If you know Tiffani Thiessen from her iconic roles on Saved by the Bell and 90210 (there was an “Amber” in her name back then), it may surprise you to learn the actor now hosts a cooking show, has a cookbook coming out, and regularly shares her adventures as a mom in the kitchen on her lifestyle website. (She’s also on a new Netflix show, Alexa and Katie, premiering in 2018.)
“I’ve always considered myself a home cook,” she says. “I love being artistic as an actor, and for me cooking is another artistic outlet. That’s how I’ve always looked at it.”
It’s also one of the major ways she says she connects with and teaches healthy habits to her seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old soon.
She partnered with Uncle Ben’s #BensBeginners initiative to share that message, and we caught up with her to learn more. Tomorrow, by the way, is “Cook with Your Kids Day,” so consider this your inspiration to participate. (Keri will be in the kitchen with Rex and Maizy!)
Q&A With Tiffani Thiessen
You’ve been acting almost your whole life—how did you get interested in cooking? I’ve actually always had a love for cooking. Ever since I was little I have such vivid memories of being in the kitchen with my mom and aunt and grandmother, and it just kind of expanded as I got older, going from my love of traveling and experiencing different cuisines, and then wanting to entertain, and then being a mom and wanting to provide for my family. All of my skills were from my family and then trial and error. I’ve definitely gotten to know people in the food world and that has also influenced me…but I’m not at all professionally trained.
Why are you so interested in getting your kids in the kitchen with you? My children are always cooking alongside me. It really can lead your children to eating healthier, and there are even statistics that shows kids have higher academic achievements [when they cook with their parents]. My daughter was very much a picky eater—my son never was, he eats everything— and throwing her in the kitchen more and more and having her actually see what goes into prepping a meal, even just the smells in the kitchen and then there’s just so much love involved…It gets her excited to try something new. It’s definitely changed a lot.
What do you consider a healthy diet? For me, it’s been very much about balance. I do love good food, and so during the week I try to be very much on the healthier side of things, not splurging, making sure I go to the gym, try not to have wine during the week. And then I give myself a little more leeway on the weekends. I’ve been doing that for a while. It doesn’t always apply. I really try to stick to that 80-20 percent, like a lot of people.
Do you have go-to meals you make often for your family? I always try to get my kids involved in wanting to tell me what they want to eat. I feel like that helps in getting them interested in healthy meals. Harper [her daughter] loves fried rice, so I’ll throw every single vegetable from my fridge into it. My husband is a Texas boy, he’s a big meat and potatoes guy, so anything on the grill. I like to ask my family because I like to please. I’m a people pleaser.
We know how crazy being a working mom can be. We all have our tricks to find time to cook—what’s yours? I try to do a lot of my shopping and prepping on the weekends. Usually it ends up being on a Sunday. It really cuts the time down drastically when it comes to dinner time. Everything’s already chopped, sliced, put together before it needs to go in the oven or whatever. I have a much easier time getting good meals on the table when I do this.