Keke Palmer amid some of her favorite foods, like pizza and mashed potatoes.
Courtesy of Hello Fresh

Keke Palmer’s 11-Month-Old Son Leo Is Kinda Over Baby Food

“He wants the flavor, honey.”

Originally Published: 
Family Dinner

The past year has been a particularly eventful one for Keke Palmer, actress, singer, and self-proclaimed “Millennial diva” (we agree). Palmer welcomed her first child, Leodis “Leo” Andrellton Jackson, in February 2023 (“Born during Black History Month, with a name to match,” she quipped at the time) and hasn’t stopped moving since. Movie and television roles, her first studio album since 2007 (Big Boss), various hosting gigs and partnerships and, of course, never forget, she is , of course a motha.

And while most of us don’t launch a truly inspired new line of (maternal) merch in our baby’s first year, Palmer is also going through the same exciting milestones as any new parent, including moving her breastfed baby boy to solids.

“I’ll be honest, though,” says Palmer. “Once he started being able to taste some food off of my plate, it became a problem for that baby food. So I’m in a scenario where I’m having to put a lot of my food in the food processor and just give it to him that way because he wants the flavor, honey!”

Palmer, who has partnered with HelloFresh, recently sat down with Romper to talk about all things food and feeding via Zoom, including her culinary ambitions down the road and throwing the most Virgo dinner party ever.

When you think about when you grew up and the food culture in your family, were you a sit down at the dinner table kind of family where you just, everybody grabs what they can? What did that look like for you?

So my dad went through phases. He grew up like The Andy Griffith Show, The Brady Bunch, so there would be periods of our life where my dad was like, “Y’all need to sit at the table. We need to eat as a family.” But then as time went on, he became a little bit looser and he knows we want to watch our TV while we eat our food. So we’d be able to go to our rooms and and it would be more of a make your plate and go to your room and you can enjoy TV. But every now and then we would do the sitting at the table, and then it would be kind of like a mix-up.

Are there any particular foods you associate with your childhood?

Mashed potatoes, pork chops, spaghetti, fish. In the Midwest, you’re going to get a mixture of soul food and Midwestern type dishes. You know what I mean? So it’s like spaghetti and catfish. Random because why is spaghetti a side dish? You’ll get mashed potatoes or a baked potato and a pork chop, or you’ll get sweet potatoes and mac and cheese and a salisbury steak. So it’s like a little mixture of all that kind of stuff.

Do you like to cook? I mean, in the three minutes a day that you have time?

I’ll be honest, I like to cook, but I don’t cook often. I would love to do more of it. And I really would also love to go to cooking school. I really do feel like that is just calling my name. And I’ve wanted to go for a really long time: I’ve wanted to go to culinary school. So I see that in my future at some point because I do want to be that person that can do that.

That’s what I love about HelloFresh: it gives me the opportunity to live that out. You know what I mean? Even though the instructions are all there and they’re telling me what to do, it’s still fun to get opportunity to just live that out and not have to do all the extra heavy lifting.

Can you talk about your partnership with HelloFresh? How did that come about?

It came about organically. I’ve used HelloFresh, and so when the partnership came along I was excited. And I was excited because this time when you sign up for HelloFresh, you get free breakfast for life, which is amazing! I don’t know anybody that doesn’t like free breakfast!

Courtesy of Hello Fresh

And then obviously with my schedule, it’s just difficult to keep up with... You want to be the person that’s at home and making your meals for the whole week, but I just don’t have that kind of time. And with HelloFresh, it just comes to you on your doorstep. You don’t have to think about it.

Keke, looking at your schedule just on Instagram, I don’t know how you have time to sleep, much less cook. Especially with a little one.

Exactly. It’s all over the place. I think I’m used to it for the most part, but it is definitely insane.

Do you have a dish that you particularly enjoy making when you have the opportunity?

I think I’ve attempted a couple of times to do the mac and cheese. This Thanksgiving, I didn’t do it, but in the past I’ve done a little mac and cheese and a little sweet potatoes, and I think it’s done pretty well.

That’s a tough one: it’s a big deal dish for a holiday!

I was swinging high.

We expect nothing less. So what does a typical weeknight dinner look like for you right now?

If I’m feeling up to it, then maybe I’ll go out with a friend to try and give myself a little bit of a break and have some fun like that. Maybe I’ll have some HelloFresh delivered and I’ll make one of those meals and just keep it simple like that. And then every now and then, if I’m feeling like I’ve gone heavy throughout the week, I’ll kind of maybe try to do a little cleanse, or maybe do more of a liquid kind of thing: juicing in a day and maybe a protein shake or something at night. So there’s a variety of things. It depends on where I am and how I’m feeling.

Are there any foods you're really looking forward to introducing to Leo?

Some stuff I won’t be able to see his reaction until he’s much older. What’s he going to do when he first eats sushi or some of the more interesting kind of things? Outside of that, it’d be really cool to see him eat his first burger. I already had him lick a lemon. It was really cute to see his expression when he had a lemon for the first time. But it’s so funny because it was sour to him, but he actually really enjoyed it. He kept coming back to it. So he seems to like a little sour, tart taste. I put a little frosting on my finger and had him lick it, and he was kind of jolted. I was like, “Oh, wow. The sugar got to him already.” I will be excited to see him smash his cake up on his first birthday.

What is a snack or condiment that you always have in your house?

I’ve always got cereal because my niece and nephews live with me. So I’ve always got cereal and I’ve always got ketchup because I am a ketchup fiend. And I’ve learned and realized that people really hate on the ketchup these days. But I’m a ketchup person.

What is an ideal dinner for you? It doesn’t have to be your favorite meal, but when you think of a really lovely dinner you’ve had, what are you eating? Who are you with? What’s the vibe?

I don’t know if there’s a person in particular that I’m with, but I’m in good company. I’ll put it like that. I’m in good company, the conversation is good. I feel safe and relaxed, and I’m able to really explore the dinner, really take my time from appetizer to main course to dessert. Nothing is too heavy about the meal. Sometimes you might get an appetizer and then you’re too full for your main dish, or you’ll eat your appetizer, your main dish, and you don’t want dessert. So I feel like everything being exactly what it’s supposed to be.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I imagine something with rich flavors, but not too heavy. Something maybe lemony and a little bit of cream. Maybe there’s rice or there’s some salmon. I always feel like the appetizer is the most cheating part. Maybe it’s like some grilled squid or it’s maybe some calamari or even a little dip or something like that. And the dessert is something that’s very shareable, something that’s sweet but not so sweet that it’s too much. Something like a creme brûlée.

You’re painting such a picture! Not to get woo-woo on you, but I know you’re a Virgo and that’s the most Virgo answer, I’ve ever heard to this question.

I actually agree with you in totality because when you said I was painting the picture for you, I was like, “...and it doesn't get any more Virgo than that.”

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