Jennifer Garner on cooking for kids, her mother’s cooking and dieting

Jennifer Garner says that when she first started acting, she practiced her cooking skills by making her mom's recipes for her castmates.  (Photo: Getty; designed by Zana Kaba)

Jennifer Garner says that when she first started acting, she practiced her cooking skills by making her mom’s recipes for her castmates. (Photo: Getty; designed by Zana Kaba)

Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life serves up a plate full of table conversations with people who are passionate about what’s on their menu Deglazeda series about food.

Jennifer Garner is no stranger to the big screen, but the 50-year-old actress has also become somewhat of a kitchen star, sharing “pretend cooking show” posts to her nearly 14 million Instagram followers.

Garner says she filmed the videos, in which she makes everything from Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake to Mini Beef and Cheese Empanadas, at any time of the day (and all levels of camera readiness). Most recipes the Juno and Alias actress shares is inspired by her mother, who she says taught her to make most things from scratch.

“My mom made everything growing up. Everything,” she tells Yahoo Life. “On Sundays the house smelled of fresh bread … my mother would meet me to take me from ballet to rehearsal in another place and there would be a hot meal in the car. I still remember – brisket and mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetables – so tasty, and I would actually just lick the plate to move on to the next location.

When she first started acting on stage, she practiced her own versions of her mother’s recipes and cooked meals for her fellow cast members. “I showed up with the strangest things because I was trying to learn how to make my mom’s dinner,” she recalls. “I wanted to make wholemeal bread. I wanted to make roast chicken and gravy and rice or potatoes — just good mom food, which is still, I’d say, my specialty, and pretty much all I can do.”

Today, the mother-of-three says she finds feeding her kids “incredibly rewarding,” if a little frustrating at times.

“Watching a kid who loved scrambled eggs — couldn’t get enough scrambled eggs — who now can’t eat scrambled eggs to save her life,” she says, “a kid who’s so picky about everything else but is totally happy to go anywhere in the world and try everything. I’m just so surprised.”

Garner says she was a picky eater growing up, but now focuses on filling up on foods that will fuel her throughout the day. “My eating is very predictable,” she says as she shares her favorite way to make a salad. “I have a big salad – not just any normal salad, but a mongo jongo salad, and I put everything in it to fill me up – nuts, avocado, cheese, egg whites. We always have plenty of roasted veggies in the fridge to top up. so I add that too. It really fills me up until dinner and it’s so good.”

“There’s plenty of fattening stuff in there,” she adds, “but it’s all so whole and good that it helps me not go bananas or go where I want to go, which is blue corn chips.”

Still, the Hollywood icon says she’s not fond of diet culture or seeing food as the enemy. “Nothing makes me hungrier than being told to watch what I eat,” she says. “I just can’t. I’m allergic to it. It makes me feel deprived and it drives me crazy. I’ll hide in the corner and eat a box of Triscuits.”

Garner spoke to Yahoo Life as part of her work promoting KitchenAid: The brand recently gifted her the holiday 2022 kitchen mixer, which she used to create what she calls a cooking show for her Mini Pumpkin Loaves recipe. But Garner says her fascination with KitchenAid stand mixers dates back to her childhood.

“We had a KitchenAid hand mixer, but what I coveted was the stand mixer,” she recalls. “My best friend’s mom had one that was brilliant green on her counter and I loved it so much. I dreamed of what that would be like, to have what even Julia Child had on her counter.”

“The stand mixer was the first thing I ever bought myself as an adult,” she continues. “I’ve had it for a few decades and it’s such a staple in my kitchen that when I go on vacation I take the mixer with me when I bring my kids.”

As part of her work for the appliance brand, Garner handed out the festive mixers to four Los Angeles home cooks whose stories warmed her heart. Garner’s list included a special education teacher who bakes and sells cupcakes to raise money for children’s hospitals and a sister duo who have bonded over trying to recreate their mother’s cultural cuisine. “It was so incredible to be welcomed into their home and learn about why they cook and bake and what it means to them,” she says. “It was a really nice day.”

But on a different kind of day… a Yeah bye … what would Garner’s ultimate food menu be? “I would have huevos rancheros in the morning and maybe even pancakes and sausage for breakfast,” she says. “There’s supposed to be pizza in it – there’s never no pizza – when I see pizza I eat it. And pasta. All the good.”

The 13 on the way to 30 star also shares the nostalgic food from her own childhood that she still craves: Little Debbie snack cakes. “Because my mom made everything, she would never buy us anything processed,” she explains. “I dreamed of Little Debbie snack cakes: the Oatmeal Creme Pies, the Swiss Rolls – I had a friend who I would trade my wonderful homemade chocolate chip cookies with for her Little Debbie snack cakes and they felt like I was eating a treasure .”

When it comes to Butter, Garner is nothing but a rule follower. “L nothing but cook with unsalted,” she says. “I’m very easily confused. I don’t mess with what I know how to do and if a recipe says unsalted and I put salted I’m totally confused.

Wellness, parenting, body image and more: meet the Who behind the how with the Yahoo Life newsletter. Register here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *