“Cooking is time well spent, whatever age you are.”
Erin Gleeson is a bit of a renaissance woman.
Recipe-creator, illustrator, photography teacher—and now New York Times Bestselling author of ‘The Forest Feast,’ her blend of visually-appealing recipes mixed in a vegetarian palate has refreshed the kitchens of vegetable lovers everywhere. (Ours included!)
And now a mama to her 18-month-old son Ezra, Erin’s back with a just-published version of her crazy-popular original: The Forest Feast for Kids hit bookstores mid-February.
We chatted with Erin about her favorite foods, how she manages meals for her family and what’s really surprised her about motherhood.
‘I was surprised that it was so hard to get them to eat vegetables’
Oh, you think just because she’s a food writer and popular vegetarian cookbook author that getting her son to eat his greens is easy? Not so fast, explains Erin.
The son of a foodie, she imagined “oh he’s going to love vegetables! I used to think that probably kids who don’t love vegetables aren’t exposed to them at home.”
So imagine her surprise when her little one wasn’t buying what mama was cooking.
“He throws them on the floor and spits them out and screams. I get why it’s hard.”
Her strategy? “I have to keep reintroducing certain things—one week he’ll eat carrots and the next he’ll only take a small bite of it.”
So she’s employing a philosophy is constant reintroduction: ‘My mom always said to us ‘maybe today you’ll like it!’”
The woman with a (meal) plan?
So how does Erin rotate recipes into her weekly schedule?
“I am not a meal planner—I’m not organized in advance”—she confesses.
Instead, she explains, “I get the weekly farm box—I like the creativity of getting a box of things I have to come up with. That’s how I develop new recipes—by experimenting.”
How she does it
Erin often mixes her farm box CSA with staples she always stocks in her pantry—good grains and proteins like quinoa, farro and polenta.
Then she turns those roasted vegetables + grains + proteins into soups, bowls or wraps—“hearty enough to turn into a full meal.”
“A big sheet pan of roasted vegetables is my go-to. I’ll put it with whole wheat gnocchi and a little cheese on top for protein.”
Some fan faves
So where does Erin go to gather the best food she can find?
This is where she picks up “surprisingly good produce—A wide variety—even out of season”
The cheese selection gets Erin in the door at Trader Joe’s. The French cheese sold there, Delice de Bourgogne, Erin says, is worth the trip alone.
This is where Erin picks up “organic baby food type’ items”
“Ezra is crazy about oatmeal so I buy it organic from Whole Foods.”
On starting them early
Erin wrote her new kids cookbook after realizing many mothers were using her original book to cook with their children.
“Cooking is time well spent, whatever age you are. This is especially true if kids can be involved in the picking, buying and cooking process of the fruits and vegetables. They’ll be more apt to try things.”
As a girl, Erin explains, her family always cooked together in their home in Sonoma County.
So now, as a mom herself, she’s betting “the earlier you start them [on fresh food cooked together] the longer it lasts.”
She’s taking that advice herself, creating a new tradition with her son:
“We’ve been making challah bread together on Friday because we’re Jewish and he likes to stand on the chair next to me and sort of hold the measuring spoon and kind of dumping it.
“He loves it.”