Tiffani Thiessen: This Earthy Hobby “Brings Me Back to My Roots”
"It's where I find so much joy and grounding," says the TV host, actor and cookbook author.
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As Kelly Kapowski on the classic 1990s series Saved by the Bell, Tiffani Thiessen might have spent a whole lot of time eating diner food at The Max...but in reality, Thiessen reveals, she’s never been much of a diner girl.
Thiessen, 49, was actually raised cooking and now spends much of her free time in her garden, growing her own food for her husband and two children. This spring, she learned that even green thumbs like her need help every now and then. Thiessen recently teamed up with the garden experts over at Lowe’s for help on her stubborn avocado trees, which she said were not reaching their full fruitful potential. (Yes, the avocado is a fruit!)
As the host of her current MTV series, Deliciousness, a new cookbook coming in late 2023, entitled Here We Go Again—a fun play on maximizing leftovers—Thiessen reveals she’s also a big composter (let no food go to waste!).
This week, she sat down with The Healthy @Readers Digest to chat all things gardening, health and how being outdoors keeps her spirits up and stress levels low.
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The Healthy @Readers Digest: Spending more time in nature has been linked with improving mood and reducing anxiety. Have you noticed any positive benefits since you started gardening?
Tiffani Thiessen: Definitely! For me, gardening is so rewarding and a hobby I’m very passionate about. I especially love the connection it helps me make to nature, not to mention the stress relief and the sense of pride I feel when harvesting what I’ve grown. I also love the quality time it provides my family and me. Gardening really brings us together in nature and around our table as we enjoy the fruits of our labor, and I hope to continue to treasure that quality time and memories built.
The Healthy: In Blue Zones—regions of the world where people tend to live longer than average—the one activity that people who live to 100 were generally found to have in common was outdoor work, including gardening. What’s your take on why this might be the case?
Tiffani Thiessen: It is so fascinating! I imagine it’s a combination of a couple of things. First, the stress relief and positive impact we constantly see proven as tied to mood and health—I know this is true for myself! And second, growing your own sustenance: Being in control of the herbs and produce that you’re putting into your body.
The Healthy: How has being outdoors helped you through difficult times?
Tiffani Thiessen: My garden is my happy place, it’s where I find so much joy and grounding. And it’s for all the reasons I’ve mentioned—stress relief, connection, quality time—that I think that it’s become this sanctuary and place of refuge for me through the years.
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The Healthy: What changes for you being in nature?
Tiffani Thiessen: Gardening really helps me feel grounded and brings me back to my roots—pun intended. Not only do I experience a connection and level of stress relief when I’m spending time in my garden, but I also really enjoy the challenge. I also continue to expand my knowledge around growing various plants, vegetables and fruits, as well as composting.
Rebecca Sanabria/Courtesy Lowe's
The Healthy: You’ve told us before that you grow a lot of your own food, like avocados and other fruits. What gardening tips do you have?
Tiffani Thiessen: Over the past few years, I have really leaned into my passion for gardening, cooking and composting … I have recently had issues with my avocado tree not blooming to its full potential. Lowe’s helped me understand that avocado trees actually need two trees close together to pollinate one another and bear the best fruit. Who knew!
The Healthy: Were you always into healthy eating even when you were young and surrounded by craft food tables on set?
Tiffani Thiessen: From a young age, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, we all gathered in the kitchen to cook together. We got creative with recipes, leftovers—the inspiration for my new book!—so I’ve always really had an affinity and a connection with cooking well and reducing food waste.
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Tiffani Thiessen’s self-care routine
The Healthy: What does your health care routine like?
Tiffani Thiessen: I love leading an active lifestyle. I’m in the gym a lot, sometimes five days a week! And I also love weight training, ice baths and Pilates. Being outside is also an inherent part of my health routine. Whether hiking or spending time in my garden, I love taking in the outdoors and staying in motion!
The Healthy: What is one self-care habit that you refuse to skip?
Tiffani Thiessen: Taking time to reset with myself and my family is something I never skip. And a lot of that quality time is spent in the garden, caring for our fruit trees and beds of vegetables. It’s truly my favorite hobby, and taking the time to center myself in my “happy place” helps me thrive in every other role in my life.
The Healthy: What’s next for you?
Thiessen: My new cookbook, Here We Go Again, is all about making the most out of any meal and what’s left over from it. For me, reducing food waste was instilled at a young age, and it’s something that I hope to pay forward and inspire in others with my new book. Composting is another easy, yet sustainable way to reduce food waste. It may seem intimidating and time-consuming, but it really isn’t!
Deliciousness is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my career—it’s food, it’s fun, it’s totally my jam!
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