Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life is serving up a heaping plateful of table talk with people who are passionate about what's on their menu in Deglazed, a series about food.
Actress Jenny Mollen has appeared in shows like Angel and Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise and written New York Times best-selling books like I Like You Just The Way I Am and City of Likes. With a huge and varied career behind her many, including Mollen herself, are shocked that her latest claim to fame is ... school lunches.
"Never would I have ever believed you [if you had said] ... you're going to be known for making kids lunches," says Mollen. "The way this all came about, it was really more about me wanting to tell a story and wanting to sublimate my own guilt as a working mom into something my kids could take to school with them and feel a sense of constancy, like I was still around with them — so I just started getting into this school lunch thing."
Mollen released her first cookbook, Dictator Lunches, earlier this month. It's named after her foodie Instagram account of the same name, where Mollen has been sharing the elaborate bento-style lunches she makes for her sons, Sid, 8, and Lazlo, 4, for years. The 43-year-old actress shares she's found these edible tokens of love to be healing for not only her children, but for her as well.
"I found it to be really therapeutic — almost my own version of a hand-written note I send to school each day with my kids," Mollen explains. "I would be lying if I didn't say these are almost my way of re-parenting myself, because these are the lunches I wish somebody had made for me."
Like many parents, the mom of two reports not all of her lunches are as much of a hit with her children as they are online. So how does she handle the rejection of having a kid refuse to eat the lunch she lovingly prepared?
"I feel like they should have the same palate I have when I send something to school that makes my mouth water — that I wish I was eating — and then it comes back in the same condition and I'm a little bummed," she says, "but I try not to take it personally."
Mollen says although kids may not eat every element of a packed lunch, having a variety of foods as an option is an important piece of the puzzle for parents trying to get their kids to try new things. "I do think the battle is really won in just constantly exposing them," she says. "I don't think you can get too attached to the outcome when you're feeding kids because it's their first go at it. They're still learning."
Mollen, who spoke to Yahoo Life as a part of her recent partnership with Egglife shares that the wraps produced by the company seldom make their way back home. "What I love about Egglife is it's a great alternative to a normal flour or a bread," she says. "It's a wrap with five grams of protein — all it is is two egg whites and it's so versatile."
Adding protein and removing a bit of sugar is a huge benefit for Mollen and her family, as she likes to keep her Dictator Lunches fun, delicious and healthful.
"I'm always looking for ways to feed kids without just plying them with a bunch of bread," she shares. "I feel like when you have kids, you start to notice everyone wants to give them sugar at every turn. For me, my job is to really scale back on the sugar, because I'm aware everywhere else I turn somebody is offering my kid something sweet."
Mollen met her husband, actor Jason Biggs, on set while filming the 2008 romantic comedy My Best Friend's Girl. She says if they could go anywhere in the world for a date night, it would be across the globe for dinner. "I would go back to Thailand," she says. "I just came from Thailand and I was eating at this place Jay Fai — she was a food cart chef for years and now she has a Michelin star."
"She makes the most incredible crab omelets and congee (rice porridge) that just makes your mouth water," Mollen adds, "the spices, the flavor, the boldness — I would want to have another meal there."
No date night dinner is complete without dessert, of course, and for this couple — they've had their fill of the classic apple pie, thanks to Biggs' iconic scene in the 1999 coming-of-age comedy American Pie.
"I've had more free apple pies in my life than anyone you've ever met," says Mollen. "Jason does like pie, but I'm not a pie person. I'm always like, 'Why did you not have sex with a Rice Krispie Treat, or like a big loaf of challah bread?' I'm bummed that it was a pie."
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