind of leaf, so sometimes I’m just happy with whatever I can get in his mouth. As for adults, they can be just as difficult, but I try my best to kind of doctor things up and make them super special to draw them in. I make things like cauliflower purée, boiled in chicken broth and topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper; arugula salad with lentils; and fried eggs on top of grilled asparagus, which is just beautiful and delicious. But if you want to keep it easy, chop up some tomatoes, onions, zucchini and garlic, heat it up, add in a little Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got ratatouille.
MD: What is your best piece of advice on the subject of parenting?
AL: This might be cliché advice, but I think it’s true: Everything goes by so fast, so even in the most frustrating moments, after you walk away and take a breath, remind yourself that very soon this shall pass, and make sure you appreciate every moment as soon as it does.
MD: What does your daily morning routine consist of?
AL: I get up with my kids around 6:30 or 7 a.m., get Vivian her bottle, and then go downstairs to make breakfast. Sometimes before I start breakfast, my son and I get on the floor and color together. He loves to color! While he continues coloring, I finish making breakfast, and then we eat together. Then we all go upstairs and get ready to start our day, which begins with a little music. Each morning, someone picks a song that we listen to as a family as we get ready. Lately, my son has been picking the Star Wars theme song. I'm more into a little “Halleluiah,” but Star Wars it is. I think it’s important to figure out creative ways to slow things down and keep things a little calmer in the morning, because the day can unfold into hectic madness.
MD: What tips do you have for getting out of the house quickly while still looking polished and put together?
AL: When I need to put myself together and it’s last minute, there’s nothing better than a crisp, white shirt and a pair of jeans. Throw on a pair of heels, and you’re done. That is my go-to when I need to feel put together in a rush, because it’s casual yet clean and polished. To ensure you have this outfit at the ready, I always have one pressed white shirt and a great pair of jeans in my closet ready to go. It’s much easier than trying to put together some clever, trendy outfit. I don’t know who has the time for that, especially not anyone with kids. I promise you that.
For more delicious recipes shop Ali Larter’s cookbook below, and let us know what you’ll be cooking in the comments!