Jennifer Garner loves to share videos of herself cooking via Instagram and Facebook in an adorable and informative series she has dubbed “Jennifer Garner’s Pretend Cooking Show.” While Garner is not vegan, she has shared several meat-free recipes. And even though she cooks the dishes herself, the Emmy-nominated actress often looks to famous culinary pros, like Ina Garten and Martha Stewart, for inspiration.
Garner has a rather large garden in the backyard of her California home, where she grows a bounty of produce, including blueberries, blood oranges, and kale. The Alias alum uses the lush green oasis as a way to teach her three children with ex-husband Ben Affleck—daughters Violet and Seraphina, and son Samuel—about gardening as well as healthy eating.
“My mom grew up on a little farm in Oklahoma with cows, chickens, fresh veggies—you name it. Everything they ate, other than sugar and flour, they grew and raised. When I was a little girl, my mother always told me and my siblings fantastic, vivid tales of growing up on the farm during the summertime, when they would eat like kings, with fresh produce by the bunches and routine delicacies like homemade ice cream,” Garner told Well+Good in May 2018.
According to Garner, that upbringing influenced the way that she runs her household. They have bee hives and a garden in their yard, where she says that they “can’t stop planting new things.”
Jennifer Garner Co-Founded Once Upon a Farm
Garner’s penchant for gardening and eating healthy foods extends beyond her own family. In 2017, she co-founded the organic children’s food line Once Upon a Farm with Cassandra Curtis, Ari Raz and John Foraker, former president of organic food brand Annie’s.
Once Upon a Farm specializes in cold-pressed organic foods for babies, toddlers, and kids. While not everything is vegan, there is a dedicated range of dairy-free options, and all Once Upon a Farm products are made with a blend of organic fruits and vegetables.
Additionally, the sweet potatoes used in the Farmer Jen’s Sweet Potato Pie smoothie are grown on Garner’s family farm in Oklahoma, and some of the proceeds from each Farmer Jen’s Sweet Potato Pie smoothie sold are donated to Save the Children—a non-profit organization helping kids get a healthier start.
Garner’s dedication to the company is clear. “As a mom of three and Save the Children artist ambassador, I am passionate about childhood nutrition and making sure we are leaving a healthier and happier planet for the next generation,” she explained in 2017.
How to Cook Vegan Like Jennifer Garner
When it comes to sharing vegan recipes, Garner’s plant-based picks really run the gamut. She often chooses meals or snacks that are a hit in her own home, such as oatmeal made with fresh apple slices and spices, or kale chips. Inspired by her work with Once Upon a Farm, Garner also loves to share some of her favorite hearty smoothie recipes. Here are some of Jennifer Garner’s favorite vegan recipes.
Spicy Garlic Cashew Spread
In March 2019, Garner threw together this “healthy-ish” dairy-free spread that she says tastes good on everything. She used a recipe from the New York Times, which calls for roasted, salted cashews, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño peppers, and more.
“This dip, by Melissa Clark (@clarkbar) of @nytcooking, is a little something I’ve used to make a ‘blah’ meal ‘ooh la la’ for years,” the actress explained on Instagram. “The more you make it the more you’ll discover your tastes. For example, I tasted like garlic for six days after this batch—😬—I ate it all anyway. #dragonbreath🐉🔥.”
After calling blue corn chips her “nemesis,” Garner shared her kale chip recipe in January 2018, seemingly using kale from her own garden.
“If you’re in LA, [kale] grows all winter,” she wrote in the Instagram caption. “Dinosaur is best, but all kale works.”
After removing the rib of the kale and coating it with olive oil and salt, Garner popped the veggies in the oven for about 25 minutes. According to the Texas native, the only downside to this healthy snack is occasionally getting kale in your teeth!
Move over, kale! After her success with leafy greens, Garner followed it up with beet chips in March 2018.
“Another hack for when you (me) are craving the crunch of blue corn tortilla chips…BEET CHIPS!” she wrote on Instagram at the time. “[They’re] naturally sweet and completely addicting.”
To make her colorful and tasty beet chips, Garner thinly slices her beets, coats them in olive oil, sprinkles a bit of salt on top, and puts them in the oven.
Butternut Squash Purée
Garner crafted her first recipe for her Once Upon a Farm brand in 2019, and shared the results in a January 2020 Instagram post, which also delved into a bit of the star’s family history. “My mom grew up really poor on a beautiful farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, where my uncle Robert and aunt Janet now live,” she explained. “A year ago I said to them: ‘Hey guys, you wanna plant some Koginut squash for Once Upon A Farm?’ And they did! We harvested it and it was beautiful.”
As Garner explained, she was able to create her “first-ever recipe” using that hearty squash grown on her family’s farm. And, she developed a smoothie for Once Upon a Farm called Farmer Jen & the Giant Squash, which contains squash, apple, cinnamon, dates, coconut milk, and oats.
While Garner is a fan of all of the Once Upon a Farm smoothies, it’s clear that this one holds a special place in her heart. “100% of the 12,000lb of squash used in #FarmerJenandtheGiantSquash was planted, tended to, and harvested by Robert, Janet, and (on several occasions) ME!” she explained in the Instagram caption.
Why buy bagels when you can make them yourself? That was Garner’s perspective in May 2019 when she opted to prepare some for her family one morning after making a starter the night before.
While Garner had previously attempted to make bagels that ended up being a “disaster,” this batch, made with unbleached bread flour, yeast, salt, and more, was practically perfect.
Garner shared the recipe for her “favorite winter oatmeal” in March 2019, and called this easy-to-prepare breakfast a one-cup wonder, since all of the ingredients fit inside a single cup.
The comforting recipe calls for oats, water, diced apples, brown sugar, and salt. All of the ingredients then boil on the stove for five minutes before Garner adds vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and chopped almonds as a garnish.
“You can’t do better,” she declared after taking a taste.
Vegan ‘Magic Shell’ Topping
Is there anyone who doesn’t like a “magic shell” ice cream topping? Garner whipped up a homemade version of the sweet treat in August 2019 using chocolate and coconut oil. Though she mentioned a preference for milk chocolate in the Instagram caption, this tasty topping also works great with vegan chocolate.
“This recipe has defined my family’s summer—it reminds me of the @dairyqueen dipped cones, but better (😬sacrilege🙈)—and I’ve made it several times a week since it showed up in @nytcooking,” she wrote. “Two ingredients, five minutes, and you are the coolest chick on the block.”
After Garner tasted her homemade ice cream topping in the accompanying video, she called it “the most important thing the New York Times has ever done.”
‘Be Well’ Smoothie
In January 2018, Garner shared her go-to breakfast smoothie recipe that she’d learned months earlier on a move set. The healthy drink is made with collagen powder, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, almond butter, unsweetened almond milk, spinach, blueberries, and ice.
“It’s tastier than it looks!” Garner wrote of her smoothie on Instagram. “I started working with @bewellbykelly a few months ago to get ready for #PEPPERMINTmovie and have had her smoothie every day for breakfast since.”
In a July 2019 episode of her Pretend Cooking Show, Garner decided to make raspberry preserves using a recipe from Zoe Nathan’s cookbook, Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes From Our Kitchen.
The fruity condiment is made with raspberries, water, salt, and sugar, and the final product tasted so good that Garner said it was “worth making homemade English muffins for.”
In August 2020, Garner whipped up a little “treat during COVID-times” for herself using just two ingredients—sparkling water and blueberry juice. “I don’t know why, I just needed you to know about it,” she told her Instagram followers, acknowledging the simple nature of her drink recipe. “It’s very refreshing!”
“#itsthelittlethings,” she added in the Instagram caption.