Beloved Good Morning America host Joan Lunden is launching her new cookware line, Twiztt by Joan Lunden, which has nonstick ceramic coating that contains no toxic chemicals. As a mother-of-seven, Joan says that “everything I work on these days is as a health advocate.”
Joan opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her “noisy, noisy house” with ”two sets of twins that are seven and nine-years-old and only twenty months apart.” And not to mention her three grown daughters! The GMA alum also talks about her positive experience using a gestational carrier for her twins, and she shares some of her best tips on staying organized and keeping the romance alive amidst her busy schedule.
CBS: Tell us about your new cookware line, Twiztt by Joan Lunden. What inspired you to create the line?
JL: “The new cookware line is called Twiztt and it is available at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. The reason why we decided to name the cookware line ‘Twiztt’ is because pots and pans have been the same for decades and decades. When we put the line together, we gave every single item a new twist to make it more innovative, so that it would be a line of smarter cookware. I think Twiztt is the first cookware line with a new twist to come along in a long time, because they’ve pretty much always been the same.
I can’t say that I designed the line; I got on board about two years ago when The Cookware Company in Belgium approached me. They had invented a new kind of nonstick ceramic coating that contained no toxic chemicals in it. For the last four decades, the nonstick cookware we have been using was made with toxic chemicals. We kind of knew that, as the reports came out here and there, but I don’t know if people fully grasp how every time they heat up these old pans, they are releasing toxic fumes and poisoning themselves. When they came to me, I jumped across my desk to be able to be a part of providing Americans with the convenience that they love in a healthy way. I wanted to make it so they could cook really healthy recipes without using unhealthy pans.
That’s what got me on board. They came to me because they saw that I was a journalist, a truth-seeker who people would look to for reliable information, but who was also a health advocate. At the core of Joan Lunden, everything I work on these days is as a health advocate.”
CBS: How do you implement your healthy living/easy solutions philosophy into your daily life?
JL: “As you can see, I am trying to do everything I can to make sure that I use healthy products in my house, and that goes to everything. I made a clean sweep in my house to make sure that whether I am buying a spray wash to clean my tables off or buying dishwashing liquids, I make a concerted effort to not buy anything that contains toxic ingredients. It’s kind of alarming how much we use in our home. Sometimes there is more pollution inside our home than there is outside, which is scary! I make a huge effort to look at labels and make sure that I am not using products with toxic ingredients.
I also had to learn how to be a healthy cook and eat healthy as a grown up. I was raised by a real Midwestern mom who thought meat, potatoes, and anything that has sauce on it or lots of butter was great [laughs]. I had to learn this as an adult, as a working mom with three kids who had never lost all the weight after each child. I said to myself, ‘Holy cow, can I really be 45 pounds overweight? How did that happen?’
I made this huge turnaround in my life when I was turning 40 years old. I really educated myself on good nutrition and how to incorporate exercise into my life. I know that I added years to my life and I certainly improved the quality of my life. I also know that it had a wonderful impact on my children and my family. I think it helped to put me on this path, where I now dedicate pretty much my entire career to television shows, books, campaigns, and now product lines that help improve the health of Americans. That is now the essence of my work.”
CBS: You’re a mom of seven! Do they all get along? What is everyone into?
JL: “Of course! I won’t lie; our house is one noisy, noisy house! I would have to say, with two sets of twins that are seven and nine-years-old and only twenty months apart, they are probably all over-stimulated by each other 24/7. It’s kind of like having one never-ending, continuous playdate/sleepover. Other than that, they are all great friends who are incredibly protective of each other.
However, I must say that everything is a competition. Right now this works to my advantage, as I can get them to do absolutely anything if I make it a competition. I will ask, ‘Who can brush their teeth, get in their jammies, and be in bed first?’ They will literally knock each other over trying to get up the stairs to be first. It is good as long as it lasts.
