Kristen Bell isn't afraid of a challenge. The actress and activist has not only proven to be versatile on screen, from teen detective to singing Disney princess, she's also willing to stretch herself in the kitchen. Keeping things local, easy, and delicious, as well as accommodating various dietary restrictions doesn't faze her.
A vegetarian since the age of 11, she is also passionate about working for more Americans to have access to the same fresh fruits and veggies as her own family. That's lead to her current partnership with Naked Juice and its #DrinkGoodDoGood campaign, donating fresh produce to communities in need. We caught up with Bell at the campaign's launch to talk about how she discusses her work to end food insecurity with her daughters, what dinnertime is like, and the one thing she always has in her fridge.
The #DrinkGoodDoGood campaign donates ten pounds of fresh produce for every selfie tagged with the campaign's hashtag, a challenge Bell has taken to heart. (She promises to post "billions.") The produce goes towards Wholesome Wave's program to help Americans double the value of their SNAP benefits when used towards fresh fruits and vegetables. "Its incentivizing, its empowering, and its necessary," Bell says.
While her daughters (ages 2 and 4) are a little young to grasp the nuances of her work, she does say that discussing how fortunate their family is to have access to things like wholesome food is part of their daily life.
"When someone in the house is feeling bratty we remind them, 'My heart is grateful today because we have soft beds and a roof over our head and enough to eat and there are people that don’t get those luxuries,'" she says. The language they use is also carefully chosen to let them know that the things they are grateful for are results of hard work and opportunities.
"That's why I support partnerships like [Naked Juice's]," she explains, "because its creating opportunities for people that they don't have access to normally."
While a sit-down dinner in Bell's family might be difficult, especially with a two-year-old, Bell cooks family dinner five nights a week. That includes making meals that are free of gluten, nightshades, and eggs for her husband, actor Dax Shepard. "I get excited by a challenge," she explains. Her vegetarianism has also taught her how to appreciate vegetables eaten whole, like a raw bell pepper or sautéed broccoli with garlic served as a main course. "It doesn't need to be 95 ingredients" to be delicious, she says.
On the two nights a week Bell does not cook, her family orders takeout, but even there, she gets crafty. She especially loves draining and repurposing sauces from leftovers into new dishes, as well as saving vegetable sides and making something new out of them.
Another favorite kitchen hack is putting sherry onions or shallots on everything. A trick she learned from her sister, an "incredible cook," Bell still forces her sister to make it when she visits. After caramelizing shallots or onions in butter or ghee, she adds a bit of sherry for sweetness. The family then saves it in the fridge and "slathers" it on everything from burgers (Shepard and her daughters eat meat) to toast. She says it's one item you can invariably always find in her fridge no matter what.
Parenting In The Public Eye
Bell and Shepard not only make an effort to instill a sense of gratitude in their daughters, but also "fight any entitlement" they might have. That includes having the two girls share a room in addition to reminding them daily that they're lucky to have treats like ice cream as well as a full fridge of food. It's also a "non-negotiable" in the family to eat two bites of vegetables before getting up from the table at dinner time.
While, thus far, Bell says the girls are too young to grasp that both their parents are public figures, they do remain "wildly territorial" when it comes to exposing their children to strangers. That includes a "no pictures" policy when it comes to fans approaching them in public. "I don’t think my children deserve a childhood where their mom is taking pictures with strangers all day when we’re out in public," Bell says.
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