Tia Mowry's Best Cooking Parenting Hacks Involve Elmo and Stencils

Tia Mowry talks about watching nostalgic movies with her kids, tips for making mealtime fun, and the upcoming school season.

An image of Tia Mowry.
Photo: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

Everyone deserves a little ice cream in this weather. And as one of this mom's favorite foods, Tia Mowry is working to make sure that's possible for those who are lactose intolerant. Mowry, mother of Cairo, 3, and Cree, 10, discovered she had a lactose sensitivity in her late teens, and her kids are sensitive too. So desserts like her Ice Cream Cookie Skillet include Lactaid ice cream or Lactaid 100 percent real milk (just without lactose) with their favorite cookies—and the kids can't tell the difference.

The best-selling cookbook author and actress talks more about fun and easy at-home recipes, her favorite summer family activities, Netflix's Family Reunion, and her cookbook The Quick Fix Kitchen, out September 28.

What have been some of your favorite ways to spend time with your family this summer?

We were able to watch Sister, Sister as a family together, which was so incredible. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be watching that with my children. And then watching movies like NeverEnding Story and Richie Rich. Watching nostalgic movies with my children and reliving moments from childhood just does something to you.

Also, I love to cook. Cree is older now and really into food tasting and food pairing. Definitely a great sous chef. Even Cairo has been helping out. She uses a little step ladder in the kitchen.

We also turned our backyard into a cool play space for the kids. We have an easel and water table out there. Cairo has a dollhouse where she puts dinosaurs and toy bugs. And those bug toys are not small. There's a beetle the size of my hand that she puts in the dollhouse. Sometimes you see it early in the morning and get scared until you're like "Oh yeah. That's Cairo's toy."

Can you share any family cooking tips?

One of Cairo and Cree's favorite characters is Elmo so they love when I make my Elmo Overnight Oats. If I make Elmo's face with strawberries, blueberries, apples, and tangerines, then they want to eat it. When it comes to making lunches, I love those stencils that you use to create airplane, dinosaur, and butterfly sandwiches. You can even make pancakes with them. It's exciting and appealing.

What was the process like creating your upcoming cookbook The Quick Fix Kitchen?

I feel like every project I do is my baby. Creating a cookbook is one of my favorite things to do, mainly because there's a lot of recipe testing and eating involved. But then there's also all of this storytelling. It's so phenomenal to remember my time in Sardinia, Italy, and reexploring what inspired me to make certain dishes. In this particular book, I'm teaching people how to organize their pantry and kitchen because a lot of people are overwhelmed. They don't know what's essential to have or how to know what's in season.

What are you looking forward to in part 4 of Family Reunion?

I was allowed to preview, so I binge-watched all the episodes and I was laughing hard. I'm most excited about people watching the show and walking away feeling good. I think the reason why people enjoy it is because it's a multi-generational show. It's great for grandparents, parents, teenagers, preteens, and kids. And I think right now we need some sort of programming that you can watch with your entire family and have a great time.

Are Cairo and Cree excited about school?

They're so excited. I bought their clothes and shoes. But I'm nervous about this new variant. I saw this one TikTok and I laughed so hard because this woman was like, "Y'all need to tell me now because I'm not about to buy all new school supplies and clothes if you're going to have the kids stay home." But the kids are very excited, especially Cree. He's excited to be around his friends and teachers, and I'm excited for them as a parent. So I'm just hoping that everything goes as planned, and they'll be able to go to school.

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