By Ginna Parsons
TUPELO – Lauren Vann says she believes God gave her a husband and three sons on purpose.
“I love to cook, and now I cook for and feed four boys,” said Vann, 29. “I’ve always tried to cook healthy and now I’m trying to balance healthy with kid-friendly and budget-friendly.”
Vann and her husband, Joel, are both agents for Tommy Morgan Realtors. They have 3-year-old twin sons, Paxton and Isaac, and a 1-year-old, Luke. The couple moved to Tupelo in early 2010.
“I like to prepare healthy, whole foods, but I’m not going to be the mom who deprives my kids of all sugar,” she said. “But for the most part, they eat real food.”
Vann is from Washington and grew up in the Seattle area. She and Joel, who is a Corinth native, met at church when he was in college in Washington.
“In college I had a tiny studio apartment with a microwave and a mini-fridge, so I didn’t do much cooking,” she said. “We married three weeks after I graduated from college, so I went from not cooking at all to being a wife all of a sudden.”
Vann said Seattle is known for its health-consciousness, so she grew up eating natural, unprocessed food.
“When we first married, I cooked a lot from ‘The Maker’s Diet’ by Jordan Rubin,” she said. “Our bodies function better when we eat food we’re meant to eat. We don’t call what we do ‘paleo’ or anything like that, but we do try to eat more whole, plant-based foods.”
Vann said her cooking had evolved since she began her family.
“With the kids, we hide a lot of vegetables in their foods,” she said. “There’s a serving of zucchini in our turkey burgers and I serve mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and they clean their plates every time.”
Vann said she Googles paleo recipes to get ideas for meals and she also uses Pinterest.
“I usually always start with a base recipe, but then I go off on my own,” she said. “I’m always tweaking and I’m not going to go out and buy something if I have a substitute for it in my cabinet.”
She said she doesn’t buy everything organic in the grocery store, but she tries to balance it as best as she can.
“I buy free-range chicken eggs and grass-fed beef,” she said. “In the summer, I love the Tupelo Farmers’ Market and buying foods that have been locally grown. I feel like Tupelo is really moving that way – localvores, is what my dad calls it.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.