Tiffani Theissen has had a lot on her plate recently, figuratively and literally. Season two of her Cooking Channel show, "Dinner at Tiffani's," premiered February 3, she's working with Quaker to find the next great oatmeal flavor, and she has two little ones in the house: 5 1/2-year-old Harper, and 6-month-old Holt. Parents.com chatted with her about food and motherhood, and how they are both so interconnected.
Parents.com: What new things are in store for season two of "Dinner at Tiffani's"?
Tiffani Thiessen: New episodes mean a lot of new recipes! And we have some returning guests and a lot of new guests as well. I think probably the most anticipated person coming on is my old "Saved by the Bell" costar, Mark-Paul Gosselaar. He and his really beautiful wife come on for a double date with me and my husband for a little lobster boil.
P: What are your go-to recipes for busy weeknights?
TT: We do a lot of flatbread pizzas. It's definitely the most requested item that I do for my kid. We do roasted chicken a lot, and my husband is a big Texas boy, so he likes his steaks. These days it's been a lot of soups because it's more in the cold realm for California—not as cold as it is back east, of course—but we've definitely had some cold nights.
P: Does Harper help out in the kitchen?
TT: She loves to help! She has her own little stool and her own little tools, and she already wants to do her own recipes. I just started teaching her how to work with a knife (very safely!), so she thinks she's pretty cool with that.
P: What tips can you offer other parents who'd like to get their kids more involved with cooking?
TT: I always say it's best to lead by example. I find kids want to do what their parents are doing when they see that they're having fun, and I do! I have a lot of fun in the kitchen. She even has fun doing dishes because she sees that it's part of what we do. We also grow a lot of our own food, and she gets really excited about going out and grabbing vegetables from our garden or picking out the eggs from the chicken coop, and then seeing where it all goes after that by cooking it.
P: Are there any foods you won't let your daughter eat?
TT: There's a lot of things that I don't really want her eating a lot of, but does it mean that it's not going to happen? Of course not. I try to be realistic in this sense because she goes to birthday parties and she's going to have sugar, but as long as I know that she's eating all the other things that are really good for her—eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and having a balanced diet—then of course she can have that cupcake at a party.
P: Now that you have a second child, are there any things you'd like to improve or do differently?
TT: There were many years when Harper was much more of a picky eater. We're doing much better with it now, but a few years ago it was very frustrating. She just wouldn't try anything new and she only wanted certain things that she liked. We're pushing her more and more now and she's doing much better, but I want to try and be better at that with my son now. I'm hoping that I can push him at an earlier stage to try new things.