By Molly McGonigle
Molly Ringwald reigned in the '80s with "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" by being the girl every girl could relate to. (Side note: Isn't it awesome that those movies still make teenagers feel like someone gets them?) With "Secret Life of the American Teenager" being a major success, and having a family to boot, Ringwald seems to have it all. Fulfilling my 13-year-old self's dream, Wonderwall chatted with Ringwald about motherhood, making time for family and beating the teenage diet blues.
Wonderwall: Why don't we get started with you telling us a little bit about your new partnership with Ragu?
Molly Ringwald: Well my new partnership right now is that I'm helping Ragu launch their Old World Style traditional traditional pasta sauce, which has two servings of vegetables in every half-cup. I think that's kind of a godsend to someone like me because I have the pickiest 6-year-old on the planet, who if you even mention the word "vegetable" to her, she runs screaming from the room. So it's kind of a great thing. If she eats this pasta sauce right out the jar I know she's getting the nutrition that she needs. And also people can log on into Facebook.com/RaguSauce and the first 50 people who uploads pictures of their kids at the table will get a month's supply of the sauce. It's a pretty cool contest.
WW: What's your kids' favorite thing to eat for dinner?
MR: Pasta. Far and away, I think it's pasta. It's the easiest thing to prepare, and it's the surefire crowd pleaser. You know, and we've always tried to sneak extra things in there, like layer the sauce with extra vegetables. I think that's why knowing that they have that many vegetables in a half a cup of sauce is really great. Other than that, she likes pizza, she likes soup. But if we feed her soup we always have to purée it because if she spots anything that looks like a vegetable she doesn't want to eat it. I happen to have the world's pickiest eater. And then I have two 14-month-old twins, but right now they'll eat everything. So we're hoping they stay that way.
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WW: As a parent, what's your favorite thing to make for dinner?
MR: My favorite thing to make, my specialty, is roasted chicken. But that usually ends up being something that's for me and my husband and my twins and we always have to make sure we've made something else in addition to that for my 6-year-old. That's my favorite thing. And then my husband who's Greek always does Greek night--anything that's Greek is all him.
WW: Why is it important for you to carve time out of your hectic schedule to have family dinner?
MR: Well it's really a tradition that I grew up with in my family. We always had to eat at the table. It was a time for the family to connect and talk about the day and maybe learn new vocabulary words or what have you. But mostly it was just a way to connect as a family and my husband had the same tradition in his family so it's really something we try to do in our family. Because all of us have such busy schedules, we really have to make sure that we make that time to eat together.
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WW: Do you have any advice for parents trying to get their kids to eat healthy even though parents might be busy?
MR: I think that if they got to Facebook.com/RaguSauce they can get really great ideas, really easy-to-make recipes using the Ragu sauce. Other than that, I think just continue to introduce your kids to food. They can turn it down ten times, and then the eleventh time that they try it, they'll be like "Oh, I like this." And that's certainly been the case with me. I tried to get my daughter to eat broccoli over and over and over again and it just seemed like a lost cause. But the doctor kept saying just give it to her. And then sure enough, after a while she said "Oh, I really like this." You just never know and can't give up. Just keep introducing them, and then maybe one day they'll eat it.
WW: On a different note, you started in this industry when you were still very young. Do you have any advice for young girls to eat healthy and still look good?
MR: I really think that everybody's metabolism is different, so I don't think that what works for one person is necessarily going to work for somebody else. But I think the most important thing is to try to eat in moderation and eat foods that are healthy rather than foods that make you skinny. In my house it is absolutely forbidden to talk about diets or talk about being fat or being skinny. Every thing we talk about nutrition-wise is all about brain food. When Mathilda says, "Why do I have to eat this?" We say "Well, because your brain has to function and if you don't eat these foods then your brain can't work as well as it needs to. And then you can't figure out those math puzzles at school or you can't figure out how to spell." Things like that. And really just focus it on the brain rather than the body. Because kids too young grow up with really wacky self-images and it just comes at them from everywhere: television, magazines, and everything. So we really just try to keep it focused on what it does for your brain rather than your body.
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WW: Switching gears, does being a mom help you play your role on "Secret Life of the American Teenager"?
MR: I think so, but you know, it's interesting. I play a mom on television, but I play the mom of teenage kids. And I'm not there yet in my real life. So I still have to use my imagination, and I really sort of recall what it was like being a teenager more than my ability as a mom. Because I can't imagine what it would be like to have your 15-year-old daughter tell you that she's pregnant. That is just something that I hope that I never encounter. It's really me more using my imagination than experience.
WW: Is there any celebrity you think does a good job of balancing family and work?
MR: I don't know a lot of celebrities. All of my best friends are people that I grew up with and have known for years and years and years. But I will say that just after I had my daughter Mathilda, I was walking her three months after I had had her, if that. I was walking home and trying to figure out how to manage my stroller up the stairs of my brownstone. They were filming a movie on the street and Catherine Keener jumped up and helped me with my stroller and was like, "I know what this is like. I have kids. Don't worry. Hang in there. It gets easier." It always meant so much to me. I love her movies and I know that she's a mom so I just assume she does a pretty good job of balancing it all.
WW: Is there anything else you want our fans and readers to know about your deal with Ragu?
MR: No, I think we covered it all. I just want to make sure that everyone goes to Facebook.com/RaguSauce and gets
their cute pictures of their kids up there.