In regard to what all the kids are into, I can pretty much tell you that our lives are consumed by travel soccer. I had to put four travel soccer schedules together, along with basketball. I married a guy who puts on summer camps for children, who has a climbing wall and seventeen tennis courts. Yeah, I’m no dummy [laughs].
Also, he’s a guy who runs the house very much like camp, and it’s a huge help. He’s not daunted by the four little kids. After having three kids while working on Good Morning America’s schedule of getting up everyday at 3:30 a.m. and traveling the world all the time and taking them with me, I really seriously don’t think I was terribly daunted the second time around. I think if I survived Good Morning America having three kids, I can survive anything.”
CBS: You carried your first three children, while your last four (which were 2 sets of twins) were carried by a surrogate. What was that experience like for you? Was it positive? Did you use the same surrogate twice? Do you recommend surrogacy?
JL: “It was a wonderful experience for us. As you get a little older and it’s harder to keep a pregnancy, we decided that it wasn’t really my challenge to see if I could get pregnant; the challenge was how to start a family again. I remarried and we ended up using a surrogate. We weren’t going for twins, but I am here to tell you, if you put in more than one embryo, you can get more than one kid.
We had a set of twins, and they were carried by a wonderful woman out in Cincinnati, Ohio. She had three children that are around the same age as my older girls. She is a solid citizen with a religious look at life that says family is important. To her, the most incredible thing in life was to be able to do something to help another couple have a child. It was something that she read about in a magazine when she was twenty-two-years-old. When her husband proposed to her, she stopped him and said, ‘I just have to let you know one thing. Someday I am going to be a surrogate and I have to know that you will be with me on this.’ Her husband kind of laughed and said, ‘Okay, sure honey! Anything you want.’ The day came where she went back to him and said, ‘This is something that I want to do. I can make a difference in the world.’
She helped another couple in Belgium, and then she helped us. She had both of our sets of twins. Then she said, ‘This is it. If you want any more kids, you will have to get another surrogate.’ I said to her, ‘If he wants any more kids, he is going to need a new wife [laughs]!’
It was a wonderful experience and it’s all about starting families. Surrogacy is wonderful, and it’s great that we have such a viable option open to couples today who are struggling to start a family or continue a family. A lot of women have second child infertility. I absolutely recommend surrogacy, and I also recommend going through a very reliable surrogate agency. You have to be really careful and know what you’re doing.”
CBS: How do you manage your busy household and your career?
JL: “By being unbelievably organized. I think ahead, I’m a list-maker, and I have a family calendar in the kitchen that contains everyone’s lessons, doctor’s appointments, and birthday parties, so that everyone knows what we all have to attend to. I also do a lot of little things, like buy multiple birthday gifts at once. I never just go and buy one gift…I’ll buy a dozen [laughs]. I’ll have them wrapped and keep them in a closet. With four kids each in separate classes, you can imagine what the birthday party schedule is like for us.
Those are the things that you can get caught in; things that can make working moms go crazy. These moms are exhausted and overwhelmed, and all of a sudden it’s Saturday morning and you have two birthday parties and you don’t have gifts for them. I’m also known for my drawer of cards for birthday, anniversary, graduation, thank-you, Christmas, and Hanukah. You name it, and I’ve got a card for it in a file. Everyone always wants to go to my card file [laughs]. Those are the little things that matter.
On that rare afternoon where you actually have 45 minutes to kill, go and buy 30-40 cards to put in a drawer, and then you don’t have to think about it for the next six months! To me, it’s all about anticipating what you’re going to have to be doing, and getting ready for it before you hit crunch time so you don’t get caught in the last minute. I think that’s good advice for anyone, even if you just have a couple of kids…you don’t have to have seven like me [laughs]! You don’t have to have seven kids to be totally stressed out.”
CBS: What are your upcoming holiday plans? Is it crazy busy in your household over the holidays?
