Actress and mother of three Jennie Garth, best known for her role as Kelly Taylor on the TV series "Beverly Hills 90210," is now a spokesperson for Hidden Valley's "Love Your Veggies" campaign. Garth talks to us about life with three daughters, veggie advocacy, and her upcoming projects.
Once upon a time - the 1990s to be exact - Jennie Garth was pretty much defined by her signature TV portrayal of teenage ingénue Kelly Taylor in the hit series 90210. Today, however, while still a working actress, Garth has taken on a couple of new roles: mom and spokesperson for the often unsung heroes of the produce section-vegetables.
"I was shocked to find out how many kids are not provided with fruits and vegetables every day, which is why I joined forces with Hidden Valley's Love Your VeggiesTM campaign," notes Garth. "As a mom, I know that dinnertime can be a struggle to get picky eaters to touch the vegetables on their plates, and I strive to teach my own kids important lessons about good nutrition and foster an appreciation for vegetables. We have our own garden and have a great appreciation for fresh vegetables at our house."
A vegetarian herself, Garth's on a mission to introduce kids to the tasty/fun side of vegetables (check her out on the iVillage.com Webisode series Garden Party, sponsored by Hidden ValleyTM). In the process, she's come up with a number of helpful tips for parents who, up until now, have been stymied in their efforts to convert veg-o-phobic offspring to healthier eating habits.
Here are some ideas Garth recommends - based on personal experience, of course!
Story Time: Break out the kid friendly books that tell stories about veggies (Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli or Kitchen for Kids, e.g.). If you get kids thinking about veggies during a fun activity, they will crave them and not find them as unappetizing as they did before.
Play Hide and Seek: Add a secret veggie to one of your family's favorite dishes and challenge the kids to guess what it is! Consider adding carrots to your marinara sauce or a new veggie to your lasagna. You can even add zucchini or squash to your favorite cake or bread recipe to really keep the kids guessing.
Make it a Favorite: Integrate veggies into your kid's favorite dishes. Put a new twist on mac and cheese by adding broccoli or make pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. For kid friendly recipes, visit hiddenvalley.com.
Get Creative: Anyone can grow a cucumber in a garden, but how about growing one in a bottle? Or try coming up with fun names for the veggies, like "mini green trees" for broccoli.
Knowledge is Power: Research fun facts about veggies you are serving at dinner and play a pop quiz game. "Which has more vitamin C-an orange or a pepper?" (Peppers have three times as much). "Do potatoes have a lot, a little, or no salt?" (They're sodium free).
It's a Family Affair: Have your kids help in the kitchen. Start by sending them to a kids cooking class to learn kitchen fundamentals, then invest in a lettuce knife (big, plastic and less than $10), perfect for young sous chefs since they reduce the risk of injury while still being strong enough to cut through favorite veggies.
For veggie friendly recipes, games and more visit: www.LoveYourVeggies.com.
At Work: Actress, currently starring as Kelly Taylor on 90210, the 2008 updated version of the series that launched her career in 1990. Having graduated from teen status, she now plays West Beverly High's guidance counselor. She has also appeared in numerous films and TV projects, including making it to Dancing With The Stars semifinals in 2007.
At Home: Los Angeles. Mother of three daughters: Luca Bella, 12, Lola Ray, 7, and Fiona Eve, 3 1/2. Husband: Peter Facinelli: Actor/entertainer/storyteller, therapist, problem solver, chauffeur, world's best husband.
Future Projects: "I am starring in a movie for the Hallmark Channel that my husband wrote and I'm also working on some children's books," reports Garth, who says the first of the books should hit the shelves in February 2011. "Just in time for Valentine's Day!"
Q. What is your favorite activity with your kids?
Playing outside, horseback riding, blowing bubbles, and gardening. We love to spend time together. We don't care what we are doing as long as we are together. [In addition to enjoying time together at home in L.A., the family also unwinds at their ranch in Northern California.]
Q. What is the most important lesson you try to impart to your daughters?
To be gracious and kind and to look people in the eye when they speak to them. And, of course, to eat well.
Q. Who was your greatest child raising influence, and why?
My parents, because they did a great job raising me and my siblings. We also accept that our girls are going to be who they are going to be, and we will support them 100 percent.
Q. What is your approach to discipline?
We have time-outs at our house. Listening and respect are also very important in our family. I'm very old-fashioned when it comes to parenting, and consistency and a routine are our philosophies.
Q. What was a memorable family outing?
Anytime we all pile into our RV, especially when my husband is driving! We also do everything that any other family does, including eating dinner together every night. Family dinners are a lost art in our society. It isn't even about trying, it's about doing. It's about being together as a unit, no matter what you're doing.