The Way We Eat: Jenny Schatzle, Mom of Twins and Gym Owner in Santa Barbara, California

Name: Jenny Schatzle
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Who eats together? 2 adults and 2 toddler girls
Avoidances? None.

Jenny Schatzle is a gym owner, motivational speaker, wife, and mom to 2-year-old-twin girls, Hope and Haven. She also has the funniest, sweetest, most gently inspiring fitness Instagram account, which often shows her doing crunches while her toddlers try to play along. Jenny will be the first to admit that she barely knew how to cook before she had kids, but she’s learning. Here’s what an entrepreneur and mom of twin toddlers eats, and how she makes it all work!

You own a gym! What does a typical day look for you?
A typical day for me is waking up at 5:30 a.m. (30 minutes before my kids). I make coffee, have a glass of lemon water, and meditate for five to 10 minutes and journal for 15 minutes. I believe one positive action in the morning can change your whole day, so how I start my day sets me up for the rest of the day!

Our twin girls, who turned 2 at the beginning of the month, usually get up at 6 a.m. and I love my morning with them. We start with reading a couple of books, singing some songs, maybe dancing around a little bit, and then eat breakfast, which usually consists of my oatmeal banana pancakes or eggs and toast. They love smoothies, so I usually add that to whatever they are eating. Then Elva, who is our everything, comes to help with the girls. I quickly change and head up to my gym.

I usually work out at the 8:15 a.m. class and then teach the next two or three classes or I head to our office. Currently I am working on a book and online program so when I’m not at the gym that’s what I’m working on. I stop work at 3 p.m., go home, and take the girls to the park or beach and try to wear them out! We come home and I let the girls watch Daniel Tiger (our favorite family show) while I get dinner ready. We eat dinner between 5:30 and 6 p.m., then bath time, milk, books, and bed by 7:30 p.m. My husband is a firefighter, so this is what it looks like when he’s gone. When he’s home he usually cooks dinner! 

  • Biggest challenge in eating? Eating at the same time.
  • Percentage of meals you cook at home every week? I cook about 6 meals per week. My husband does the rest!
  • 5 things on your grocery list every week? Bananas, oatmeal, crackers, salad fixings, eggs.
  • Where do you shop, primarily? Trader Joe’s and the farmers market.
  • What’s the last food thing you splurged on? Meat from the farmers market.
  • Favorite snack? Trader Joe’s multi-seed Tamari soy sauce crackers.
  • Best cooking tip? If you can read, you can cook. From my celebrity chef friend, Cat Cora!
  • The 3 meals you could eat every day and not get tired of: Frozen pizza, pasta with Traders Joe’s pesto sauce, and quesadillas.
  • Cookbook you actually cook out of? Thug Kitchen (although we are not vegans).
  • Who does the dishes in your home? Everyone.

What are your biggest struggles in feeding yourself and your family?
Getting the family to all eat at the same time. My husband, Conor, likes to eat late and it’s really important to me to have family dinner. We try as hard as we can to all eat together, but on the nights it doesn’t happen my husband and I make an effort to sit down at the table instead of the TV and eat together after we put the girls down! 

What is the last thing you cooked that brought you joy?
Oatmeal pancakes. It truly is my favorite meal that I make!

Do you think it’s hard to find that joy regularly in cooking and eating as a parent?
As parents, we’re already insecure about everything that we need to do, and on top of that we are constantly looking at other people’s social media highlight reels. I’m trying to change that conversation. I want to remind everyone that if you’re making an effort, you’re doing a good job.

How do you try to shift that in your own thinking?
One thing I like to say is that five minutes is better than no minutes. I own a gym and can’t always make it to the gym. But if you just have five minutes of movement, you’ll feel better physically — and your attitude will change, too. The same thing applies to the kitchen. We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything right, but really we’re all just doing our best.

How would you describe yourself as a cook?
My husband is the cook in our family, although I’m learning. (He cleans too!) It’s fun to watch him teach me things. It doesn’t matter if I burn it. Whatever I’m making he’s like, “Yes, it’s good, you’re trying.” It definitely brought us closer together — especially having twins. We are forced to work as a team.

Did having twins change the way you cook and eat?
In the years before I had kids, I was working really hard to change my relationship with food. Now I believe that food isn’t good or bad — we just eat it. All foods fit; we don’t restrict anything or believe in dieting of any kind. I want to be a good example for my girls. It’s important to have a positive relationship with food and cooking.

I can’t blame myself as their parent if they don’t eat.

What are their eating habits like?
They wear the same clothes, and we feed them the same foods. Hope will eat everything on her plate and Haven might eat nothing and ask for crackers. As parents, we’re always trying to do better, put vegetables on the plate, and do this and that, but it doesn’t matter. Kids just eat what they eat. That doesn’t stop us from introducing them to new foods, or putting veggies on their plate. But I can’t blame myself as their parent if they don’t eat.

What are your weeknight dinners like?
My husband has a couple of really good recipes. We like to turn to Thug Kitchen; it’s a vegan cookbook, but in no way are we vegan. There’s this chickpea Bolognese in there, though, that’s a staple in our house. He also makes this chicken and veggie stir-fry with homemade soy sesame sauce.

One thing we make every night is a huge salad. We always put it on the kids’ plates, whether they eat it or not. Sometimes they will — with a good dressing!

Do you have any specialties?
Besides my oatmeal pancakes, I make lots of PB&J, and pasta with pesto. It’s the easiest thing in the world. I am very much about keeping it simple. My husband is gone a lot so I actually do have to do a lot of the cooking. But the one thing I hate most is when you’re done with the whole thing and you have to frickin’ clean up.

Agreed. What’s your strategy there?
Our girls just love rice and it’s such a pain to clean up. I have this 10-minute cleanup routine. I set the stove timer, do as much as I can, and then I’m done. Usually in 10 (okay, maybe 12 minutes) I get the whole kitchen clean. I’m a big timer person.

What else do your kids really love?
Smoothies are a big one. I actually have a smoothie named after me in the Whole Foods in Santa Barbara. The Schatzle Smoothie. It has almond milk, protein powder, banana, strawberries, spinach, kale, lots of peanut nutter, and avocado. The girls love it. Actually everybody gets it. It’s a big hit in Santa Barbara.

Any other life-changing tips you’ve learned now that you’re a mom?
I feel like I’m a new parent every day. You’re winging it no matter what. It looks like everyone is doing it so easily, but nobody is. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. If you have to make a box of mac and cheese, make a box of mac and cheese. Every day is a new day. One thing I do do, though, is make big batches of things. I’ll make corkscrew pasta (because I know they’ll eat it) and put it in little Stasher bags, and when we leave the house I grab them. We always have crackers. It’s like meal prepping!

Editor:Ariel Knutson
Editorial Advisor: Leela Cyd

The Way We Eat is a series of profiles and conversations with people like you about how they feed themselves and their families.

We’re actively looking for people to feature in this series. You don’t have to be famous or even a good cook! We’re just interested in seeing how people all over the country feed themselves and their families.If you’d like to share your own story with us, or if you know of someone you think would be great for this series, start with this form and we’ll be in touch.

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