JL: “That’s actually another thing I’m known for [laughs]. I have a huge extended family, and I had forty people over for Thanksgiving. I really love entertaining and decorating. I have a pantry that is so incredibly organized, that I could literally throw a party tonight if you needed me to and I would decorate it for the occasion. The reason why is that, again, I go out on those times where I see a big sale, or where I have extra time on the weekend, and I’ll go buy things and put them in little organized boxes, so that I can really do up tables.
I love, love, love to entertain and do it often. People always walk in and look at the tables and say, ‘We’re calling the papers! Nobody knows this about you!’ [laughs] Again, I am undaunted by the task and can do it and enjoy it, because I’ve got this incredibly organized pantry with a little something to allow me to entertain for any holiday. Also, I think about it two weeks ahead of time. I get it out and get it ready so that if, God forbid, I don’t have what I need, then I’ll still have time to catch up and go and get it. Part of the reason why guests walk in and I am so relaxed and I’ve got these elaborate tables is because I have my system of anticipating the needs and getting started early and being organized.
This holiday season, I am definitely having a party at my house. I have my tables for adults and tables for kids. For Thanksgiving, I got a huge kick out of finding these little pilgrims that you could light up with a flick of a switch. It’s these little things that I love. These days, you could go on the Internet and find many decorative things at places such as at the Christmas tree shop at Pier 1 Imports. To me, it’s an enjoyable task.
I also love to cook! This season, we are going to do roast chicken, corn pudding, and what I call a broccoli puff, which is actually a yummy broccoli casserole. I had the advantage that I got to cook 2-3 times a week or more when I hosted Good Morning America. I got to cook with Julia Childs, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril, and Bobby Flay. I remember all those little things. I got to learn from some of the greats.
I’ll be making mashed potatoes and I’ll remember Julia Childs saying, ‘You know, your kids might not like cauliflower, but get that cauliflower, cook it up, and mix it into the mashed potatoes. They’ll never know it’s in there.’ I get great pleasure out of cooking and coming up with fun new recipes. For example, I just made a pumpkin soup recipe for Thanksgiving. It’s hard for a lot of women today, because when you work all the time, and there is such limited time, it becomes difficult. However, I’ve gotten all of the kids in the process.
My three older girls are living on their own, but I have the four younger children at home. Every night, one of them gets to help me in the kitchen. They love it and fight over it. They get to be the sous chef, and they participate in everything, from preparing vegetables to stirring the pot and getting the table ready. Then they have such pride in announcing what we’re having for dinner and explaining the recipe and what’s put on the table. I think it even encourages them to eat what we’re cooking. They’re a part of it and it makes the other kids want to eat the food, because one of them is talking about how great it is going to be.
Getting the kids involved in the process also helps them not be afraid of the kitchen. I also love taking them with me to the store in little groups and big groups, because if they take part in picking things out, and as long as you keep the cart on the perimeter of the store where all the fresh food is, that is when you can get them to help you pick out healthy foods. Then they are much more inclined to eat healthy choices. I also think that we have to make these healthy foods available. Sometimes someone will say that his or her child will not eat broccoli or cauliflower, and I’ll just say, ‘Try again!’ The child might say ‘No’ at first, but a year later, that child might be willing and that food might actually become a favorite. You have to keep going back, keep going back, and keep going back. You have to make it available. We have fresh fruit on our table at every single meal.”
CBS: How do you and your husband make time for each other and keep the romance alive amidst the craziness of daily life?
JL: “You have to make date nights, as they are essential when you have children. They give you a chance to finish a sentence [laughs]. We are also big on the family meal, and we have a really supportive atmosphere in the family. Whenever I am doing something, my husband is incredibly supportive. When the cookware line first came out, he said to the kids, ‘Let’s go to the store with mommy and go see it!’
We are also very active as a family, and I think a great way to keep romance alive in a relationship is to play tennis together, go hiking together, go skiing together, etc. A little competitiveness and activity brings up vitality in a relationship. That’s also important to me.
For women, if they want to get more exercise in their schedule and work out, then they should see if they can get their husbands involved in it. I think it puts a certain kind of vibrancy and vitality back into a relationship.”View Slideshow »»